Studi di Storia dell'Arte 27

21x29,7 bross, pp. 314;  ill. b/n e col, 2016 - ISSN 1123-5683 - € 60,00
COMITATO SCIENTIFICO
Liliana Barroero, Giovanna Capitelli, Stefano Casciu, Stefano Causa, Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo, Cristina De Benedictis,  Cristina Galassi, Gert Kreytenberg, Francesco Federico Mancini, Enrica Neri Lusanna, Steffi Roettgen,
Pietro Ruschi, Erich Schleier, Nicolas Schwed, Angelo Tartuferi, Anchise Tempestini.
Marcello Castrichini direttore responsabile
Mirko Santanicchia
San Bevignate di Perugia. Storia e iconografia.
Lo Statuto degli Ortolani alla Biblioteca Vaticana e gli anni di Gian Galeazzo Visconti

San Bevignate of Perugia. History and iconography.

The Statute of the Ortholen at the Vatican Library and the years of Gian Galeazzo Visconti



The church of San Bevignate in Perugia, the construction of which dates back to 1256, is recognized as having been the seat of the Knights Templar, as also evidenced by some rather well known frescoes (1270 ca.) that recount the feats of the Order. However, the figure of St. Bevignate, to whom the church, which once housed his body, is dedicated, is highly controversial. Either a simple hermit or, as some would have it, a member of the Order of the Templars, he is believed to have lived in the first half of the thirteenth century. What is certain is that he was chosen as the people's “saint” by the Commune and the Bishop of Perugia in the second half of the thirteenth century, and the attempt was made to have him canonized, with the active involvement of the Templars. This canonization only took place in 1453, and in secular form, as the Commune of Perugia chose to carry out a form of lay canonisation.
This paper aims to clarify the biographical and hagiographic features of the life of the saint, at least in the form that would have been recounted in the (lost) Legenda, which was most probably prepared by the Commune to promote his canonization. The study of the iconography, which contains new and unpublished images, and a reinterpretation of noted and unpublished sources, in particular from the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, confirms the good fortune of the cult, in particular in relation to certain events in the political life of the city, when the popular faction prevailed over their noble rivals, such as in the years of the late fourteenth century, culminating in the dominion of Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1400-1402).


Gert Kreytenberg
La tomba dell’imperatore Arrigo VII a Pisa. Una revisione

The tomb of Emperor Arrigo VII in Pisa. A revision


Between 1313 – 1315 Tino di Camaino erected the sepulchre of the emperor Henry VII in the apsis of the Pisan Cathedra. In 1494, due to tremor problems, the high monument was pulled down and reconstructed in a very reduced form in the transept. Then it was moved to the Campo Santo where it remained untouched until 1921, when it returned to the Cathedral. On this occasion Gaetano Castrucci made the twelfth apostle (the eighth one from the left) and drilled holes in the halves of the pendentives – till that time these were smooth – of the two external plates, each one representing four figures (fig. 1). The condition created in 1494 is shown in the figures 2 and 2a: eleven apostles have been spread over three plates allocated two at a time, exept the figure of saint Bartholomew seen head-on (excluding a fourth figure in this plate). These observations led my reconstruction of the tomb in 1984, assuming that, originally, such a type of sarcophagus did not exist. In the tomb of the bishop Guido Tarlati in Arezzo (fig. 4) I observe a clear echo of the Pisan emperor’s tomb. The basement of the grand arcade supported by four pedestals gives space to the sarcophagus and on the front side there has been placed the “camera mortuaria” of the deceased with his back in an almost vertical position. The figure of the emperor (fig. 3) is elaborated carefully in all details, designed to be seen from the front. The apostles are distributed on the left and the right side of this “camera” and on the two small sides of the basement. One plate representing three figures is lost. The cycle must have contained 14 figures (apostles and evangelists). In the arcade the emperor was enthroned between six dignitaries. Since 1984, two discoveries have increased our beliefs of the tomb: Novello and Calderoni Masetti had defined the affiliation to the monument of two angels wearing written bands (till 1999 collocated above the façade of the Pisan Cathedral) (figs. 6-7). Nenci has presented the painted wall decoration (fig. 8) in the base of the cathedral choir. The reconstructions proposed since 1984 by Tripps (1996), Nenci/Brogi/Novello (2004), Herzner (2005), Dombrowski (2007) and Baldelli (2007) did not consider the aspects I have identified. All authors (figs. 9a-e) remained certain about the existence of a sarcophagus in the tomb of the emperor. Considering all aspects I reached to a revised reconstruction edition regarding the lower part (fig. 10).
An appendix is introducing the bust of Christ by Tino di Camaino (figs. 11-14) recently come up on the art market. In my opinion Tino di Camaino has developed the bust for the group of statues designated to the north portal of the Florentine Baptistery, precisely to the tympanum of the tabernacle harboring the figure of John the Baptist.

