This study examines the narrative paintings of the Passion of Christ created in Italy during the thirteenth century. Demonstrating the radical changes that occurred in the depiction of the Passion cycle during the Duecento, a period that has traditionally been dismissed as artistically stagnant, Anne Derbes analyses the relationship between these new images and similar renderings found in Byzantine sources. She argues that the Franciscan order, which was active in the Levant by the 1230s, was largely responsible for introducing these images into Italy. But Byzantine art was not imported for its irresistible attraction, as has previously been argued. Rather, Derbes contends, Byzantine images served as vital models, providing formal and iconographic solutions that could be adapted to the Franciscans' own spiritual programme.
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(253mm x 203mm x 15mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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UK Kirkus Review »
Ann Derbes's exemplary and unusually well-illustrated work of scholarship, Picturing the Passion in Late Medieval Italy , gives a fascinating account of the galvanizing part played by St Francis, 'the second Christ', in the formation of new attitudes towards religion and images in the 13th and 14th centuries. One lightly drawn moral of this important book is that it is no longer possible to insist on a hard demarcation line between the so-called medieval and Renaissance periods, whether in art or history. Derbes reminds us that the great turn towards naturalistic representation that lies at the heart of the Renaissance world - together with its renewed fascination with the depiction of human love, pain and other emotions - demonstrably had its origins in Franciscan piety. Take the medieval legacy out of the Renaissance and you remove its very soul. Going back yet further, and ranging further afield, Derbes also explores the way in which Franciscan ideas about 'bringing home the reality of Christ's suffering' were prefigured in the art and theology of the Byzantine East. Perhaps another moral lies here: there are no true beginnings in history. Review by Andrew Graham-Dixon, whose books include 'Renaissance' (Kirkus UK)
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