Sunday, 27 January 2013

Recovering the Dugento.

 Master of the Orcangesque Misericordia, Head of Christ, c. 1380, tempera on wood, gold ground, 29.5 x 20.6 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
It would be a mistake to think that Giotto’s achievement marked the demise of the Dugento Byzantine- influenced style in Florence. For a long time, the advent of Giotto was put on a par with the shifting of tectonic plates, or a form of continental drift, but the situation was more complicated than that. As Meiss pointed out, even though Giotto’s followers transcended and denied the Dugento, they nonetheless assimilated some of it into their own art. Reactionary artists like Orcagna attempted the recovery of the thirteenth-century or Dugento, though his roots are still in Giotto. [1] The residue of Pre-Giotto-esque painting is revealed by scrutiny of iconography, expression and colour. For example, the colours of Dugento panels and mosaics show up in the work of Florentine masters like Jacopo di Cione, one of Orcagna’s brothers (though more sombre in hue), Giovanni di Milano (favoured a light apple green), and Niccolo do Tomasso (light orange, especially in the hair). A particularly revealing panel in the Met, once attributed to Bernardo Daddi, a Holy Face, has flesh colours of dark red-brown, with terra verde underpainting, which is known to have used in Byzantine art.[2]
 Niccol√≤ di Tommaso, St Bridget and the Vision of the Nativity, after 1372, Pinacoteca, Vatican, Tempera on wood, 44 x 54 cm.
 Giovanni di Milano, Madonna and Child with Donors, c. 1365, tempera on wood, gold ground, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
 Jacopo di Cione, Coronation of the Virgin, 1370s, Panel, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence.

[1] Meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena After the Black Death, 44.
[2] Federico Zeri, Met catalogue, Italian Paintings: Florentine School, 1971. See also Meiss, 35-8.

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