Artibus et Historiae no. 26 (XIII)

1992, ISSN 0391-9064

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PATRICIA FORTINI BROWN - The Antiquarianism of Jacopo Bellini

Jacopo Bellini's collection of drawings is shown to be the product of a particular historical moment in which humanism, antiquarianism, and artistic sensibilities conjoined in the artist's personal reappropriation of the classical world. In all likelihood, the albums were inspired by the antiquarian sylloge, and can even be regarded as its pictorial counterpart. Popularized by Ciriaco d'Ancona, the sylloge was a compilation of classical remains: inscriptions, renderings of pagan monuments, coins, and gems, and imaginary scenes of daily life in ancient Rome. It reached its most eloquent expression in the Collectio Antiquitatis of Giovanni Marcanova. The analogies and distinctions that can be discerned between Marcanova's codices and Bellini's albums offer revealing evidence of the artist's personal approach to antiquity. While his drawings of antique settings evoke the classical world through the Gothic idiom of the Venetian present, they also reveal a novel sense of the past in their awareness of time passing and their ambivalence towards the seductive attractions of pagan antiquity.

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