This topic is focused on an oddity in medieval wall painting decoration in South and Central Italy during the 11th and 12th century, the presence of circular lacunae in correspondence of Christ’s and the Virgin’s faces in several examples. Although often obliterated by modern restorations, traces of anchor mechanisms and ancient sources point out the insertion of panel painting in walls. This technical feature implies an intermission in the flow of the narrative program and leads us to consider these lost images provided with a different status in the context of decoration.
Between 1300 and c.1500, Italian painters represented the halo in strikingly diverse ways: from gilded plates to glass disks, delicate hoops of gold, to explosions of corporeal light. This paper demonstrates that rather than simply being exhibitions of painterly élan, this variety in ‘materialities’ reflects critical developments in the art and society of the period, such as claims of painting as ‘truth’ (properità), Venetian expansionism, the interaction between east and west, and exegetical stagnation. In particular, the paper proposes new considerations on the interactions between patron and painter, the movements of artists and artistic themes throughout Italy and across the Alps, and menial workshop practice and economies of production.
Polyptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ is a mid-14th-century portable altarpiece from Barcelona. Evocative of north Italian panel painting, the altarpiece prompts an assessment of artistic exchanges and trade between the Crown of Aragon and the Italian city-states of the Trecento. My paper will use the polyptych as a springboard to explore the exchange of visual ideas across the Western Mediterranean, the role of art as an agent of cultural mobility, female patronage, and the migration of artists in disseminating visual culture across regional boundaries. The result is a focused but wide-ranging discussion of 14th-century Mediterranean mobility.