Joseph Polzer
Concerning the Origin of the Meditations on the Life of Christ and its early influence on art

The Meditations on the Life of Christ, surely the most popular devotional treatise written during the later Middle Ages, originally served as a spiritual guide designed for Clares who resided in S. Gimignano. It instructed them how they ought to intimately recreate and virtually participate in the events of Christ’s entire life and passion, including the Virgin’s emotional involvement. The author advocated that considering the brevity of the Gospel accounts the Clares should feel free to draw on their imagination in order to recreate them as they might have occurred. Originally attributed to Saint Bonaventure and after to a Franciscan named Johannes da Caulibus who resided in S. Gimignano, a vast number of different versions of the treatise written in Latin, Italian and many other European languages have survived. Certain recent scholarship investigating the long Latin and Italian versions of the treatise that cover the entire life of Christ from his conception to the passion and resurrection have placed its origin into the early and middle part of the trecento. This dating differs decisively from that assumed by historians of art who believe that the treatise originated earlier in the dugento. Their belief includes the assumption that the Meditations influenced no less than Giotto’s Arena Chapel murals, painted during the first years of the trecento, as well as other early trecento works of art including the passion murals in the Clarissan choir of the church of Santa Maria Donna Regina in Naples, that surely predated the death of Queen Mary of Hungary, the patroness of the church, in 1323. Here I add other examples including the Figline Master’s remarkable Lamentation panel in the Fogg Museum at Harvard.

Angelo Tartuferi
Per il Maestro di Mezzana e alcuni appunti sulla pittura del Trecento a Prato

For the Master of Mezzana and some notes on painting of the Threeteenth Century in Prato


The essay begins by examining some aspects of the artistic situation in Prato since the last glimpse of the thirteenth century, where emerges the personality of the painter Bettino of Corsino, recognized in the past with the anonymous artist largely active in that city, identified for the first time by Richard Offner and named by him Master of Mezzana.
However, according new research and philological clarifications it is possible to recognize more plausibly the existence of two distinct personalities, operating in different chronological contexts. The more ancient is that of Bettino da Prato, author of a fresco actually in the entrance of the Palazzo Pretorio in Prato, with the Madonna and Child Enthroned and the Saints John the Evangelist and Stephen, for which we know the documents of payment of the end of March 1307. The other personality is, precisely, that of Mezzana Master identified by Offner, whose activity is reconstructed in this essay, with the addition of a hitherto unpublished painting with Saint Lucy, identified as a lateral panel of a dispersed triptych or polyptych, of which the central panel is here recognized with a Madonna and Child in a private collection. The attribution to the Master of Mezzana, here proposed for the first time, of the surviving fragment of a large fresco in the high parts of the great hall on the first floor of the Palazzo Pretorio, probably representing Saint Lawrence, suggests a possible, even probable, identification with the "Francischo pictori de Florentia". This artist frescoed in that place in the summer of 1336 a great Maestà with various saints, together with the King Robert of Anjou. If this hypothesis will be confirmed, it would be easier to understand the deep knowledge of the developments of Florentine painting shown by the Master of Mezzana in the course of his long career.
The paper also provides some new attributions about fourteenth-century works preserved in Prato and proposes to assign to the earliest phase of the pistoiese painter Giovanni di Bartolomeo Cristiani an elegant frescoed tabernacle discovered in recent years.


