JWCI, Volume LXXXII (2019)

edited by Rembrandt Duits, Jill Kraye, Guido Rebecchini and Paul Taylor 

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We apologise for our lateness with this issue. The online edition is now live. The print edition is due for publication at the end of August 2020.


The Two Tombs of Philip the Bold
by Susie Nash (Courtauld Institute of Art)

This article rewrites the history of the tomb of Philip the Bold made for the Chartreuse de Champmol in Dijon, through a close reading and re-transcription of the entire archival record, including some previously unknown documents, paying careful attention to what their terminology and chronology reveal about time, cost, materials and process; it analyses the scale of the project, and in particular the acquisition and working of materials: limestone from Tonnerre, ‘alabaster’ as spolia from Autun, black marble from Dinant, white marble, presumably from Italy, via Paris, alabaster from Grenoble and a pinkish limestone from Resne, near Dijon. By reconsidering this record, along with the physical and visual evidence of the existing monument, it argues that there was not one but two tombs made for Philip the Bold: the first was completed by Jean de Marville and then rejected by Philip, and perhaps also by the Carthusians; the second, that we have today, was started again from scratch in the early 1390s by Claus Sluter, in collaboration, possibly, with Jacques de Baerze. The story of how these two tombs were planned, worked on, adapted or restarted, along with what Marville’s abandoned project may have looked like, and what may have become of its constituent parts, is woven into the narrative of Philip’s political and religious ambitions, the role of  his wife Margaret of Flanders, and of the construction and decoration of the Chartreuse de Champmol itself.

The Return of the Giants: Reflections on Technical Mastery and Moral Jeopardy in Alberti’s Letter to Brunelleschi
by Caspar Pearson (University of Essex)

In 1436, Leon Battista Alberti wrote a letter to Filippo Brunelleschi, which he attached to a manuscript of his recently completed treatise on painting, De pictura. In it, Alberti lauded some of the Florentine artists of his day, singling out Brunelleschi for particular praise on account of the unprecedented engineering feat of constructing the cupola of the Florentine cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. This article undertakes a close reading of some parts of the letter, focusing especially on the link that Alberti draws between great intellects (ingegni) and giants. Exploring the cultural traditions that might have informed Alberti’s thinking—in particular, canto XXXI of Dante’s Inferno—the article considers how the giants introduce an element of moral jeopardy, significantly complicating what might otherwise appear to be a purely celebratory text. This sense of ambivalence is further explored in relation to the ‘long exile’ from which Alberti says that his family (banished from Florence for nearly three decades, until 1428) had recently returned. Similar phrases appear in Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and consideration of  these poems, it is argued, might further inflect our understanding of Alberti’s words in the letter. In this way, the article investigates how Alberti employed sophisticated literary means in order to express his own feelings regarding Brunelleschian ingegno and technical mastery; feelings that were both highly nuanced and, ultimately, unsettled.

The Liber pontificalis in the Renaissance
by Stefan Bauer (Royal Holloway, University of London)

This article deals with aspects of the reception of the Liber pontificalis in the fifteenth century. The Liber pontificalis, an anonymous series of  biographies of popes from St Peter onwards, was one of the principal sources for the Lives of the Popes (Liber de vita Christi ac omnium pontificum, 1475) by the humanist Platina. I address Platina’s use of sources and some of his (limited) attempts at historical criticism. I also review his attitude towards the Latin he found in the Liber pontificalis and give a few examples of how he transformed the language and style of the original text.

Conrad Peutinger’s Treatise on Greek Art
by William A. Theiss (Princeton University)

In 1903 the German art historian Karl Giehlow argued that a 1514 treatise on Greek numismatics, written by the Augsburg humanist Conrad Peutinger and addressed to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, shed new light on Albrecht Dürer’s mysterious engraving Melencolia I. Since the treatise has never been published, the question has never been investigated. This article presents a transcription, commentary and translation of the treatise for the first time in any language. It also situates Peutinger’s work within the history of scholarship on Greek antiquity and the history of German Renaissance art. The central concern of  Peutinger’s treatise turns out to be a precocious and unexpected one: neither the exploits of the ancient hero whom the coin in question depicts, nor the possible lineage of the Habsburg emperor back to Hercules, but the material history of religion on an island in the Hellenistic Aegean. The article describes the leaps and misunderstandings that led Peutinger to endow his object, an everyday piece of ancient currency, with artistic significance and a sacred aura. Pace Giehlow, it is not the Melencolia I that is illuminated by the text, but artworks produced locally: the Prayer Book of Maximilian and the classical and sacred craftsmanship of an Augsburg goldsmith. The interpretation of Greek artworks did not just influence the art of a Christian city: Christian art, on the evening of the Reformation, coloured the interpretation of Greece.

Drawing on the Past: Palladio, his Precursors and Knowledge of Ancient Architecture c. 1550
by David Hemsoll (University of Birmingham Barber Institute of Fine Arts)

The argument set out here provides a new understanding of the methods followed by the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508–80) for depicting the monuments of classical antiquity—in both his drawings and the plates of his seminal architectural treatises, the Quattro libri dell’architettura. It accepts the now-established view that Palladio’s early studies were frequently copied from the drawings of previous practitioners, but it reasons that his later output was also heavily dependent on past achievements. This is contrary to the claims Palladio made in the Quattro libri, which contend that his drawings were based on surveys he had carried out himself, and to the confirmatory presumptions of modern-day scholars. The article first examines the ancient temples Palladio illustrated in the treatise, and observes that they have numerous features that are unsupported by the archaeological record but are also seen either in Palladio’s earlier copy drawings or in the graphic works of his predecessors or contemporaries. Secondly, it considers Palladio’s drawings of bath complexes, which remained unpublished only because of his death, noting that some of them are still reckoned to be invaluable and reliable records of then-accessible remains that Palladio was able to inspect but no longer exist. The conclusion here, however, is that his reconstructions were again based on earlier surveys that he judged dependable, but which he often then adapted and adjusted in line with his personal preferences. The article then continues with a discussion of  his probable debts to older architects such as Michele Sanmicheli and Antonio da Sangallo the  Younger, and his relationship with his contemporary Pirro Ligorio, whose drawings are often markedly similar to Palladio’s. It concludes by considering whether Palladio’s coverage of ancient architecture reveals the extent of such knowledge at the midpoint of the sixteenth century.

