Кат. 33. Фра Анджелико: Христос, коронованный терновым венцом
This exceptionally powerful devotional image of Christ crowned with thorns and bleeding from his wounds was first attributed to Fra Angelico by Roberto Longhi, who saw it in the eighteenth-century church of Santa Maria del Soccorso in Livorno, where it was attributed to the "School of Giotto."(*1) Nothing is known of the painting's earlier provenance prior to entering the Livornese church in 1837 as a gift of Silvestro Silvestri.(*2)
Кат. 33. Фра Анджелико. Христос, коронованный терновым венцом
55 х 39 см. (21 5/8 x 15 3/8 дюймов)
Приход Санта-Мария-дель-Соккорсо, Ливорно
(на хранении в Музее Цивико Джованни Фаттори, Ливорно)
Although Longhi's attribution has been unanimously accepted by scholars, both the dating and the unusual iconography of this work — considered one of Angelico's most intensely devout creations — have been the source of debate. Longhi, who dated it between 1430 and 1435, in close proximity to the Linaiuoli tabernacle, viewed it as Angelico's entirely original invention of a new prototype, in which the image of the suffering Christ crowned with thorns, derived from larger compositions, was adapted to the rectangular, portrait-like format of paintings of the Holy Face (Sancta Fades), which had been widely circulated in Europe, especially in the Northern countries, since the early fourteenth century.(*3) The unique character of the Livorno Christ was also emphasized by Liana Castelfranchi Vegas,(*4) who dated the panel to about 1438, and considered it the model for other nearly contemporary Netherlandish versions of the subject, such as the image on the reverse of Rogier van der Weyden's Portrait of a Woman in the National Gallery, London, and Petrus Christus's Head of Christ of about 1445, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Петрус Кристус (1444-1475). Голова Христа
Музей Метрополитен, Нью Йорк
While Baldini and Pope-Hennessy also proposed a date for the Livorno Christ in the mid- to late 1430s, Boskovits individuated its closest points of reference in the so-called Madonna delle Ombre fresco in San Marco, and in the Perugia polyptych, a work that he dated to about 1447-48.(*5) Based on the existence of an exact replica of the present picture, probably painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, in Assisi (Museo-Tesoro della Basilica di San Francesco), and of a second copy by a follower of Bonfigli, in Perugia (Pinacoteca Nazionale), Boskovits suggested that Angelico may have taken the painting with him during his Umbrian sojourn, or that he may actually have executed it in Perugia. An even later date for the Livorno Christ was proposed by De Marchi, who situated its execution in close proximity to that of the Bosco ai Frati altarpiece — about 1450 — and cited Netherlandish examples such as the portrait by van der Weyden in the National Gallery, London, as its possible source of inspiration rather than as an image derived from it.(*6) De Marchi's dating was accepted by Spike and Bonsanti, and it remains unquestioned in the most recent considerations of the painting.(*7)
As suggested by the above arguments, a point of departure for any discussion of the Livorno Christ is provided by its unusual iconography and its presumed relationship to Netherlandish models, beginning with the vividly realistic image of Christ as Rex Regum (King of Kings) formulated by Jan van Eyck. In this work, now known only through copies, the earliest of which, in Berlin (fig. 96), is dated 1438, van Eyck transformed the iconic, two-dimensional type of Holy Face paintings into a life-like portrait of Christ "as a living being," situated behind a trompe-l'oeil frame that further heightens the illusionistic quality of the image.(*8) Wearing a regal red robe inscribed with the words "REX REGVM," his face uniformly bathed in light, van Eyck's Christ became the most immediate, "true likeness" of the Redeemer in all his triumphant glory.
Рис 96. Копия с картины Яна ван Эйка. Голова Христа (Rex Regum)
Картинная Галерея, Государственные музеи Прусского Искусства, Берлин
Pointing to the intense naturalism of the Livorno Christ and to such iconographic similarities as the inscribed red robe, Paula Nuttall has postulated that Angelico must have known a version of the Eyckian painting, "which was perhaps conflated with a more emotive type," integrating the details of blood and thorns. Among the possible sources, according to Nuttall, may have been one of the paintings by van Eyck reputedly owned by Eugenius IV or, more specifically, the Netherlandish Head of Christ listed in the Medici inventory of 1492.(*9) Since none of these works survives or has been identified, Nuttall's suggestion must remain speculative. Moreover, the idea of a lost Netherlandish prototype fails to take into consideration the possibility that Angelico himself — as Longhi noted — may have been responsible for this new conception of the suffering Christ as Rex Regum, which represents, in effect, the earliest known example of a specific fusion between the Eyckian model and Veronica type of images, showing the head of Christ bleeding and crowned with thorns against the white sudarium.(*10)
Мастер Святой Вероники. Святая Вероника с Плащаницей
Старая Пинакотека, Мюнхен
Мастер Святой Вероники. Святая Вероника с Плащаницей. Фрагмент
That Angelico probably did have access to a version of the Eyckian Head of Christ is suggested both by the portrait-like quality of the image — emphasized by the intentional cutting off of the halo along the top edge — and by the elaborately decorated collar of Christ's red robe, which integrates the inscription found in the Berlin painting with the gemstone decoration seen in other examples. At the same time Angelico further developed the message of the Eyckian model, as Beate Fricke points out, by completing the inscription "REX REGVM" with the words "DOMINVS DOMINANTIVM" (Lord of Lords), in accordance with the text of the Apocalypse (19: I6).(*11)
The exceptional character of the Livorno painting is defined, however, by the way in which Angelico intensified the emotive content of Veronica images of the suffering Holy Face by depicting the redness of Christ's blood-filled eyes and mouth. The source for this detail, absent from any of the various Netherlandish versions of the subject, was traced by Scarpellini(*12) to the Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden (about 1304-1373), who recounted how the Virgin had vividly described her son's torments on the cross and said of the crown of thorns that, "It pricked so hard that both my son's eyes were filled with the blood that flowed down, and the ears were stopped up and His beard was thick with blood.(*13) One of the most popular texts of the Middle Ages, the Revelations may, in turn, have inspired the writings of the Dominican archbishop of Florence and friend of Angelico, Saint Antoninus (1389-1459), whose Opera a ben vivere was cited by Boskovits in relationship to the Livorno Christ.(*14) In this guide on how to lead a Christian life, written for a devout lady, Antoninus advises that "you should meditate a little every day on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ ... kneel down before a Crucifix and with the eyes of the mind, more than with those of the body, consider his face. Beginning first with the crown of thorns, pressed into his head, down to his skull; next the eyes, full of tears and of blood; the mouth, frothing and full of bile and of blood; the beard, similarly full of spit and of blood and of bile ... . And in reverence of all these things, you should recite the Lord's prayer with a Hail Mary."(*15)
Although the gruesome, graphic details of such descriptions are included in Angelico's depiction, they do not distort the idealized beauty of Christ's face and perfectly chiseled features, highlighted by the brilliant light illuminating the composition from the left. Lending the image a preciousness that overrides the distressing subject matter is the luminous quality of the painted surface and the meticulous handling of such details as the golden highlights enlivening the curly locks of Christ's hair and beard or the translucent glow of the gems set in the elaborate gilt border of his dress. These elements were placed by Nuttall in direct relationship to the Eyckian model and viewed in terms of Angelico's conscious decision to create a "Netherlandish" image. They are, however, consistent with other paintings produced by the artist in the late 1430s and early 1440s, such as the Perugia altarpiece, for which Kanter accepts the traditional dating of 1437 (see cat. 30), and the San Marco high altarpiece, generally situated between about 1438 and 1442. Both these works, executed at the same moment as Filippo Lippi's Netherlandish-inspired Tarquinia Madonna of 1437, were recently singled out by Keith Christiansen as reflecting, in their luminous intensity, Angelico's own, broader response to Netherlandish painting at this date.(*16) In fact, the same "reflective brilliance and luster" that are cited by Christiansen as marking the rendering of individual details in the Perugia and San Marco altarpieces may be considered the hallmarks of the Livorno Christ, which should be viewed as from the same period in Angelico's career. Beyond the analogies with these works, final confirmation for a dating of the Livorno Christ in the late 1430s or early 1440s may be found in the stringent, formal correspondences between it and the type of Christ depicted by Angelico on the walls of San Marco, as was first observed by Boskovits,(*17) or in the Lamentation from Santa Maria della Croce al Tempio (now in the Museo di San Marco), executed between 1436 and 1441.(*18)
Фра Анджелико. Фрагмент фрески Святой Доминик, преклоняющийся распятию
Монастырь Сан Марко, Флоренция
The original destination of the Livorno Christ, as well as its specific function, are unknown. Saint Antoninus's text, cited above, might suggest that the image was intended to fulfill the same function as a Crucifix, as an object for private meditation on the Passion of Christ. Placed on an altar, it could have served a purpose similar to that of more traditional Veronica paintings, whose role in the daily devotions of cloistered women, in particular, recently has been discussed by scholars.(*19) On the other hand, the confirmation of an early date for the painting's execution leads to a reconsideration of the compelling hypothesis, put forward nearly thirty years ago by Giulia Brunetti (but ignored in the subsequent literature), that this might be the "volto sancto" listed in an old inventory of the furnishings of the Altar of the Annunziata in the Servite church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence.(*20) Compiled between 1439 and 1441 — that is, before the altar underwent the radical transformations carried out by Michelozzo on behalf of Piero de' Medici — the inventory refers to "uno volto sancto dipinto sta in su it ditto altare bello e divoto" ("a holy face which is on the said altar, beautiful and pious"). According to Brunetti, despite the apparent discrepancy in subject matter, this reference could apply to the Livorno painting, which is identified in an inscription on the reverse as a "Holy Face of Jesus Christ."
Significantly, in the sixteenth century, the Altar of the Annunziata contained another painting of the Holy Face, by Andrea del Sarto, which was described by Vasari in the following terms: "Shortly after . . . Andrea del Sarto painted a Head of Christ, which is now preserved by the Servite monks on the altar of the Annunciation; and this is so beautiful, that for my part I do not know whether the human imagination could possibly conceive any more admirable representation of the head of the Redeemer."(*21) In the seventeeth century this image was inserted into an elaborate tabernacle commissioned by the Medici.(*22) According to nineteenth-century sources the new tabernacle had been built so that Andrea's painting would be movable, and could serve as a temporary replacement for the silver door with the monogram of Christ that was removed when the Host was not inside. On this basis, it has been suggested that Andrea's painting may, in fact, have been designed originally as a tabernacle door rather than as an independent devotional object;(*23) whether or not Fra Angelico's Christ Crowned with Thorns is, indeed, the painting mentioned in the 1439-41 inventory of the same altar, it is worth speculating whether it might have served a similar function.
That the Livorno Christ was produced for a patron of some note, or that it was on public display on the altar of as important a Florentine church as that of Santissima Annunziata, is perhaps confirmed by the existence of the copy in Assisi attributed to Benozzo Gozzoli.
Беноццо Гоззоли (1421 - 1497). Голова Христа
Сокровищница Базилики Святого Франциска. Ассиси, Италия.
Somewhat smaller in size and executed in ink and tempera on parchment, this work was probably commissioned as a less-expensive replica of the Livorno Christ, possibly the gift of a pilgrim specifically intended for the basilica of San Francesco. It may have been this image, in turn — rather than Angelico's — that served as a model for the two other Umbrian versions of the same subject painted by a follower of Bonfigli.(*24)
(*1). Longhi 1928a, pp. 153-59 (ill. in Longhi 1928a [1968 ed.], pp. 37-45).
(*2). L. Berti, in Florence 1955, p. 34, no. 19.
(*3). For a discussion of the evolution of this image, see G. Wolf, in Kessler and Wolf 1998, pp. 153-79.
(*4). Castelfranchi Vegas 1983, p. 70.
(*5). Baldini 1970, p. 96, no. 45 (dated 1435); Pope-Hennessy 1974, p. 227 (about 1436); Boskovits 1994, pp. 386-87 n. 25.
(*6). A. De Marchi, in Bellosi 1990a, pp. 104-5.
(*7). Spike 1996, p. 238, no. 83; Bonsanti 1998, pp. 154-55, no. 82; B. Fricke, in Morello and Wolf 2000, pp. 188-89; Nuttall 2004, p. 235.
(*8). See Ainsworth 1994, p. 86; and, most recently, Wolf 2000, pp. 111-12; K. Gludovatz, in Morello and Wolf 2000, pp. 187-88.
(*9). Nuttall 2004, p. 235. In support of Eugenius IV's taste for Netherlandish painting, Nuttall (ibid., p. 32) mentions a letter written from Rome by Cardinal Jean Jouffroy, Bishop of Arras, in 1468, in which the prelate refers to the genius of "John of Bruges, whose paintings you have seen in Pope Eugenius' palace." As noted by Nuttall, the Medici inventory (Spallanzani and Gaeta Bertela 1992, p. 72) refers to a painting in Giuliano's room: "uno colmetto picholo, cornicie messe d'oro, dipintovi una testa d'uno Cristo, opera fiandrescha" ("a small panel with a gilt frame in which is painted the head of Christ, Netherlandish work").
(*10). This version of the Veronica type, with the suffering Christ, appears to have made its first appearance about 1400 in the work of the Netherlandish painter known as the Master of the Veronica; see Wolf 2000, pp. 111-12. Citing the portrait in the National Gallery, London, Panofsky (1956, p. 112) credited the invention of this particular conflation of images to the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. The National Gallery panel, however, like the Petrus Christus painting in the Metropolitan Museum, shows Christ dressed in a gown, rather than the regal red robe. Angelico's image (not cited by Panofsky) appears to be the one most closely indebted to the Rex Regum portraits.
(*11). "And he hath on his garment, and on his thigh written: King of Kings, and Lord of Lords"; B. Fricke, in Morello and Wolf, 2000, p. 189.
(*12). P. Scarpellini, in Ciardi Dupre Dal Poggetto 1980, p. 56.
(*13). Revelations, Book VII, as cited in Butkovich 1969, p. 62.
(*14). Boskovits 1994, p. 386; see also L. Kanter and P. Palladino, in Morello and Kanter 1999, p. 110 (reprinted in Morello and Wolf 2000, pp. 189-90).
(*15). "Conforto anco la carita vostra che ogni di pigliate una poca di meditazione della passione del nostro Signore Gesu Cristo [...] inginocchiatevi dinanzi ad uno Crocifisso e cogli occhi della mente, piu che con quelli del corpo, considerate la facia sua. Prima, alla corona delle spine, fittegliele in testa, insino al celabro; poi gli occhi pieni di lacrime e di sanque; la bocca, plena di fiele e di bava e di sangue; la barba, similmente piena di bava e di sangue e di fiele [...] E a reverenzia di tutte queste cose direte un patemostro con avemaria" (Sant'Antonino, Opera a ben vivere ..., part III, chap. XI, p. 149 [as cited in Boskovits 1994, p. 138]).
(*16). K. Christiansen, in Ainsworth and Christiansen 1998, p. 49.
(*17). Boskovits 1994, p. 386.
(*18). For the correct interpretation of the date of this work, see Bonsanti 1998, pp. 141-42.
(*19). Hamburger 1998, pp. 229-46.
(*20). Brunetti 1977, pp. 228-35.
(*21). Vasari 1911 ed., vol. III, p. 261.
(*22). For this painting and the tabernacle, still in Santissima Annunziata, see C. Caneva, in Florence 1986, pp. 103-4, no. IX; D. Liscia Bemporad and E. Nardinocchi, in Casalini et al. 1987, pp. 302,331-34.
(*23). C. Caneva, in Florence 1986, pp. 103-4, no. IX.
(*24). For these images, attributed to a so-called Master of the Pieta di San Costanzo, see Todini 1989, vol. I, p. 165.
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