Christianity and the Renaissance: Image and Religious Imagination in the Quattrocento

By Timothy Verdon; John Henderson | Go to book overview
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Did Savonarola's direct approach and his call for simplicity make this kind of ratiocination seem elitist, antidemocratic? Certainly one of the hallmarks of the new style of idealization was that it concealed difficulty, striving to make the picture look accessible and not artificial. It is also certain that patrons did not rush to revive the old style of pedestrian realism after Savonarola, and by 1506, when Perugino finished the high altarpiece for Santissima Annunziata in that style, it was derided as hopelessly old-fashioned. 73 And certainly the central achievement of the new style was the marriage of the spiritual with plausible reality.

In particular, see Gustave Gruyer, Les illustrations des écrits de J. Savonarole publiés en Italie au XV et XVI siécles et les paroles de Savonarole sur l'art ( Paris, 1879); Joseph Schnitzer, Savonarola, ein Kulturbild aus der Zeit der Renaissance, 2 vols. ( Munich: Reinhardt, 1924), esp. chap. 35, "Stellung zur Kunst und den Kunstlern"; Mario Ferrara, Prediche e scritti ( Milan: Hoepli, 1930); Anthony Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600 ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940); and André Chastel, Art et humanisme à Florence au temps de Laurent le magnifique ( Paris: Presse universitaire, 1959, 1982).
Ronald Steinberg, Savonarola, Florentine Art and Renaissance Historiography ( Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1977).
David Friedman, "The Burial Chapel of Filippo Strozzi in Sta. Maria Novella in Florence," L'arte, n.s. 3, no. 9 ( 1970): 109ff. Friedman makes the point that Strozzi had his tomb placed so that it functions as altarpiece behind the altar, an audacious and unprecedented arrangement in fifteenth-century chapels.
John W. O'Malley, Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome: Rhetoric, Doctrine, and Reform in the Sacred Orators of the Papal Court, c. 1450-1521 ( Durham: University of North Carolina Press, 1979).
Charles B. Schmidt, "Gianfrancesco Pico's Attitude toward his Uncle," in L'opera e il pensiero di G. Pico della Mirandola nella storia dell'umanismo, 2 vols. ( Florence: Istituto nazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, 1963) 2:305-13; Schmidt, in making the point that Savonarola has a mistrust of reason as the final authority which runs counter to the humanist philosophers, quotes his sermon of 15 August 1496: "Among the sciences of logic, philosophy, metaphysics and the other sciences, the greatest of all is that of Sacred Scripture."
Donald Weinstein, Savonarola and Florence: Prophesy and Patriotism in the Renaissance ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970).
An example is provided by his remarks on pagan learning, which illustrate an attitude more complex than it is usually made out to be. First, the impassioned exhortation: "Repent, I say, so that God will have mercy on you. You have many books in your house that you shouldn't have because shameful things are written in them. Burn these books that


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