Canon

May 1st, 2009

canon

Summaries

March 23rd, 2009

 

sum-3 

sum-21 

sum-11

Survey Text Analysis–Ross Haley

January 29th, 2009

survey-analysis (Click the link to see the notes/summary)

Test–Wesselmann Video/Bedroom Painting

January 20th, 2009

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/zoyHrgHa_bk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

Tom Wesselmann - Bedroom Painting No. 38--This is one of my favorites... 

Bibliography

December 11th, 2008

Works Cited

Aikema, Bernard. Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Durer and Titian. New York: Rizzoli, 2000.

Brown, Patricia Fortini. Art and Life in Renaissance Venice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Brown, Patricia Fortini. Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998.

Brown, David Allen. Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art; Vienna: Kunsthistorishes Museum in association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006.

Cole, Bruce. Titian and Venetian Painting, 1450-1590. Boulder, CO: Icon Editions, 1999.

Hibbert, Christopher. Venice: The Biography of a City. New York and London: WW Norton and Company, 1989.

Hills, Paul. Venetian Color: Marble, Mosaic, Painting and Glass, 1250-1450. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Humfrey, Peter. Painting in Renaissance Venice. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964.

Huse, Norbert and Wolfgang Wolters. The Art of Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Sculpture and Painting. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Kielty, Bernardine. Masters of painting : their works, their lives, their times. Garden City, NY

Levey, Michael. Painting in XVIII century Venice. London, Phaidon Press 1959.

Logan, Oliver. Culture and Society in Venice 1470-1790: The Renaissance and its Heritage. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972.

Meiss Millard. The Painter’s Choice: Problems in Interpretation in Renaissance Art. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.

Norwich, Julius. Venice: A History. New York: Knopf: distributed by Random House, 1982.

Pignatti, Terisio. The Golden Century of Venetian Painting. Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art ; New York : Distributed by G. Braziller, 1979.

Rosand, David. Painting in Cinquecento Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982.

Rosand, David. Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Roskill, Mark W. Dolce’s Aretino and Venetian Art Theory of the Cinqecento. [New York] Published for the College Art Association of America by New York University Press, 1968.

Schulz, Juergen.l Venetian Painted Ceilings of the Renaissance. Berkley: University of California Press, 1968.

Wilde, Johannes. Venetian Art from Bellini to Titian. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974.

Paper

December 11th, 2008
On the night of December 20, 1577, the second of two fires to strike the Venetian Palazzo Ducale in less than three years devastated both the Sala dello Scrutinio and the adjacent Sala Del Maggior Consiglio, causing the roofing of both chambers to collapse into a heap of ruin.[1] The 1577 fire also occasioned the loss of an intriguing cycle of paintings that recounted the Republic’s various military and diplomatic triumphs. The scenes depicted in the historic and allegorical tableaux that adorned the side walls of the ducal library and the hall of the Great Council engendered the serene harmony and stability that had come to characterize Venetian politics and society. The artistic proclivities of the Republic of Venice—La Serenissima—reflected the city’s unvarnished reputation for providing freedom, liberty, continuous stability and popular sovereignty to its citizenry.[2] These novel attributes, which contrasted sharply with the endemic violence and sectarian strife known to most Italian city-states, earned Venice a famed and upstanding reputation. This extraordinary continuity of Venice’s democratic apparatus coupled with its reputation for unsullied liberty, piety and social concord to produce what scholars have come to call the “myth of Venice.[3]” Yet, in spite of the immaculate image proffered by its elaborate artistic imagery and pageantry, Venice was, in fact, beset and greatly affected by the assailant winds of regional conflict, economic downturn and civil unrest. That Venice was able to uphold its glorious reputation amid the grim realities of sixteenth century Europe speaks remarkably well of its capacity to propagate an effective, albeit fictitious, image of confidence and prosperity. The secret to this extraordinary phenomena lies within the ruling administration’s uncanny ability to craftily mold and manipulate the conscious facts at hand to the effect of setting the Republic and its position vis-à-vis its violent neighbors in a favorable relief. To effect this outcome, Venice’s governing administration employed artistic imagery in the form of history and allegory painting to the ends of highlighting the Republic’s past glories and the persistent stability and effectiveness of its democratic institutions against the fiery backdrop of the chaos and insurgency that gripped Europe in the sixteenth century.[4]

