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The Capuchins and the art of history

Lingo, Stuart Patrick (1998) The Capuchins and the art of history. : Retrospection and reform in the arts in late Renaissance Italy. UNSPECIFIED.

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The Capuchins, founded in 1527, forged the most radical succesfiil reform of the Franciscan Order. They attempted a material—as well as spiritual—return to the world of Saint Francis. The artistic implications of this position led the Capuchins toward a "medieval revival" that would seem to set them quite apart from their later Renaissance environment. However, since all direct links to the ideal past of early Franciscanism were lost. Capuchins found themselves in a situation analogous to that of the humanists who labored to reconstruct the classical past. This recognition of historical distance forced the friars to adopt Renaissance scholarly methods, including the antiquarian study of paintings, architecture, mosaics, and even early Franciscan seals (much as humanists studied ancient numismatics) to recover medieval Franciscan simplicity. The "paleo-Franciscan" revival was most evident in Capuchin architecture, which was often created by the friars. "It is not for us to observe the Doric, or Ionic..." wrote one of their early theorists. Numerous Capuchin churches eschew classicizing detail and resemble instead small Dugento Franciscan shrines such as San Damiano in Assisi, the church in which the Crucifix spoke to Francis and set him on his mission. The Capuchins were equally thorough when they approached medieval painting. They appreciated Dugento images initially as unique historical evidence in the battle over the definition of authentic Franciscanism. But their research led eventually to a positive revaluation of the stylistic qualities of medieval images, as models for a new religious art. Large public painting, such as altarpieces, challenged the Capuchin commitment to neo-medievalism: for such works were gifts from wealthy supporters, employing significant "modem" artists who would not simply revert to archaic styles. Nonetheless, several significant painters of the period—with artistic personalities as varied as Federico Barocci and Caravaggio—exhibited great sensitivity in incorporating Capuchin ideals into contemporary picture-making. The ultimate aim of my dissertation is to examine the nature of the negotiations that underlay these incorporations, and to begin to sketch the importance of retrospection—far beyond the confines of the Capuchin Order—in informing the expression of much late Renaissance art.

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Thesis UMI Number: 9832431
Uncontrolled Keywords: Capuchins, Art history, Late Renaissance Italy, Franciscan Order
Status: Published
Uncontrolled Keywords: Capuchins, Art history, Late Renaissance Italy, Franciscan Order
Date Deposited: 19 May 2021 08:59
Last Modified: 19 May 2021 08:59

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