Vasari in Renaissance Straßburg
by Elizabeth Petcu (University of Edinburgh)

This article addresses the reception of the Vite in late-Renaissance Straßburg, examining how authors and artists in the circle of poet and satirist Johann Fischart (1546/47–c. 1590) and publisher-cum-woodcut carver Bernhard Jobin (before 1545–1593) responded to the book’s theories of art history and its evaluations of northern art and architecture. Though historians have long scrutinised the responses to  Vasari embedded in the preface to the Accuratae effigies (1573), a text published by Jobin and attributed to Fischart, the reception of the Vite in sixteenth-century Straßburg proves more extensive and more nuanced than existing research on the preamble might indicate. In fact, a community of  Straßburg residents associated with Jobin and Fischart, including Tobias Stimmer, Daniel Specklin, Conrad Dasypodius and Nikolaus von Reusner, produced a corpus of  works that engaged with Vasari on questions of style, invention and canon. Reacting to the Vite through a chronicle of  Rhineland building, technical treatises, architectural prints, and illustrated compendia of  biographies and portraits, the Straßburg circle of Fischart and Jobin used heterogenous textual and visual genres to promote alternatives to the Vite’s narrative form and to revise its art historical account in projects that shaped early writing on art across the German-speaking realm. In light of their work, I contend, the reception of the Vite in sixteenth-century northern Europe now also appears more sympathetic to Vasari than has previously been argued. For Straßburg authors did not only contest Vasarian ideas—they also integrated Vasarian thinking within the emergent traditions of art history and art criticism in the German-speaking lands in ways that could alter our understanding of how concepts of style, invention, and canon operated in early modern German art theory.

Claude-Etienne Savary: Orientalism and Fraudulence in Late Eighteenth-Century France
by Alastair Hamilton (Warburg Institute)

Claude-Etienne Savary (1750–88) is known mainly as the translator of  the Qur’an into French (1783) and the author of the Lettres sur l’Egypte (1785–86). Both his letters and his translation were immensely successful. He had spent two years in Egypt, from 1777 to 1779, and prided himself on his familiarity with the country and with the language. His version of the Qur’an, he claimed, was made directly from the Arabic. Even at the time, however, French residents in Egypt questioned his knowledge of  the country—his letters described the whole of  Egypt, from Alexandria and the Nile Delta to the First Cataract, but he himself went no further south than the pyramids of Giza. Other scholars doubted his knowledge of Arabic. His translation, they suggested, was not done, as he at one point claimed, in Egypt, but on his return to France, and it was not based on the Arabic but on the Latin translation by Ludovico Marracci (1698). This article examines the available evidence as well as Savary’s other works, his letters from Greece, his version of one of the Arabian Nights, and his Arabic grammar, in order to establish the extent to which his translations and his letters can be regarded as original contributions or simply as the work of an able plagiarist who owed his success to the elegance of his style.

Aenigma omnibus? The Transatlantic Late Humanism of Zinzendorf and the Early Moravians
by Thomas J. Keeline (Washington University in St Louis) and Stuart M. McManus (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

This article uncovers a hitherto underappreciated aspect of transatlantic cultural history: Moravian late humanism, and its relationship to contemporary intellectual currents in the Americas and the broader Republic of Letters in the age of Benjamin Franklin. To date, the Moravians have attracted the attention of  scholars for their novel theological views on gender and sexuality, their unique approach to reconciling piety with profit, their missionary efforts among native populations, their musical culture and their rejection of  slavery. Their interactions with the world of transatlantic and global late humanism, however, have not been studied in any systematic way. The present analysis opens and closes with a remarkable but almost unknown Latin oration, delivered in Philadelphia in 1742 by Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, to an audience provided with printed copies commissioned from the Franklin Press. A critical edition and an English translation of this work are provided in an appendix. In our article we examine the original European genesis and subsequent transatlantic context of Zinzendorf’s oration, tracing its development from a formal theological apologia into a quasi-legal statement of the count’s commitment to Moravian values, expressed in an erudite allusory language which left its listeners bemused. As our investigation shows, however, the confusion of the Philadelphia worthies who gathered to hear Zinzendorf’s oration cannot be put down to a lack of cultural awareness among the leading missionaries and settlers from Germany and Denmark, many of whom partook fully in the contemporary culture of late humanism, both before and after they crossed the Atlantic. Through detailed reconstructions of their educations, correspondence networks, reading habits and note-taking practices, we show the richness of the Moravians’ transatlantic culture of late humanism, which ran the gamut from Ciceronian oratory to pious poetry in learned languages. Basing our argument on a little-known body of archival and printed sources in Latin, German, English and indigenous languages, we argue that Moravian late humanism had a significant impact on the development and expression of the Moravian church’s unique theology, its missionaries’ study of native languages and their interactions with other groups in the Atlantic world. In so doing, we also place the Moravians in the context of contemporary intellectual life in New England, the Caribbean, Europe and the Catholic world.

Listings of manuscripts, documentary sources and early printed books have been provided for contributions which discuss them.