The economic trends and regional balance of power that prevailed throughout the sixteenth century did not augur well for Venice and its commercial prospects. At the time of the catastrophic blaze that consumed much of the Palazzo Ducale, Venice was in the midst of a political and economic crisis of devastating proportions. The previous century had witnessed a massive erosion of the Republic’s imperial and economic assets with the prodigious expansion of the Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish empires into commercial realms that had once been the exclusive provenance of Venetian merchants.[5] In 1499 a dark malaise settled over the city’s commercial precincts when it was discovered that a fleet of ships sailing under the aegis of Portuguese merchants had, by way of a circuitous sea route around the southern shores of Africa, landed and established trading centers in Aden and Calicut, earning them exclusive dominion over the Eastern and Oriental spice trade.[6] Venice’s commercial empire was also dealt immeasurable damage when the Ottoman Turks seized Dalmatia and the islands of Crete and Cyprus, ultimately severing its vital links to the lucrative markets of the Levant.[7] Venice was in turn forced to rely on its increasingly stagnant mainland possessions to sustain its livelihood. At the same time, the Republican government was at an impasse over how to raise the necessary funds to lift the city out of the insoluble mire of bankruptcy. The Venetian government was ultimately forced to levy a series of exorbitant poll, wealth and land taxes in addition to tithes. Just as the patterns of trade and shifts in the balance of commercial power had precipitated Venice’s irrevocable economic decline, the auspicious rise of the Habsburg and Valois empires, in Spain and France respectively, prompted the abrupt diminution of the political and military influence of the Republic of Venice.[8]

Venice’s commercial and political ascendancy were inexorably marginalized in the wake of its shattering defeat by the combined forces of France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy, under the banner of the League of Cambrai, at the battle of Agnadello during the spring of 1509.[9] In spite of its initial success in routing the Republic’s army, factional bickering and conflicts of interest between the Holy See and its allies instigated the dismemberment of the League of Cambrai, thus allowing Venice to reacquire the mainland territories it had lost during the war. Yet, in spite of its miraculous survival and the subsequent restitution of its mainland possessions, it had become undeniably evident to the Republican populace that the era of Venetian military dominance and political prepotency was nearing its fateful conclusion. The shifts in the centers of political and military gravity during the sixteenth century had conferred upon Venice a status of diminished prestige and abbreviated influence in the surrounding region.[10] The war had also prompted a series of structural alterations in Venice’s governing institutions, effectively tipping the balance of the scale of authority in favor of a small group of elite nobles within the Republican Senate and the esoteric Council of Ten. The extension of the de facto centralization of authority necessitated by the War with the League of Cambrai in the decades following the conflict reflects the growing anxiety of the government as public confidence in the latter’s ability to effectively manage the affairs of state while preserving a semblance of military preeminence continued to wane. It was amid this atmosphere of anxious uncertainty that the Venetian government took it upon itself to embark upon an ambitious project designed to bolster public morale and uphold the myth of Venice in the public’s consciousness.[11] The Senate then proceeded to form a commission of three surveyors: Giacomo Contarini, Girolamo Bardi and Giacomo Marcello; whose expressed mandate was to conceive an iconographic program for a cycle of allegorical and historic narrative paintings whose function was to instantiate the divine ordination of the republican government of Venice and to extol the noble exploits of La Serenissima.