Fabio Marcelli
Sul ritratto di domenicano di Giovanni Bellini (NG808)

On the portrait of Dominican by Giovanni Bellini (NG808)


This essay studies the portrait of the Dominican friar by Giovanni Bellini (The National Gallery, NG 808), transformed into Saint Peter Martyr in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. It is proposed to identify the friar portrayed by Bellini, in an important theologian of San Zanipolo in Venice: Giovacchino della Torre, general of the Dominicans (1487-1500). Fra Giovacchino he has served on the jury that tried, and sentenced to death Girolamo Savonarola (1498).

Antonio Geremicca
“Sarebbe riuscita insieme un’opera molto onorata”. Per Perino del Vaga a Pisa

Sarebbe riuscita insieme un’opera molto onorata”. For Perino del Vaga in Pisa



There are still many questions concerning Perino del Vaga’s career in the early 1530s, especially in regard of his crucial decision to leave Genoa for a new destination. Before going back to Rome and becoming the Farnese court's main painter (1537-1538), Perino evaluated the opportunity to live in Tuscany, where he also bought a house (1534).
The aim of this article is to rebuild the activity of the artist in Pisa that apparently has been more intense than previously thought by studies. Perino stayed in the city at least in three different occasions, between 1531 and 1537, to participate at the new decoration of the Cathedral, that unfortunately was left incomplete and almost nothing remained nowadays. In addition to this, Vasari wrote a contradictory description of it in the Lives (1568). The article will focus on Perino’s graphic production during that period that might suggest how he was preparing his projects for the Cathedral.

Louise Arizzoli
Marietta Robusti in Jacopo Tintoretto’s Workshop. Her Likeness and her Role as a Model for her Father

Marietta Robusti was the first daughter of the famous Venetian painter of the Renaissance, Jacopo Tintoretto. She was certainly a recognized artist during her own time, and her portraits were appreciated not only in Venice but also throughout Europe. Her work, however, never received extensive attention in modern times because she spent all of her short life in the workshop of her father, as one of his main assistants. While attributions remain problematic, this paper aims to rediscover her likeness within the paintings of her father Jacopo and of her brother Domenico. The individualized features of her face can in fact be recognized in a group of paintings, dating from the late 1570s and the mid-1580s. It is thus possible to think that she played a role that was diverse and more complex than has usually been believed. She not only was Tintoretto’s talented assistant, but she also was, most likely, a source of inspiration for her brother and her father, for whom she posed as a model.

Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo
Domenikos Theotokopoulos a Creta

Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete


This essay focuses on the first period of El Greco’s career , when - whilst still in Crete - he began to depart from the Byzantine painting tradition and explore newer movements in figurative culture which were arriving from Italy and other European areas. This occurred as a result of two different, contributing factors: firstly, his familiarity with prints and in particular, Italian engravings, and secondly, his first-hand experience of original Venetian paintings, which at the time were still in existence on Crete, only to be later lost following the Ottoman invasion of the island in the 17th century. From the information we have thus far ascertained since the start of the 20th century, it is now possible to imagine how this first phase of his career unfolded. The real problem lies in distinguishing between his works produced whilst still in Crete, and those painted in Venice, where it is certain he stayed between 1567 and 1570.

