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Durham e-Theses
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Per Visibilia ad Invisibilia: Nature's Revelation in Cosmè Tura's Sacred Art

WARDLE, CLAUDIA,LAUREN (2016) Per Visibilia ad Invisibilia: Nature's Revelation in Cosmè Tura's Sacred Art. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores aspects of the nature in selected artworks of Cosmè Tura (c. 1430 – 1495) - a core artist of the School of Ferrara and court painter to the ruling Este family -, interpreting these aspects against the backdrop of cultural continuities from the Middle Ages. Rather than concentrating on human protagonists, I assess three different aspects of the natural world. I look firstly at painted decoration representing nature in his Virgin and Child Enthroned, and its role in the panel’s message of covenantal fulfilment. This assessment is carried out against the background of theological continuities, especially patristic, found in texts studied and translated contemporaneously in Ferrara and in the monastery for which the panel was painted. I then explore flora and fauna in selected sacred paintings, according to the cultural continuity of the medieval bestiary tradition. Finally, I examine landscape - and especially rock formations - in scenes inspired by scripture and hagiography, considering the potential influences from Byzantine art. In this way, this thesis challenges conceptions about ‘Renaissance’ art propagated by Giorgio Vasari and which continue to be prevalent in scholarship. The approach to painting from this period, beginning in the Quattrocento, is usually focussed on notions of harmony and verisimilitude and on the idea of a ‘rebirth’ of pagan classical culture. The focus additionally tends to lie on the human protagonists of art works. Fifteenth-century Ferrarese art, which is considered not calm and harmonious but ‘unusual’ and even ‘demonic’ (Ruhmer 1958: 6), has therefore been somewhat neglected, compared with the schools of Florence or Rome, for instance. Thus, to shed new light on this artistic centre, I analyse Tura’s sacred artworks, shifting the focus away from the concept of rebirth and instead examining these selected paintings of his œvre according to medieval continuities, cultural, philosophical, and religious.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Ferrara, Renaissance, Italy, Painting, Tura, Religion,
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:16 Dec 2016 15:53

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