The sculptured altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, ca. 1460-1530
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This thesis comprises a study of the Venetian sculptured altarpieces during the period 1460 - 1530. During the course of research a surprisingly large number of examples were identified, many of which have so far received little attention. As well as providing an analysis of individual works, the thesis has the wider aim of examining the sculptured altarpiece as a genre, and hence also of contributing towards a greater understanding of the role of sculpture in Italian Renaissance art and society. The main objectives of study are a) a survey of the chronological and formal development of the altarpieces, b) an investigation of their material and the application of polychromy and gilding, as well as of their manufacture and cost, and c) an analysis of the patrons and their interest in sculpture. The thesis, which draws on various archival sources, further includes an appendix of documents, which illustrates in detail the making of a sculptured altar. A catalogue provides a corpus of the major sculptured altarpieces of the period between 1460 and 1530 which can still be identified. The discussion of the objects accompanied by an extensive photographic documentation. Several altars have been reconstructed through careful reading of the documents. Others, which have not hitherto been published, are reproduced and discussed here for the first time. Rather than providing attributions of individual works on the basis of style, the emphasis lies on the cultural-historical analysis of a genre, and on the assessment of the aesthetic and financial value of sculptured altarpieces and the appreciation of sculpture in Venice in general. Complementing previous studies of Venetian painted altarpieces, the results of research presented here aim to contribute to a fuller composite picture of the art market around 1500, and of the whole artistic environment in Venice of the period.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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