Panayotis K. Ioannou
El Greco tra i “Madonneri”: la critica, le ideologie, il mercato. Nuove luci sul recupero del Trittico di Modena (1937) e su alcune sue conseguenze, passate e recenti

El Greco among the "Madonners": criticism, ideologies, market. New lights on the recovery of the Triptych of Modena (1937) and some of its consequences, past and recent


El Greco and the “Madonneri”. Art Criticism, Ideologies, the Art Market. Some New Light on the Discovery of the Modena Triptych (1937)
The discovery of the Modena Triptych of Dominikos Theotocopoulos in 1937 by the young Rodolfo Pallucchini was of the greatest importance: enabled the detection of tangible elements, demonstrative of the artistic development of the painter in both stylistic and iconographic terms for the first time. A few years later, particularly after the Second World War, an effort was made to link the first period of El Greco in Italy to the production of anonymous painters, who had been granted the name “Madonneri” in the early decades of the 20th century. (The so called Madonneri combined in their work an apparent attempt to a superficial imitation of Byzantine art with equally awkward use of Venetian art sources).
The ambiguity regarding the context within which the term “Madonneri” was used, the growing interest for the work of the Cretan in which some scholars continued to discern powerful Byzantine undertones and the involvement of the art market, allowed El Greco implicitly – though more often explicitly – to become categorized by some scholars as a “madonnero”. In the decades of 50s and 60s, numerous works were attributed to “El Greco madonnero”, almost always in conjunction with the compositions of the Modena Triptych. The extremely low quality of many of them was considered, or rather was justified, as the laborious and awkward attempt of a Byzantine art-nurtured artist to master Venetian painting.
By presenting new and relevant archival evidence which sheds more light also on the discovery of the Modena Triptych, the present article examines: the history and content of the term “madonnero” and the ideological battle fought over the scope covered by the specific term; the way in which works by the “madonneri” became associated with the work of El Greco; and, how the “Greco madonnero issue” has to some extent haunted studies relating to the Italian and particularly the Venetian period of his oeuvre.

Arianna De Simone
Domenichino e la musica

Domenichino and music


According with Giovan Pietro Bellori, Domenichino was especially interested in the musical theories of the time and showed great musical competency. His works speak for themselves: Domenichino depicted with considerable precision contemporaries musical instruments, instrumental complexes consistent with practice of the time, scores that attest his knowledge of musical notation. The painter bonded fruitful relations with musicians and composers.
Moving from ancient sources and continuing footsteps of Benvenuto Disertori, Richard Spear, Patrizio Barbieri and Renato Meucci, this essays proposes to place Domenichino in his musical time, crossing organically and in a unified manner his creative course, and highlighting his interests’ versatility: on one side aimed to harmony mathematical study, that is purely theoretical, on the other side focused on performance practice instead. Plurality of interests animated by a deeply modern attitude towards music of his time. Musical ‘clues’ in some paintings, witnesses of his adherence to the most innovative musical instances: the “seconda prattica”, instrumental music’s gradual claim of autonomy, enharmonic experiments. It will emerge a renewed figure of the painter: a classicist Domenichino, but also a great “modernist”.

Cecilia Vicentini
Giuseppe Caletti da Cremona: “un pittore moderno in una bottega antiquaria”

Giuseppe Caletti from Cremona: " un pittore moderno in una bottega antiquaria”



The considerable scholarly attention received in recent years by the 17th century Ferrarese school has helped define more and more accurately the outline and the main protagonists of this artistic context. To painters of the likes of Carlo Bononi, Costanzo Catanio, Giovanni Vambaigens, Giuseppe Avanzi – whose work has been recently reassessed – one can now add Giuseppe Caletti: to him this paper is devoted. New attributions to Caletti (also dubbed “il Cremonese” by local sources for his likely Lombardic origins) are here proposed, with specific regard to three unpublished works from private collections, which the paper then seeks to set in their correct place in the painter’s production and in his still rather obscure biography. On the basis of newly discovered documents, in fact, new light is shed on Caletti’s frequent movements in Northern Italy (between Cremona, Bologna, Ferrara, Brescia and probably Venice as well) and on his contacts with the pictorial models which one can trace in his oeuvre (e.g. Lionello Spada, Guercino and Romanino).







