Artibus et Historiae no. 78 (XXXIX)

2018, ISSN 0391-9064

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- Introduction (Carlo Corsato and Juliette Ferdinand) (pp. 11–13)

The first idea for this volume came up in 2016. Bernard was away on one of his research trips – not for nothing is he nicknamed ‘the flying Dutchman’ – when a few of his former PhD students assembled in his office at the University of Verona. What started as a simple chat and a cosy get-together reminiscing about all those years of research under Bernard’s supervision developed into a kind of premature nostalgia, as though his imminent retirement had already removed not only his name from the office door, but also his legacy. To all of us who felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to study and work with him, came the spontaneous idea to continue his legacy by paying tribute to the man and the teacher in the best possible way: by writing about art in his honour.

This harking back with fondness to the many years we spent with Bernard quickly prompted us to transform our enthusiasm into a serious commitment and a concrete plan of action. We happily took the lead, and, as Prof. Józef Grabski generously supported the project from the beginning, we could start involving our colleagues and friends in the enterprise. All Bernard’s former and current PhD students were invited to submit a paper to this Festschrift. The response was hugely positive and we are very grateful to everyone for the enthusiasm and encouragement that they brought to the project. We are sorry that some have not been able to contribute for one reason or another. To those who were able to respond positively to our invitation goes our gratitude: the high quality of scholarship of the papers speaks for itself, and should make Bernard proud in the knowledge that all the contributors were students of his, either in the Netherlands, Belgium, or Italy.

To everybody who knows Bernard well, and his passion for art history, it will not come as a big surprise to notice the breadth of the topics, artists, periods, and methods discussed in this volume. His expertise ranges from Italian, especially Venetian art, to Flemish and German painting, and his field of interests includes, among many others, iconography, art collecting, cultural studies, and the geography of art. All these aspects are fully investigated in this volume, and they made our editorial work as interesting as it was challenging. In fact, having assembled our crew, we now needed a map for what promised to be a sort of pictorial navigation – to cite the title of Marco Boschini’s Carta del navegar pittoresco. Our two-year-long ‘navigation’ was not at all easy, as it forced us into a mental journey across the Alps, from Flanders to Italy and back, as well as travel through time, from the fourteenth to the end of the eighteenth century. The structure we eventually chose should be used in a flexible way: sections, in fact, are not meant to represent disciplinary barriers – something we and Bernard never believed in – but should rather aid in grouping the contributions around themes and works of art so as to promote multi- and cross-disciplinary research.

In the first section, ‘Image and Meaning’, Denise Zaru analyses how mnemotechnical practices, described in fifteenth-century sources, may help understand the representation of architecture in Venetian altarpieces of the period. Arvi Wattel provides a political interpretation of the ceiling painted by Garofalo in the palace of Antonio Costabili, one of the most prominent citizens of Renaissance Ferrara. Bram de Klerck investigates Fra Bartolommeo’s landscapes and reveals, behind the depiction of natural details, hidden symbolism rooted in theology and devotion. Erlend De Groot proves that, despite their mediocre artistic qualities and lack of any traces of beauty, the Giant Radish and the Still Life with Pig’s Head in the Rijksmuseum can be fully appreciated as visual historical documents.

In the second section, ‘North and South’, Isabella di Lenardo describes the connection between the Flemish mercantile community in late Renaissance Venice and the shaping of new pictorial genres. Andrea Leonardi explores the North-South relationship within the Italian peninsula and documents the interest in collecting Venetian art in Apulia and the Genoese Republic. Maria Forcellino describes Johan Meerman’s Grand Tour to Venice and presents a few excerpts of his fascinating and unpublished travel journal.

In the third section ‘Image and Artistic Creativity’, Carlo Corsato offers a detailed study of the Louvre Crucifixion by Paolo Veronese and provides a new visual reconstruction of this peculiar composition. Thomas Dalla Costa compares drawings by Jacopo Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, and explains their respective techniques and workshop practices. Francesca Cocchiara sheds new light on the activity of Giulio Carpioni and Francesco Ruschi, two often neglected, yet fascinating seventeenth-century peintres-graveurs.

In the fourth section, Word and Image’, Juliette Ferdinand tackles the debate around the legitimacy of art during the Wars of Religion through a thorough analysis of the introduction to the French translation of Albrecht Dürer’s Four Books on Human Proportion by Louis Meigret. Andrea Polati studies the (lost?) Allegory of Human Life, attributed to Giorgione by Carlo Ridolfi, as well as the Cassinelli collection through the accurate analysis of archival documentation and primary sources. Last but not least, Adriano Aymonino fully reconstructs the critical reception of Lodovico Dolce’s Dialogo della pittura, intitolato l’Aretino and its crucial role in the theoretical foundation of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century classicism.

A quick look at Bernard’s list of publications, included at the end of this volume, will suffice to appreciate how all these papers are intimately linked to his very own research activity. In a certain sense, we may say that these contributions and their authors are like his children and, as every good father does, he should be proud and pleased to see how they have become adult and independent.

There are scholars that do not enjoy receiving Festschrifts, as these may be received as morbid anticipations of future obituaries. We, however, are pretty much convinced that Bernard will treasure this volume as much as we will never forget what we have learnt from him. 

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