Prior to the 1577 conflagration, the walls of the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council were bedecked by a series of paintings commemorating the array of portentous events surrounding the 1117 Peace of Venice, in which the Doge Sebastiano Ziani brokered an arranged peace between the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III. For its efforts in mediating a peace between the Holy See and the Holy Roman Empire, the Pope bequeathed to the Republic a number of symbolic gifts called the trionfi—the triumphs.[12] These gifts symbolized the Papacy’s accidence to the Venetian Republic’s divinely ordained status as a stalwart of Christian values and commercial and military prominence. The writers of the new iconographic program for the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council sought to expand the scope of the previous cycle by commissioning a series of history paintings whose function was to evoke a strong sense of civic pride and confidence in the hearts and minds of Venice’s civic legislators and, by extension, the Venetian people.[13] The post-1577 cycle is comprised of a series of paintings depicting various events in the Republic’s history such as the Fourth Crusade (1204) and the War with the League of Cambrai (1509-16). These paintings were intended to serve a didactic function as records of Venetian history, in addition to propagating a favorable image of the Republic within the context of its past accomplishments.[14] The history cycles executed in both the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council feature a thematic evolution that eventually culminates in the tribune wall paintings, which depict the Last Judgment and Paradise, respectively. The tribune wall paintings employ a religious iconographic vocabulary to the ends of affirming the divine ordination of all the events depicted in the secular history cycles. By forging a veritable link between the will of the Almighty and the proceedings of Venice’s governing administration, the history paintings provide a cogent basis for asserting the infallibility of the Great Council in all matters pertaining to civil governance and spiritual intermediation. The history cycles of the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council serve, ultimately, as a means of verifying the Republic’s political, economic and cultural ascendancy in light of the torrential shifts and upheaval of sixteenth century Europe.

In the late 12th century, most of Central and Western Europe was swept by an intense desire to reclaim the Christian Holy Land from its corrupt and oppressive Islamic occupiers. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, western Christendom split off into a varied array of small and independent states and kingdoms that extended their dominions through feudal arrangements and territorial conquest.[15] Many of these feudal kingdoms sought to revive the sense of political solidarity that had reigned throughout the golden age of the Roman Empire by uniting under the banner of Christ. A variety of political interests combined with religious fervor and economic ambitions to unite a number of the feudal kingdoms of Europe during the crusades of the middle ages. Yet, in spite of the intense religious determination that united the disparate kingdoms of Central and Western Europe, the Republic of Venice was content to maintain its commercial ties to the Islamic Caliphates of the Middle East and extend its influence through the channels of peaceful commerce.[16] However, Venice’s hitherto neutral stance towards the religious crusades was altered in the early thirteenth century when the newly elected Doge, Enrico Dandolo, sought to extend the reach of Venice’s commercial empire and thereby circumscribe the economic assets of its trading rival, Genoa, by joining the fourth crusade.[17]

In 1199, Fulk of Neuilly, a preacher renowned for his charisma and fiery rhetoric, compelled the young king of France, Tibald, to commission a crusade whose two-pronged objective was to expel the Islamic Saracens from the Holy Land and to reclaim all of the hallowed sites and relics of Jerusalem in the name of France and Christendom.[18] After having secured the blessing of Pope Innocent, Tibald hastily dispatched a retinue of diplomats and associates to his fellow princes in France, Germany and Flanders, entreating them to join his noble crusade. The resulting army was thus composed of a variety of Christian knights from across France and the Holy Roman Empire. The crusader army and its leaders were then faced with the logistical dilemma of transporting both its soldiers and supplies from the south of France to Palestine. After having conferred with his military staff, the anointed leader of the consortium of Christian knights, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, announced his plan to mitigate the vast distance from France to Palestine by taking a shorter sea-route through the Mediterranean to the Saracen’s weak left flank in Egypt. The only problem with this course, however, was the fact that the French did not have the requisite number of ships to transport such a tremendous volume of both men and supplies from France to Egypt. In consideration of its lack of sea-worthy vessels, the French knights, during the first week of Lent in 1201, sent emissaries to the only European power with a navy large enough to transport the crusader army and its supplies to the Egyptian coast—Venice.

Following a period of intense and prolonged debate and deliberation, both the Senate and Great Council of Venice decided in favor of ferrying the French knights and their supplies to Egypt, in addition to lending a contingent of its own soldiers and a small fleet of warships to the fourth crusade. In return for its much needed aid and assistance, Geoffrey de Villehardouin and the French knights hesitatingly agreed to pay the city of Venice an exorbitant sum of 84,000 silver marks.[20] In addition to the enormous monetary emolument, Venice was also to receive one half of all the land and spoils captured during the course of the crusade. In the interest of preserving a sense of concord among his men, de Villehardouin and his circle of advisors decided to withhold both the details of the arrangement with Venice, as well as the plan to divert the assault on the Holy Land through Egypt from the rank-and-file of his army.[21] De Villehardouin feared that the disclosure of his plans to divert the army from its main objective in Palestine would precipitate the disintegration of his coalition. The Venetians willingly cooperated in the deception, for they had been, while negotiating the sum to be paid by the French knights, pursuing an elaborate scheme of deception and manipulation to the ultimate ends of soliciting the assembled army to attack Dalmatia and Constantinople.[22]

