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Catherine Monbeig Goguel, Philippe Costamagna, and Michel Hochmann, eds. Francesco Salviati et la bella maniera: Acres des colloques de Rome et de Paris (1998).

Rome: Ecole Francaise de Rome, 2001. viii + 740 pp. index, illus, bibl. 76 [euro]. ISBN: 2-7283-0627-3.

This volume's "postface" declares, "It is paradoxical that we should know and understand so little about an artist as famous and well-connected as Francesco Salviati" (691). Such has been the case in past years despite the attention given him by an equally renowned contemporary, Giorgio Vasari. The miscellany examined here, however, provides a rich set of resources that make possible a much deeper knowledge of Salviati (born Francesco de' Rossi) and his milieu. It contains articles of an often fascinating character, based on papers given in 1998 at two conferences associated with a bipartite exposition held in Rome and Paris.

The book's contents are arranged in four groups. The first part (13-213) aspires to bring to light heretofore neglected aspects of the artist's creation. A piece by the anthology's chief editor raises, among other complex issues, those of Salviati's contribution to the tradition of erotic imagery, his sojourns in Milan, and the correct attribution of his anatomical studies. Similarly, a second article furnishes an assortment of what are referred to as "Additions and Reflections" (69) on particular works, while still other essays explore the significance of certain passages penned by Vasari, Ludovico Domenichi, and Anton Francesco Doni and the use of antique statuary on the part of those in de' Rossi's circle. A fifth contribution makes the claim that in the Rome of Pope Clement VII not even the realization of altarpieces and devotional representations was exempt from the influence of pornography. Still other pieces comment on the artist's lifelong interest in theatrical imagery and on the presence of "Italiens et Espagnols dans l'atelier de Salviati" (195). The anthology's second part (215-310) deals with matters of patronage. Cardinal Giovanni Salviati is the focus of one essay in which his relationship to de' Rossi is shown to exemplify the prelate's reliance on those he sponsored. Another article evinces the author's keen detective work in determining that the tomb of Sigismondo in Santa Maria del Popolo's Chigi Chapel was originally designed for Agostino's wife, Francesca, while a third exposition examines our subject's depiction of Pope Paul III as peacemaker.

The third part of this volume (311-495) concentrates on relationships Salviati maintained with other artists of his day. Opening the division is a convincing argument in favor of the Florentine's having crossed paths with the Portuguese virtuoso Francisco de Holanda, which is followed by a demonstration of the influence exerted on de' Rossi by the art of Giulio Romano. A third piece adduces evidence that "la lezione di Polidoro [da Caravaggio] impresse tracce profonde sul repertorio figurativo del nostro artista" (393), while a fourth makes patent Salviati's participation in what its author terms the "officina farnesiana" of mid-sixteenth-century Rome. We find here as well a set of observations on various works attributed, or attributable, to him, accompanied by remarks downplaying any close connection to Pellegrino Tibaldi. Significant differences between Venetian and Roman approaches to drawing are highlighted in the sixth component of this section, a chapter rounded out by an article that hypothesizes collaboration between our Italian figure and the Flemish tapestry designer known as Giovanni Stradano. The collection's fourth part (497-689), entitled "Circulation des formes," treats at the outset engravings by the Bolognese artist Girolamo Fagiuoli, some based on designs by Salviati, then proceeds to offer a group of comments stimulated by the head studies presented at the 1998 exposition. The next two pieces deal with Prospero Fontana, one discussing affinities to fellow artists and the other proving his debt to Vasari. A fifth contribution sheds light on the activities of another man associated with the Cinquecento art historian: the draughtsman Orazio Porta. Concluding the text we find a study that affirms possible contacts among Salviati, Giuseppe Porta, and Lambert Sustris--"le premier Neerlandais a peindre presque entierement comme un Italien" (645)--and an analysis seeking to enlarge the corpus that can be ascribed to the Master of the Egmont Albums.

The eminent scholars whose commentaries compose this volume have made a most significant contribution to research on Francesco Salviati. Of importance equal to that of the information here provided, however, is the example these experts have set as they searched diligently for the truth. To borrow the sage words of one author, "probably the most appropriate thing to be said for now is to repeat the motto on [a print discussed earlier] ...: ANCHORA INPARO. There is a great deal more to be learned" (518).


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Author:Ward, Michael T.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2003
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