Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 16

G iulia M artina W eston
As pointed out by Jeremy Howard, the current collection of
The political and mercantile ties linking Spain, Italy, and northern
important Renaissance and Baroque works of art resonates
Europe created rich opportunities for artistic exchange. While
in many ways with Colnaghi’s history in dealing in sixteenth-
Italian artists’ investigations into the perspectival construction of
and seventeenth-century Spanish and Italian Old Masters.
space are generally considered a hallmark of Renaissance art,
In looking at the objects themselves, several present complex
the influence of Flemish naturalism and depictions of landscape
examples of the transcultural exchange that existed between
played an equally important role in the development of ideals
the Italian and Iberian peninsulas during the period in which
associated with Italian Renaissance painting.4 Bernardino Zaganelli
they were produced. During much of this time, Spain was
was active in northern Italy in the early sixteenth century when
the dominant political force within Italy, and Habsburg rulers
works by oltramontani, or northern European artists, were highly
dominated politics throughout Europe. Despite this Italians
valued by collectors. His Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of
often expressed confidence in their cultural hegemony, and well
Alexandria (ca. 1510, cat. no. 1) reveals a debt to northern models
into the seventeenth century Spanish writers on art lamented
in the attention to surface detail, as well as in the beautifully
the favoritism shown towards foreign artists. Nevertheless,
articulated landscape dominated by gothic architectural structures.
Italian (and indeed all) artists employed by foreign patrons
Zaganelli’s painting seems to respond especially to the work of
inevitably catered to their clientele’s particular preferences and
Albrecht Dürer, who visited Italy in 1505-1507, during which time
expectations, which were shaped by local tradition. The story
he was active primarily in Venice where he painted his magnificent
therefore lies not solely in the gradual spread of Italian artistic
altarpiece the Feast of the Rose Garlands (fig. 1) for the German
innovations, but rather in a more subtle form of exchange in
confraternal church, San Bartolomeo. This work, as well as other
which the mobility of merchants, diplomats and artists led not
designs by Dürer disseminated through prints, had a significant
only to the movement of artworks themselves, but also to the
transmission of ideas, aesthetic values, and tastes across Europe.
impact on Italian artists. Dürer in turn was influenced by the
artwork he encountered in Venice, especially that of Giorgione
Taking into account how such cross-cultural encounters shaped
and Giovanni Bellini. The German considered the latter painter
the development of the arts in sixteenth- and seventeenth-
still the best among Venetians, despite his old age, and indeed the
century Europe, this essay will consider individual works in terms
Bellinian model continued to exert a powerful influence long after
of their patronage history and the cultural circumstances in
his death in 1516. In its horizontal format, colouring, and subject,
which they were produced.
Zaganelli’s composition also echoes a Belliniesque, Venetian idiom.
Fig. 1. Albrecht Dürer, Feast of the Rose Garlands, 1506, oil on panel, 162 x 194.5 cm, Prague, The National Gallery.


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