 

 


Erich Schleier
Aggiunte a Daniele Seiter

In the present article three paintings are attributed to Daniele Seiter, a painter born in Vienna in 1647, but educated in Venice from 1667 to 1687 under Johann Karl Loth, then working in Rome until 1688 and later in Turin. Two of these pictures were previously attributed to Sebastiano Ricci. First a hitherto unpublished, large painting depicting “Bacchus and Ariadne” (private collection,previously attributed to Ricci)) datable in Seiter’s Turin period. It is here compared with an also unpublished small painting of the same subject by Giacinto Brandi, who in 1687-88 contributed a ceiling painting, along with other paintings by Seiter, for the Stanza delle Cameriste in the Palazzo Reale in Turin. Brandi’s painting is datable in the 165o’s. The second painting is a large canvas depicting a “reclining, sleeping Venus with a Satyr” (Paris, Galerie Mendes). It was published in 2009 wrongly as by Paolo Pagani and in 2013 as by Sebastiano Ricci. The third painting depicts “Ceres with a winged amor” (sold Munich, Hampel, 16.6.2010, as anonymous 18th c.), a variant of a known picture by Seiter in Budapest. Finally the two autograph versions of a “Saint John the Baptist with a lamb in a landscape” are compared: one in the Galleria Palatina in Florence, commissioned by Grand Duke Cosimo III, but painted in Rome, and the other in the Casita del Principe of El Escorial in Spain.



Tania De Nile
Ascanius e compagni a Roma. La rappresentazione dei Bentvueghels nelle opere di Domenicus van Wijnen e nuove notizie su Francis van Bossuit e Bonaventura van Overbeek
Ascanius and his companions in Rome. The representaion of the
Bentvueghels in the works of Domenicus van Wijnen and new news of Francis nan Bossuit and Bonaventura van Overbeek


The analysis of Domenicus van Wijnen’s paintings representing the initiation rituals of the “Bentvueghels” – known through three prints by Matthijs Pool – represents the starting point for a close examination of all written and figurative sources related to the group of Netherlandish “Schildersbent” in Rome. Through the study of selected passages from the artist’s biographers, the article sheds light on aspects and protagonists of the “Bent” still little-investigated. In particular, it shows the relationship which binds Domenicus to the sculptor Francis van Bossuit, and both of them to Bonaventura van Overbeek, for whom Van Wijnen made his “Bentvueghels” paintings. Bonaventura’s role as a collector and agent engaged in the reintegration of artists in Amsterdam, after their stay in Rome, clearly emerges from the biographical sources; and – what is most significant – also the close bond of friendship with the famous painter Gerard de Lairesse.


Cristina De Benedictis
Tra "progetto e sogno". A Dresda il museo di Francesco Algarotti
Between "project and dream". In Dresden, the museum of Francesco Algarotti

This essay reconstructs the architectural project presented by the Venetian Francesco Algarotti in 1742 to the King of Poland Frederick Augustus III for his court in Dresden. Before founding the museum, Algarotti planned a thoughtful purchase campaign of works of art in order to fill the gaps in the royal collections. In is mind, the museum created in this way would count on three different structures:a specialized library, an academy for education and picture and sculpture galleries. Unfortunately Algarotti’s project, even if he worked as art dealer for the king, never came true.The author traces the sources of Algarotti, from Maffei to Lodoli, as well as his taste for classical and Palladian architecture through his purchases of paintings by artist such as Tiepolo, Canaletto and Pannini. Other sources for the reconstruction of Algarotti’s museum are in his writings on architecture and particularly, in a 1759 letter to the painter Prospero Pesci, where he returned on the failed project for Dresden court. Crossing these data, she outline the architectural design of the museum, in which Algarotti envisioned a close alternation of rotundas and galleries, with zenithal and lateral lightning and classical pronaoi for monumental entrances. This model anticipates the development of museum architecture in the Nineteenth century.