While negotiating the terms of the settlement with the French knights, the Venetians were also concluding a profitable trade agreement with representatives of the Ottoman Viceroy in Cairo, to whom the Venetian diplomats gave every assurance that the Republic would not aid in any effort to attack Egypt.[23] In considering everything that was at stake, the Venetians, for their part, decided to maintain their duplicity and proceed with the plan to launch the crusade from the city’s ports on the 24th of June, 1202. Amazingly, the Venetians managed to conceal their treachery and use the assemblage of crusaders to pursue their own plan of territorial expansion and conquest. The latter scheme was achieved through a combination of clever manipulation and cunning on the part of the Doge, Enrico Dandolo. It later became known that Dandolo had, in seeking to use the assembled army of crusaders to Venice’s advantage, stipulated a sum that he and the Venetian Senate knew the French could not afford.[24] The French knights’ failure to pay the extravagant sum stipulated by the Venetians was then used as a pretext for postponing the army’s departure. Instead of paying the remaining 34,000 silver marks, the French knights reluctantly agreed to digress even further from their initial aim by aiding the Venetians in attacking both Dalmatia and Constantinople.

In considering the program for the cycle of history paintings for the hall of the Great Council, the surveyors elected to include the fourth crusade among the other historical cycles on account of the latter event’s role in forging Venice’s formidable commercial empire and artistic tradition. The sacking of Constantinople and the seizure of Dalmatia were widely viewed as being instrumental in the foundation of Venice’s profitable trading empire.[25] The Venetians had, by capturing the capitol of the Byzantine Empire, effectively shifted the regional center of economic gravity to the Republic. Following the capture of Constantinople in 1204, the Venice firmly installed itself as the sole arbiter of commercial exchanges between Western Europe and the East. Venice’s status as the dominant interlocutor between Europe and the East ensured the Republic’s domination of regional patterns of trade, as the once powerful and preeminent Genoese and Byzantine Empires receded into relative obscurity.[26] Venice’s remarkable seizure of Constantinople was also conducive to the Republic’s cultural and artistic fermentation throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as a wave of Greek and Byzantine artists flocked to Venice along with a considerable number of treasured works of art. By focusing on the foundation of Venice’s artistic tradition and commercial empire, the writers of the iconographic program for the hall of the Great Council sought to create a sense of pride and esteem in the hearts and minds of the council members.

In particular, the painting titled The siege of Constantinople [fig 1], by Jacopo Tintoretto aptly illustrates and embodies the drama and magnitude of Venice’s role in the fourth crusade. Palma’s painting is representative of the style and relative tone of the other paintings in the cycle of works devoted to the fourth crusade. The painting’s stylistic portrayal of the figures and action and its similarity to the other paintings in the cycle reflects the rigid conservatism and unity of the program’s authors. The painting presents a highly contrived and idealized image of the struggle to capture the city of Constantinople from its Byzantine defenders. The painting cast the Venetian soldiers in a favorable and romantic light by focusing on their organization and skill as they disembark from the gallies and make their way from the beachheads to scale the walls of the city. The painting also evokes a sense of epic drama by emphasizing the individual courage and gallantry of the Venetian soldiers in the heated pitch of battle. Furthermore, Tintoretto’s image, executed in strict accordance to the prescriptions of the program surveyors[27], also features the Doge, Enrico Dandolo, amid the fighting. Dandolo is seen standing at the helm of one of the gallies, admonishing his men with calm gestures. The image of the Doge conveys a sense of confidence and refined stability. By focusing on multiple aspects of Venice’s victory during the fourth crusade, the program’s surveyors sought to instill a strong sense of pride and confidence in the councilors who viewed the painting. The determination of the program’s surveyors to convey a stable, confident and heroic image of Venice is also carried into the cycle of paintings devoted to Venice’s war with the League of Cambrai.

Venice’s war with the forces of the League of Cambrai in 1509 and the Republic’s subsequent victory was widely recognized as the ultimate test of the city’s democratic system under fire. The League of Cambrai was a coalition of states brought together by Pope Julius II in order to stem what was widely perceived to be the encroaching tide of Venetian dominance on the terra firma.[28] At the time of the war with the League, Venice had shifted its attention from its maritime possessions to its mainland dominion as its overseas empire proceeded to fade in the wake of Ottoman Turkish expansion in the Aegean and Mediterranean. The coalition included, besides the Papacy, a formidable consortium of Europe’s most prodigious and powerful states, including France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, the duchies of Milan and Ferrara, the republic of Florence and an assortment of small mercenary detachments from the cantons of central and southern Switzerland.[29]

Following the election of Julius II to the papacy, the pontiff sought to reassert the temporal authority of the Vatican by broadening the reach of its territorial dominion and its economic assets in mainland Italy. Julius II ignited the spark that was to explode into one of the most devastating and indecisive campaigns fought in Italy, when in 1505 he demanded that Venice relinquish its hold on the cities in the central Italian region of Romagna. Venice, at the time, could ill-afford a conflict with the bulk of its military forces occupied in fighting the Ottoman Turks in Dalmatia and the Aegean. In an effort to sooth the tensions with the Papacy, Venice announced its willingness to both acknowledge Papal sovereignty in the surrounding region of Romagna and to pay an annual tribute to the Vatican in return for allowing the Republic to extract revenue from the regional cities.[30] Julius II, after having categorically rejected Venice’s proposed solution for a peaceful settlement, proceeded to mobilize an army of immense proportion and destructive capacity, composed mainly of Italian and Swiss mercenaries.[31] By mid-March of 1508, Venice had provided further pretext for an assault on its mainland possessions by rejecting the Pope’s candidate for the vacant Bishopric of Vicenza, naming its own candidate instead. In response to what Julius II considered a personal affront and further provocation, the Pontiff proceeded to call on all of Christendom to array its military forces against the Venetian Republic to the ends of subduing its mainland army and depriving it of its possessions on the terra firma. On the 10th of December, 1508 representatives of the Papacy, France, the Holy Roman Empire and Ferdinand I of Spain concluded the terms of the treaty forming the League of Cambrai. The treaty entailed a set of provisions for the dismemberment of Venice’s possessions on the Italian peninsula and its disbursement among the treaty’s signatories.[32] The Holy Roman Empire was to receive Istria, Verona, Vicenza, Padua and Friuli. France was to annex Brescia, Crema, Bergano, and Cremona as part of its Milanese possessions.[33] The remainder of the captured territory, including Ravenna and Rimini, were to be absorbed into the Papal states.

On the 15 April, 1509, King Louis XII of France proceeded to march his army from Milan into Venetian territory in the southeast. To oppose the incoming wave of French and Milanese troops, Venice hired two Condottiere—mercenary commanders—named Bartolomeo d’Alviano and Nicolo di Pitigliano. The Venetians, however, failed to consider the intense disagreements and enmity that existed between the two Condottiere. The negative sentiments that pervaded the personal relationship of the two Condottiere worked to effectively preclude the formation of a viable strategy to halt the flow of incoming troops from both the north and the south.[34] On May 14, 1509 the French army under King Louis XII crossed the Adda river, engaging the forces of Nicolo di Pitigliano. During the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of Agnadello, the French and Milanese forces managed to quickly surround and almost completely destroy Pitigliano’s mercenary contingent.[35] Upon receiving news of the disaster at Agnadello, the Venetian Senate dispatched emissaries to the Papal representatives with an appeal for an immediate peace on whatever grounds the Pope determined. The harsh terms insisted on by the Pope entailed the loss of Venice’s traditional prerogative to appoint clergy in its territory, in addition to the loss of all jurisdiction over Papal subjects in the city of Venice. The cities in the immediate vicinity of Romagna that had prompted the war were to be returned to the Papacy and a litany of harsh indemnities was to be paid to cover the Vatican’s expenses in capturing the latter cities.[36] The Republican Senate, having argued for two months over the provisions of the treaty, was left with little choice but to accept the terms of surrender on February 25th, 1510.

