Artibus et Historiae no. 15 (VIII)

1987, ISSN 0391-9064

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JACOPO BENCI, SILVIA STUCKY - Investigating Bellini's Lamentation Altarpiece. Bonaventura da Forlì and the Order of the Servants of Mary in Venice

On the basis of data previously overlooked, the altarpiece now is dated to 1509-10, and suppositions are made as to who may have commissioned it, considering that the painting was originally located in the church of S. Maria dei Servi in Venice. Studies of the work, descriptions of the church, the history of the Order of the Servants of Mary, and the Osservanza congregation within it, allow us to identify the two clerics in the painting. In keeping with the iconographic context and with events connected with the Servi in Venice in the period of 1491-1510, the figures must be Giuliana Falconieri, first woman "exemplum" of the order, and Bonaventura da Forli, eminent preacher of the Observance. The two personages are set in the context of the special devotion on the part of the Observance for Christ crucified and the cross. This is exemplified in the Triumphi (1491) - a collection of religious poems put together by Gasparino Borro, prior of S. Maria dei Servi, in which Bonaventura da Forli is also mentioned - as well as in the erecting in the same church, of an altar to the Cross (1498-1510) sponsored by Guglielmo Dona, ambassador of the Venetian Republic.

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