Donatella Biagi Maino
La tecnica del pastello nell'arte di Gaetano Gandolfi
The pastel technique in the art of Gaetano Gandolfi


Four allegorical figures of Poetry, Sculpture, Painting and Music are disclosed, performed in pastel by the Bolognese painter Gaetano Gandolfi, one of the protagonists of Italian artistic culture in the eighteenth century, not usually be proved in this technique. The excellent results achieved in these works attest of his experimentation in every field of contemporary painting techniques, he experienced from his youth, through his studies conducted both at home and for a long time in Venice, sponsored by a patron and learned collector, Antonio Buratti, and suggested by Francesco Algarotti. This attention to every field of research was one of the characters of Gandolfi's career, conducted at the Institute of Sciences of Bologna, having ease to study the precious collections of the Bolognese scholars print collections. And to the album of engravings with expression studies, from the drawings of the Carracci to Le Brun to the eighteenth-century examples, the graphic layout of studies from the natural setting refers: the realization of the representation of reality through the academic artifice.


Maria Vittoria Thau
Note ai restauri novecenteschi della chiesa dei SS. Apostoli a Firenze

Notes to the twentieth-century restorations of the SS. Apostles in Florence

The Florentine church of SS. Apostoli, though studied in its stylistic traits, it has not been studied in its conservation history. The projetc presented here, result of the consultation of unpublished material conserved in the Central State Archive of Rome (ACS), it has allowed us to deepen the story of the restoration of the building, in particular withstand between 1929 and 1940.
The study of this site have got the possibility to know the names who intervened for his enactment, first of all institutional personalities such as the University of Florence (Department of Architecture), the Ministry of National Education, the Apostolic Nunciature and the Soprintendenza all’Arte Medievale e Moderna (represented by Giovanni Poggi), as well as architects (Luigi Zumkeller before and Giuseppe Castellucci then) and lenders (the Count David Costantini in the first phase and Ser Arthur Acton at the end), without whom nothing would have been possible.
At the same time we have the opportunity, thanks to unpublished photographs, to know the rules followed in the architectural restoration, in which the building was rediscovered in its primitive forms. Last but absolutely central topic in the analysis and understanding of this intervention, the educational role played by this site, since it made him Zumkeller school camp of the fifth year of the Restoration of Monuments, of which the architect covered the teaching to the newborn School of Architecture in Florence.



Serena Calamai ~ Max Seidel
Federico Fellini: ″L’Olimpo″

Federico Fellini: "The Olimpus"

