Subject Matter in Italian Renaissance Art: A Study of Early Sources
This work provides an exploration of what Italian Renaissance writers, patrons, and viewers thought about the iconography of the works of art around them. Looking at a great number of period texts, this book shows how Renaissance people often struggled to understand even straightforward iconographic meaning, let alone veiled or difficult subject matter. The author considers a broad range of sources, including diaries, letters, artist contracts, inventory entries, biographies, and art theory. The early texts are presented in English translation — including clarifying quotes in Italian and Latin — with citations giving the published source for the original language texts. This is the first book to consider the broad range of texts on this subject as it studies the full chronological span of the Quattrocento and Cinquecento, and looks at architecture as well as painting and sculpture. Much published work on the question of Renaissance iconography has called attention to difficult subject matter. There were, to be sure, some sophisticated patrons and learned humanist advisors, but works of veiled or obscure meaning were rare, and, as this book shows, knowledge of the significance was usually limited to that first small circle of the original patron, artist, and advisor. The book will be vital reading for art historians, but will also be of interest to a broad range of students and scholars of the Renaissance period.