Advertisement

Voice and Wisdom in Early Italian Art

  • Matthew G. Shoaf
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

In later medieval Europe, categorical distinctions between the senses of sight and hearing informed the way that thinkers understood responses to art. Thirteenth-century theologians Saints Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas, for example, judged seeing images of Christ and the saints superior to hearing about them for the purpose of aiding memory and arousing devotion.1 In the fourteenth century, early commentators on Dante’s Commedia, responding to a well-known passage in the poem about sculptures that appear to speak and sing, underscored the wonder of that enlivened quality by explaining that speech is normally grasped through hearing, not through sight.2 It does not follow, however, that medieval artists strictly segregated the senses, or that medieval art conveyed nothing about auditory experience. Indeed, sculptors and painters in Dante’s time empowered images to make claims on sound. These claims are especially evident where images addressed their audiences as the beholders of voices.

Keywords

Open Mouth Fourteenth Century Visible Speech Auditory Experience Human Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas Aquinas, In III Sententiarum 9.1.2b, in S. Thomae Aquinatis Opera omnia, ed. Robert Busa (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1980), 1:294;Google Scholar
  2. for discussion, see David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 162–63.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Francesco da Buti, Commento di Francesco da Buti sopra la “Divina Commedia” di Dante Alighieri, ed. Crescentino Giannini (Pisa: Nistri, 1858–1862), 2:237.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Filippo Villani, De origine civitatis Florentiae et eiusdem famosis civibus, trans. John Adams, in Giotto in Perspective, ed. Laurie Schneider (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1974), 37.Google Scholar
  5. For the Latin text, see Julius von Schlosser, ed., Quellenbuch zur Kunstgeschichte des abendländischen Mittelalters (Vienna: Verlag von Carl Graeser, 1896), 370–71.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Heinrich Wölfflin, Classic Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance, trans. Peter Murray and Linda Murray (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 3.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Donal Cooper and Marika Leino, eds., Depth of Field: Relief Sculpture in Renaissance Italy (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007), 183n35.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    See, for example, Moshe Barasch, Giotto and the Language of Gesture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990);Google Scholar
  9. Emma Dillon, “Representing Obscene Sound,” in Medieval Obscenities, ed. Nicola McDonald (Woodbridge, UK: York Medieval Press, 2006), 55–84;Google Scholar
  10. Frank Büttner, “Hören Sehen: Klänge in der Malerei der Renaissance und des Barock,” in Mit allen Sinnen: Sehen, Hören, Schmecken, Riechen und Fühlen in der Kunst, ed. Andrea Gottdang and Regina Wohlfarth (Leipzig: Henschel, 2010), 46–68.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 351, 410.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Dante, Purgatorio 10.22–105, trans. Charles S. Singleton (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Roger Tarr, “‘Visibile parlare’: The Spoken Word in Fourteenth-Century Central Italian Painting,” Word & Image 13.3 (1997): 236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 16.
    Excellent photographic reproductions of facial details of Peter, Martha, and Lazarus are found in Giuseppe Basile, Giotto: The Arena Chapel Frescoes (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993), 177–79.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Lorenzo Ghiberti, Lorenzo Ghibertis Denkwürdigkeiten (I Commentarii), ed. Julius von Schlosser (Berlin: Julius Bard, 1912), 1:20.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    Anne Derbes and Mark Sandona, The Usurer’s Heart: Giotto, Enrico Scrovegni, and the Arena Chapel in Padua (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008), 132.Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    translation in O. K. Werckmeister, “The Lintel Fragment Representing Eve from Saint-Lazare, Autun,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 35 (1972): 12–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 25.
    Giordano da Pisa, Quaresimale fiorentino, 1305–1306, ed. Carlo Delcorno (Florence: Sansoni, 1974), 294–95.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    François Garnier, Le Langage de l’image au Moyen Age: Signification et symbolique, 2d ed. (Paris: Le Léopard d’Or, 1982), 135–36.Google Scholar
  20. Debra Higgs Strickland, Saracens, Demons, and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 48.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    Hans Belting, “The New Role of Narrative in Public Painting of the Trecento: Historia and Allegory,” in Pictorial Narrative in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. Herbert L. Kessler and Marianna Shreve Simpson (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1985), 151–68.Google Scholar
  22. 28.
    Brunetto Latini, The Book of the Treasure (Li Livres dou Tresor), trans. Paul Barrette and Spurgeon Baldwin (New York: Garland, 1993), 279.Google Scholar
