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Narrative Fresco and Ritual: Filippo Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Performative Properties of the Religious Art in Quattrocento Florence

CHRZANOWSKA, AGATA,ANNA (2016) Narrative Fresco and Ritual: Filippo Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Performative Properties of the Religious Art in Quattrocento Florence. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The present study analyses Filippo Lippi’s frescoes in the main chapel of the Prato cathedral and Domenico Ghirlandaio’s decoration of the Tornabuoni chapel in Santa Maria Novella in Florence. It focuses on the relationship between the frescoes and the ritual practices of the period, in particular, the religious spectacle. The aim of the research is to analyse the little-known and somewhat elusive relations between the two chapel decorations and other public expressions of devotional culture, such as the religious spectacles performed in the city during religious festivities.
Chapter 1 provides a necessary theoretical and historiographical background to the work, while chapter 2 examines the performative production of Florence. It locates the tradition of religious plays within the context of the fifteenth-century devotion and analyses a sample of texts of sacre rappresentazioni. Chapter 3 provides archival evidence of the involvement of Florentine artists, including the two at the centre of this research, with the social and cultural world of the lay confraternities. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the two fresco decorations. The iconographic analysis allows us to recognize the hagiographic and philosophical sources of the paintings. The study shows the influence of Renaissance culture on the sacred iconography, and the introduction of new themes to the sacred narratives, such as Ficino’s idea of prisca theologia. Finally, the study discusses the relationship between the frescoes and the drama and asks questions about the relationship between the decorations and the ritual.
The argument of the thesis is that the visual elements coming from the religious spectacles penetrated to the Florentine narrative paintings thanks to the personal exchange between both environments. Moreover, the study suggests that these inserts were meaningful and allowed the frescoes to become part of the ritual of intercession. Finally, the research shows in which ways the ruling elite participated to the cultural life of the city and used its visual aspects in order to promote their values and to obtain political consent.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Filippo Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, narrative fresco cycles, religious spectacle, Quattrocento art, Florentine ritual, Neoplatonism, Medicean pagronage, Medici family, confraternal art, Florentine Renaissance
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Nov 2016 15:05

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