In the later 1970s, most probably after 1976, Federico Fellini wrote the screenplay for a film about ancient mythology. The film was never made. He signed the manuscript and entitled it Olympus – The Greek Myths (fig. 1); it is now housed in the Federico Fellini Archive at the Cineteca in Rimini. It comprises eighty-six pages, some of them slightly cut down at the edges and here reconstructed.
The dating of Olympus is confirmed not only by references in the Introductory Note to the episode Le Tentazioni del dottor Antonio from Boccaccio ‘70, to Pasolini’s Il fiore delle Mille e una Notte and to Bertolucci’s Novecento (figs. 3-4), but also by the study of the figure of the gigantic Anita Ekberg as a simulacrum of the antique, which in Olympus appears as the ideal of beauté énorme developed with considerable mythological learning. Fellini transforms the iconography of Anita-Hera, queen of the stars, protagonist of the Tentazioni, into Anita-Metis, mingling the ancient sources so as to deconstruct the myth in terms of modernity (Tav. XXII; fig. 2).
The subject of the film is a selection of mythological themes illustrated for cinematographic treatment. The allusive and abstract screenplay, for an almost silent film, impels the director especially in the Introductory Note (transcribed in full in the essay) to describe with particular intensity his ideas for a new symbolism of Greek myth. Fellini, influenced by Surrealism and of course by Georges Méliès’s cinema of “pure fantastic animation”, confers a pictorial quality on the screenplay so as to desconstruct classicist imagery in the iconography of ancient myth. Comparison with the ancient sources of the mythological archetypes allows us to evaluate the innovatory force of contextualising the myths within modernity, an operation carried out with some of the most celebrated ones such as the Battle of the Titans, the love of Semele and Zeus, the infancy of Dionysius and of course Theseus and the Minotaur.
Analysis of the style and composition of this new mythic screenplay is developed through careful examination of the principal figurative categories in relation to the most significant events in the narrative, for each of which the ancient and modern sources are interrogated for comparative purposes. According to Fellini the screenplay should be “allusive and abstract, made of backgrounds and signs, of masses of light”, having as its aim “the imaginative” and “the timeless”. This new cosmogony is developed from surrealist imagery and takes form with the episode of the Titans’ attack on Uranus, against “painted backgrounds” with natural scenography of “pure space”.
The cinematography of the film was to have been “all overexposed”, “of a neutral white solarity”. Light and shade, together with silence and sound, thus determine the aesthetic terms of the filmic image. They constitute the matter of the figures that act in a surreal space, with silent or noisy rhythms, in relation, respectively, to the figures of pure light and to their negative inversion: the shadows, as in a sort of “Balinese shadow theatre”.
The actors are conceived as “masks” and “abstract silhouettes”. The battle between the Cyclopes and the Centomanes, under the guidance of Zeus, is described as a ferocious dance of “vast forms” that fight in the silent abysses of Tartarus like “shapes of moving light and masses of darkness”.
In the specific these abstract silhouettes move to the rhythms of an ancient gymnopaedia in a genuine tableau vivant, the best example being the mythological figures of the three Meliae in the form of “abstract silhouettes”. For the iconography, we show that Fellini was probably inspired by the surrealist Three Graces in the ballet Mercure (1924), with scenes and costumes designed by Picasso and choreography by Léonide Massine. The Study of these three mythological figures follows the development of the narrative of Olympus, in which the three Furies are transformed into the three Meliae and finally into the three Norms, as Aeschylus testifies in the final tragedy of the Oresteia: the Eumenides.
At the centre of this new iconography of myth is the desire for a “cinema of pure fantastic action” mounted with images of powerful vitality, chaos and sonic power, as in the case of Dionysus and the sailors of Acoetes, where the personages are anthropomorphic figures that move on the scene with pantomime gestures, while abstract silhouettes animate the background. Further, the mythological metamorphosis of this story is re-elaborated by Fellini as a fantastic animated transformation that composes a lively scene in continuous figurative evolution. Even more interesting is the myth of Semele and Zeus, for which the director devises a new iconography where the figures are fantastically animated beneath the changing glimmerings of moonlight. In a nocturnal atmosphere Fellini combines the personification of the moon-woman with the motif of the full moon’s reflection in a lake, where the coupling with Zeus appears as interplay between forces of light. Analysis of the iconography of the moon-woman invites comparison between the text of Olympus, where the scene is set against “painted backgrounds”, and certain stills from the most famous films of Georges Méliès (figs. 10-11), as far as the antithetical comparison with two of the principal stills from Fellini’s last film The Voice of the Moon (1990). In this latter film the figure of the moon-woman is developed from the description in the first, subjective screenplay which has references to Giacomo Leopardi’s moon-poetry as well as to some of the best known texts of modern literature such as Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Cosmicomics, and Tommaso Landolfi’s The Moon Stone.