  23. 29.
    Dante Alighieri, De vulgari eloquentia, ed. and trans. Steven Botterill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 35.Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    Jacques Le Goff and Jean-Claude Schmitt, “Au XIII siècle: Une parole nouvelle,” in Histoire vécue du peuple chrétien, ed. Jean Delumeau (Toulouse: Privat, 1979), 1:257–79.Google Scholar
  25. 31.
    Carol Lansing, Passion and Order: Restraint of Grief in the Medieval Italian Communes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  26. 33.
    Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), 42–52.Google Scholar
  27. 34.
    Joan Ferrante, “The Relation of Speech to Sin in the Inferno,” Dante Studies, no. 87 (1969): 33–46.Google Scholar
  28. 35.
    Dante, Inferno, 4.26–27, trans. Charles S. Singleton (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  29. 37.
    Lucia Battaglia Ricci, Ragionare nel giardino: Boccaccioei cicli pittorici del Trionfo della Morte (Rome: Salerno, 2000), 114–15, 118, 248–52, 254–55.Google Scholar
  30. 38.
    R. Howard Bloch, Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 17–33;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Carla Casagrande, “The Protected Woman,” trans. Clarissa Botsford, in A History of Women in the West, vol. 2, Silences of the Middle Ages, ed. Christiane Klapisch-Zuber (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1992), 98–101.Google Scholar
  32. 42.
    Jeremy Cohen, The Friars and the Jews: The Evolution of Medieval Anti-Judaism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), 238–41.Google Scholar
  33. 43.
    See, for example, Saint Bonaventure, Meditations on the Life of Christ: An Illustrated Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, ed. Isa Ragusa and Rosalie B. Green, trans. Isa Ragusa (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), 319, 325–29, 332–33;Google Scholar
  34. James H. Marrow, “Circumdederunt me canes multi: Christ’s Tormentors in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance,” Art Bulletin 59.2 (June 1977): 174–75, 178–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. See Matthew G. Shoaf, “Giovanni Pisano’s Marble Wounds: Beholding Artistic Self-Defense in the Pisa Cathedral Pulpit,” in Beholding Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, ed. Allie Terry-Fritsch and Erin Felicia Labbie (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012), 39–59, at 43 and 46.Google Scholar
  36. 47.
    See Howard Mayer Brown, “Ambivalent Trecento Attitudes Toward Music: An Iconographical View,” in Music and Context: Essays for John M. Ward, ed. Anne Dhu Shapiro (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Department of Music, 1985), 79–107.Google Scholar
  37. 51.
    Alastair Smart, The Assisi Problem and the Art of Giotto: A Study of the Legend of St. Francis in the Upper Church of San Francesco, Assisi (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 279–80.Google Scholar
  38. 60.
    Isa. 6.4–9. For detailed discussion of this motif, see Marcia Kupfer, “Spiritual Passage and Pictorial Strategy in the Romanesque Frescoes at Vicq,” Art Bulletin 68.1 (March 1986): 46–52;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. and Cynthia Hahn, “Purification, Sacred Action, and the Vision of God: Viewing Medieval Narratives,” Word & Image 5.1 (1989): 73–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. See Millard Meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death: The Arts, Religion, and Society in the Mid-fourteenth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), Figure 52.Google Scholar
  41. 61.
    Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 307.Google Scholar
  42. 63.
    André Vauchez, “The Pastoral Transformation of the Thirteenth Century,” in André Vauchez, The Laity in the Middle Ages: Religious Beliefs and Devotional Practices, ed. Daniel E. Bornstein, trans. Margery J. Schneider (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993), 100.Google Scholar
  43. 64.
    See Carla Casagrande, “Le Calame du Saint-Esprit: Grâce et rhétorique dans la prédication au XIIIe siècle,” in La Parole du prédicateur, Ve–XVe siècle, ed. Rosa Maria Dessì and Michel Lauwers (Nice: Centre d’études médiévales, 1997), 235–54;Google Scholar
  44. 65.
    Laura Jacobus, Giotto and the Arena Chapel: Art, Architecture, and Experience (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2008), 227.Google Scholar
  45. 66.
    Bartolomeo da San Concordio, Ammaestramenti degli antichi latini e toscani raccolti e volgarizzati per Fra Bartolommeo da san Concordio, ed. Vincenzo Nannucci (Florence: Ricordi, 1840), 145.Google Scholar
  46. 67.
    See Lynn White, Jr., “The Iconography of Temperantia and the Virtuousness of Technology,” in Action and Conviction in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Memory of E. J. Harbison, ed. Theodore K. Rabb and Jerrold E. Seigel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 206–207.Google Scholar
  47. 70.
    see Teodolinda Barolini, “Re-Presenting What God Presented: The Arachnean Art of Dante’s Terrace of Pride,” Dante Studies 105 (1987): 43–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Irit Ruth Kleiman 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew G. Shoaf

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations