Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century

Article excerpt

After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the Sixteenth Century. By Marcia B. Hall. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1999, Pp. xvi, 349; 16 color plates. $60.00.)

A book which seeks to contextualize the painting of sixteenth-century Italy in terms of the period's social, religious, political, and literary issues has long been needful. In many ways Macia Hall's After Raphael has filled that gap. It is a work in which there is much to praise. Much of it is eloquently written, the limpid descriptive style of her passages on Michelangelo's Last Judgment and Pauline Chapel frescoes, or the religious paintings of Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino bring to mind the best of the work of Sydney Freedberg, to whom Hall pays tribute in her introduction and clearly acknowledges as her mentor. Unlike Freedberg, however, she seeks to bring clarity and definition to the chronology of the art of Rome and Florence by providing detailed accounts of the motives of not only painters but their patrons as well. She consistently emphasizes the artistic contributions and ideology (or lack thereof) of each Pope, from the impact of Julius II's vision of the new Rome to the renovation (in both practical and spiritual terms) of Sixtus V. Particularly useful are her sections on the overlooked Jacopo di Ripanda and the significance of his commissions at the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Episcopal Palace at Ostia to the development of the iconography of sixteenth-century Rome. She is strong on the relationship between painters such as Salviati and the Farnese family, giving clarity and context to a complex yet pivotal moment in papal patronage. A welcome emphasis is placed on the importance of prints to the dissemination of ideas, as both tools of stylistic influence and in the religio-political arena. She describes the fervor of anti-Catholic sentiment that Cranach's Pope as Antichrist pamphlet could have whipped up in the German troops as they invaded Rome in 1527. …

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