Over the course of the fifteenth century, history writing in Venice took a course rather different from that in other northern Italian communicates. One of its most striking characteristic was the strong persistence of a chronicle tradition that was coupled with a resistance to the new modes of humanist historiography that began to flourish elsewhere. The emergence of the humanist history in Florence around the beginning of the Quattrocento would provide the model of for every city of consequence by the middle of the century.
Although these two forms continued to coexist to some degree in most of the major cultural centres, including Florence, only in Venice did the chronicle remain the dominant form of history writing until the last decades of the Quattrocentoo, and only there it did remain a standard part of the domestic inventory of a significant number of upper-class families. PAG23. PAT PAINTING AND HISTORY Life appears to flow on normally, regardless of the presence of the supernatural on the streets and squares in Venice. Miracle paintings of the late fifteenth century whose visual qualities prompted this excursion into the development of Venetian narratives tastes and examine them more closely in light of their affinity to the chronicle tradition.
PAG 26 PAT PAINTING AND HISTORYThe essay will largely analyse Venetians scuole, in particular The Confraternity of the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista and its main figure of the time: Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio. The paintings under review in this essay are Gentile Bellini ‘Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo’ and ‘The Heling Madman’ by Vittore Carpaccio. Furthermore, it will also consider Patricia Fortini Brown works, in particular ‘Venetian Narrative Painting in the age of Carpaccio (1994).
These will help the research in its aim, which is to underline the importance or spiritual life in the Venetians paintings of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. The independent tradition of painting of the large-scale narrative paintings, started to emerge during the fifteenth century, whose works were mainly commissioned as decorations for the Scuole, those charitable clubs of laymen which were the main focus of social life for citizens beneath the patrician class. PAG63 STEER As in other Italian cities of the later middle ages, Venetians confraternities were initially formed by men and women for purposes of mutual aid and devotion outside the institutional church.
Typically, the groups adopted a patron saint, participated in collective prayer, visited the sick, accompanied the dead to the grave and shared in commemorative masses. PAG 15 PAT CARPACCIOThe painted histories that began to line the walls of Venetian scuole in the late Quattrocento were commissioned and produced according to a set of unspoken assumptions about just what an istoria was meant to be, or rather, perhaps, what it was meant to be. The term istoria was applied loosely and broadly during that period to donate not only written accounts and visual representations of historical events proper, but also a wide range of scenes from the Bible and apocryphal sources, legends, and even literary romances. PAG79 PAT CARPACCIOThis is the case of one of the most one of the most famous Venetian scuole was The Confraternity of the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice. According to accounts published by the Scuola, earlier in the year of 1414, the young daughter of one of their members, Ser Nicolo Benvegnudo of San Paolo, had been miraculously healed from crippling affliction. The healing was attributed to the Santissima Croce, a prestigious relic of the True Cross that had been donated to the confraternity in 1369 by Philippe de Mezieres, Grand Chanchellor of Cyprus.
Since the relic had already demonstrated its powers on other occasions, the brothers decided to commemorate these events with paintings. They called upon the most respected Venetian painters of the period, including Pietro Perugino, Vittore Carpaccio, Gentile Bellini, Giovanni Mansueti, Lazzaro Bastiani and Benedetto Diana to paint nine canvases for the Great Hall of their headquarters showing the Miracles of the Holy Cross, which was supposed primarly to commemorate a supernatural event rather than a civic ceremony. PAG 45 PAT CARPACCIO The paintings in the sequence of depictions of the miracle of the cross are the most Venetian of all things Venetian. If nothing other than these paintings had survived of that city lagoon, we would still be able to construct a vivid picture of the self-contained world of Venice, of a city that is without equal, we would even know something of its life, not only of aspects of its architectural appearance. PAG133 OTTOThe task of the artists who were commissioned to paint miracles of the True Cross was a peculiar one.
Two basic particularities come to mind. First, these were events that lacked, for the most part, a heroic protagonist. While paintings of miracles are typically intended to honour a holy figure, the Madonna or a saint, through whom divine power is expressed, here the vehicle was simply a cross: a sign of Christ’s power, to be sure, but an inanimate object. The second particularity is a question of selection. A miracle involved a process transformation: from sick to healed, from imperilled to rescue, from possessed to exorcised. Its full representation required sequentiality.
But just as the painter of the True Cross cycle ignored the chronological order of the miracles from painting to painting in the cycle as a whole, so too they rejected the strategy of simultaneous narrative, with two or more episodes included within the picture space of each individual scene, which would have provided temporal flow. PAG 142 PAT CARPACCIO