Since Roberto Longhi (1934-1935; 1950) modern scholarship has got a critical grasp of the original change Bolognese painting and illumination showed as a result of the epochal turn of Giotto’s new realism in the first half of fourteenth century. Art historians have widely studied the direct expressive force of Bolognese Trecento and the role of Byzantinising and North European gothic influences. The article focuses on one among the protagonists of this moment, working in the 1330s-1340s, the anonymous illuminator nicknamed l’Illustratore by Longhi himself, and suggests a new interpretation of his disruption of Giottesque balance on the basis of the didactic function as mnemonic images that miniatures performed in the law manuscripts produced for Bologna University, the main European center for this kind of objects. This approach depends on the observations by Frances Yates (1966) and especially Jean-Philippe Antoine (1988; 1992; 1993) about the correspondence between the mental images used in religious meditation shaped as active images set in tridimensional places according to the rules of the classical and medieval artificial memory and the great change of Italian religious painting between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. If one considers miniatures in legal manuscripts as a network of images supporting lawyers’ memory, it appears that the lively narrative and expressive energy of the Illustratore properly answered the need of something striking and unusual mnemonic images should show to be memorable according to the first-century-BC Rhetorica ad Herennium.

Giotto for Lawyers: Assimilation and Disruption of Giotto’s New Realism in Bolognese Legal Illustrations of the First Half of the Fourteenth Century

Gianluca del Monaco
2021

Abstract

Since Roberto Longhi (1934-1935; 1950) modern scholarship has got a critical grasp of the original change Bolognese painting and illumination showed as a result of the epochal turn of Giotto’s new realism in the first half of fourteenth century. Art historians have widely studied the direct expressive force of Bolognese Trecento and the role of Byzantinising and North European gothic influences. The article focuses on one among the protagonists of this moment, working in the 1330s-1340s, the anonymous illuminator nicknamed l’Illustratore by Longhi himself, and suggests a new interpretation of his disruption of Giottesque balance on the basis of the didactic function as mnemonic images that miniatures performed in the law manuscripts produced for Bologna University, the main European center for this kind of objects. This approach depends on the observations by Frances Yates (1966) and especially Jean-Philippe Antoine (1988; 1992; 1993) about the correspondence between the mental images used in religious meditation shaped as active images set in tridimensional places according to the rules of the classical and medieval artificial memory and the great change of Italian religious painting between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. If one considers miniatures in legal manuscripts as a network of images supporting lawyers’ memory, it appears that the lively narrative and expressive energy of the Illustratore properly answered the need of something striking and unusual mnemonic images should show to be memorable according to the first-century-BC Rhetorica ad Herennium.
Gianluca del Monaco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/837458
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