The official cessation of hostilities between Venice and the Papacy did not, however, extend to the French, as the army of King Louis XII proceeded to enter the Veneto region in March of 1510. The subsequent death of Pitigliano, the Venetian Condottieri, in January of 1510 had left Andrea Gritti in command of the Venetian forces. In spite of the Holy Roman Empire’s failure to reinforce Louis XII, the French army was nonetheless sufficient to drive the Venetians from Vicenza by May of 1510.] Gritti then proceeded to garrison the city of Padua in anticipation of an attack by a combined Franco-Imperial army. Louis XII, however, abandoned his plans for a siege upon the death of his principle advisor and personal friend, the Cardinal d’Amboise. Venice was thus saved from ultimate destruction. Venice’s miraculous survival was widely viewed as an act of divine intervention on behalf of a Holy Republic, beset by the forces of autocracy and evil tyranny.[38]

The writers of the history cycle of the hall of the Great Council and the Scrutinio sought to capitalize on the survival of Venice’s system of democratic government by commissioning Jacopo Palma Il Giovane to execute the crowning work of a cycle of history paintings depicting the war between Venice the armies of the League, titled Allegory of the League of Cambrai [fig 2] . The finished painting by Palma constitutes an allegorical tribute to Venice’s divinely ordained system of republican democracy over the forces of wanton aggression and oppressive tyranny, as represented by the forces of the League of Cambrai.[39] Palma’s work, along with the other paintings in the same cycle, emphasize Venice’s symbolic and moral victory over the League, while conveniently omitting any allusion to Venice’s catastrophic military defeat and diplomatic humiliation at the hands of the French and the Papacy during the war with the League of Cambrai.[40] The historical cycle commemorating Venice’s war with the League of Cambrai suppresses the known fact of its own shattering defeat by emphasizing the triumph of freedom and justice (personified by the two figures hovering above the Doge) over the forces of tyranny and aggression as signified by the two figures towards the bottom right representing the League. By viewing the War with the League of Cambrai as a victory of the freedom and justice of Venice’s government, the governing administration has both willfully suppressed the known fact of its own devastating military defeat and fabricated an image of freedom, justice, and democracy amid the increasing centralization and oligarchic orientation of the Venetian government.[41] This form of artful deception also guided the conception and subsequent execution of a small cycle of paintings devoted to Venice’s strategically indecisive victory over the Ottoman Turks at the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Venice’s dubious parlay and subsequent victory at the battle of Lepanto in 1571 had a resounding moral impact that far exceeded the battle’s strategic significance. On October 7, 1571 the navy of the Holy League, which was primarily composed of ships and sailors from Venice, confronted the massive gathering of Turkish war vessels off the coast of Western Greece in the Gulf of Patras.[42] The ensuing five hour battle between the forces of Western Christendom and the Ottoman Empire witnessed the destruction of dozens of vessels in addition to thousands of casualties on both sides. Ultimately, the League’s application of new and innovative naval tactics combined with their effective use of canon to crush the numerically superior Ottoman forces. The Holy League’s victory at the Battle of Lepanto gave the latter temporary control over the Central and Western Mediterranean and was instrumental in temporarily halting the further advance of Ottoman forces into Southeastern Europe. Yet, in spite of their overwhelming victory, the inability of the League’s members to preserve internal cohesion ultimately precluded an effective consolidation of the victory at Lepanto.[43] The diplomatic deadlock and factional bickering that prevailed among the members of the Holy League afforded the Ottoman Turks the necessary time to rebuild their fleet and launch a new offensive into the Central and Southern Mediterranean basin. By the following year, the Ottomans had rebuilt and reequipped their navy and began to launch raids into the Central Mediterranean from the former Venetian strongholds in the Aegean islands and Cyprus. The Ottomans also soon began to expand into Christian territory in Northern Africa, evicting the Spanish from the strategic and commercially vital ports of Oran, Tunis and Algiers in 1574. [44] For the Venetians, the Holy League’s victory at the battle of Lepanto amounted to little more than a temporary boost in morale as the Republic’s regional influence continued to wane in the face of Ottoman expansion.