Fellini reformulates the iconography of myth by representing with pantomime, used as a figurative style, those subjects that shatter the traditional illusory repertory of the ancient world. Naturally he draws on Méliès, even though his true source of inspiration seems once again to be the ballet Mercure, designed by Picasso to a commission from the Comte de Beaumont and performed in Paris in 1924 (figs. 14-15). The supreme representation of pantomime-cinema is found in the description of the infancy of Zeus, suckled by the she-goat Amaltheia in the cave of Dicte. This episode is analysed in relation to the importance of the equivalence between cinema and pantomime for the artistic worth of moving images, and is also the pretext for an iconographic excursus on the figure of Amaltheia.
The heart of the narrative of Olympus is the myth of Theseus and the labyrinth, an episode that opens with an account of the banquet of Minos on Crete, when the celebrated artificer Daedalus, creator of the labyrinth and of numerous marvellous sculptures, puts on a dance of animated wooden dolls that “greet, bow, smile and dance, to the music of tambourines and flutes”. The theatrical automata devised by Daedalus in Olympus are part of a long tradition of palace automata known to the courts of Europe. In Fellini’s work the theme had already appeared in the form of the mechanical doll in the film Casanova (1976), where the automaton dances in the ballroom of the Duke of Württemberg (fig. 16). While in Olympus we find a theatre of mechanical dolls, in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story Der Sandmann there is a woman who turns out to be an automaton, that is to say an extremely realistic moving doll. In this connection we consider the idea of the perfect court lady, such as the mechanical one marvellously described in a famous passage in Giacomo Leopardi’s Operette Morali, which makes reference to Il Cortegiano by Baldassar Castiglione.
At the centre of the narration by images lies “one of the greatest symbolic undertakings of Greek mythology”: Theseus and the Minotaur, a subject linked to the archetype of the labyrinth and filtered in Fellini’s imagination through his reading of Carl Gustav Jung. Comparison with the labyrinth scene in the 1969 film Satyricon shows that Fellini had originally thought of the mythological topos as a theatrical representation of the game of life, whereas in Olympus it develops as a rite of passage in an edifying sentimental education (figs. 17-20). Both in the screenplay and in the film, Fellini associates the Minotaur with the Sun, father of Pasiphaë and ancestor of the famous mythological creature. The reinterpretation of the emblematic figures of these myths in an archaic and surrealist sense is shared also by Picasso, whom Fellini admired, as is shown by the bull mask and the figure of the man-Minotaur (figs. 21-22).
The archetype of the labyrinth and the treatment of the Minotaur myth reveal the profound link between the Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Fellini, whose relations from 1960 to 1990 are amply documented not only in unpublished papers but also by their shared collaboration with the Diogenes publishing house of Zurich (fig. 23). Both of them fascinated by the early cinema of Méliès and by Picasso’s surrealist re-elaboration of the Minotaur, the director and the playwright devised new interpretations of the ancient myth, respectively in Olympus and in the play Minotaurus of 1985. Their reciprocal influence is noticeable especially in relation to the figure of the Pythia, whose iconography was reformulated by Dürrenmatt as a mingling of the figures of his second wife Charlotte Kerr and the priestess Pannychis XI, protagonist of the story The death of the Pythia (published by Diogenes in 1976), creating also an antithetical contrast with the alter ego of the priestess of Delphi: the Sphinx (figs. 30-32). Fellini in Olympus, thinking also of Pasolini’s film of Oedipus Rex (1967), creates a figure of oneiric visionary power, detached from the traditional iconography by the addition of a mask; its structure as an archaic idol makes it resemble certain surrealist sculptures by Picasso (figs. 33-34). The figures of the Minotaur and Theseus, analysed in a close comparison between Fellini, Dürrenmatt and Picasso, are carefully studied in relation to the labyrinth not only as “abstruse geometric space” (Fellini) but as a “psychic place” where the shadows of the Minotaur are reflected in the mirrors of consciousness (Dürrenmatt). Modern man has constructed his labyrinth with images and with literature; for Dürrenmatt this is the disorientation of contemporary life, while for Italo Calvino it is a means of ordering the chaos of the world (figs. 40-41).



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