By commissioning a cycle of paintings celebrating the Republic’s recent victory over the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Lepanto, the writers of the decorative program for the Hall of the Great Council sought to uplift the city’s morale and to allay fears of an impending invasion of the Adriatic by the Turks. The painting titled, Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto [fig 3] by Paolo Veronese, effectively captures the heroic spirit and triumph the cycle’s authors wished to convey to the viewing public. The composition is comprised by religious and allegorical figures representing the Divine ordination of the triumph of Venetian freedom, independence and republicanism against the wanton aggression and tyranny of the Ottoman Turks. By focusing on Venice’s recent victory over the forces that had precipitated the latter’s naval and commercial decline, the painting’s authors sought to revive the pride and esteem the Venetians once ascribed to its military forces.

The history cycles executed in both the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council both feature a thematic evolution that ultimately culminates in the tribune wall paintings depicting the Last Judgment by Tintoretto and Paradise by Veronese, respectively. The tribune wall paintings employ a religious iconographic vocabulary to the ends of affirming the divine ordination of all the events depicted in the secular history cycles. By forging a veritable link between the will of the Almighty and the proceedings of Venice’s governing administration, the history paintings provide a cogent basis for asserting the infallibility of the Great Council in all matters pertaining to civil governance and spiritual intermediation. The history cycles of the hall of the Scrutinio and the hall of the Great Council serve, ultimately, as a means of verifying the Republic’s political, economic and cultural ascendancy in light of the torrential shifts and upheaval of sixteenth century Europe.

Paper (so far)

November 13th, 2008

This isn’t much, but at the rate I’m going I should be done, tentatively speaking, by the middle of the coming week.

Ross Haley
Research Paper
ArtH 470
Prof M Och

On the night of December 20, 1577, the second of two fires to strike the Venetian Palazzo Ducale in less than three years devastated both the Sala dello Scrutinio and the adjacent Sala Del Maggior Consiglio, causing the roofing of both chambers to collapse into a heap of ruin. The 1577 fire also occasioned the loss of an intriguing cycle of paintings that recounted the Republic’s various military and diplomatic triumphs. The scenes depicted in the historic and allegorical tableaux that adorned the side walls of the ducal library and the hall of the Great Council engendered the serene harmony and stability that had come to characterize Venetian politics and society. The artistic predilections of the Republic of Venice—La Serenissima—reflected the city’s unvarnished reputation for providing freedom, liberty, continuous stability and popular sovereignty to its citizenry. These novel attributes, which contrasted sharply with the endemic violence and sectarian strife known to most Italian city-states, earned Venice a famed and upstanding reputation. This extraordinary continuity of Venice’s democratic apparatus coupled with its reputation for unsullied liberty, piety and social concord to produce what scholars have come to call the “myth of Venice.” Yet, in spite of the immaculate image proffered by its elaborate artistic imagery and pageantry, Venice was, in fact, beset and greatly affected by the assailant winds of regional conflict, economic downturn and civil unrest. That Venice was able to uphold its glorious reputation amid the grim realities of sixteenth century Europe speaks remarkably well of its capacity to propagate an effective, albeit fictitious, image of confidence and prosperity. The secret to this extraordinary phenomena lies within the ruling administration’s uncanny ability to craftily mold and manipulate the conscious facts at hand to the effect of setting the Republic and its position vis-a-vie its violent neighbors in a favorable relief. To effect this outcome, Venice’s governing administration employed artistic imagery in the form of history and allegory painting to the ends of highlighting the Republic’s past glories and the persistent stability and effectiveness of its democratic institutions against the fiery backdrop of the chaos and insurgency that gripped Europe in the sixteenth century.
The economic trends and regional balance of power that prevailed throughout the sixteenth century did not augur well for Venice and its commercial prospects. At the time of the catastrophic blaze that consumed much of the Palazzo Ducale, Venice was in the midst of a political and economic crisis of devastating proportions.