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«Francisco de Holanda à Bologne, Pâques 1540. Les Portugais et Bologne durant la première moitié du Cinquecento

Abstract : Francisco de Holanda in Bologna, Easter 1540. The Portuguese and Bologna during the First Half of the 16th CenturyPainter, art theorist, illuminator, miniaturist, architect, Francisco de Holanda (1517-1584), was still unjustily considered an obscure and minor figure in art history 40 years ago. Nowadays, according to Prof. Baptista Pereira, he has become “the most internationally well-known and admired figure of Portuguese Art of all times”. As a matter of fact, Holanda only mentions Bologna twice in all his known writings. Both mentions, occurring in private conversations in 1538-1540, were recommendations to visit the city made to Holanda by the most important political figure and the greatest artist of the 16th century : Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and Michelangelo Buonarroti. These two private encounters are significant indicators of the exceptional quality and variety of his interlocutors throughout his journey to and from Rome (Jan. 1538 – June 1540) as well as his trips in Italy, begun when he was 20 years old in the retinue of King João III’s ambassador to the Pope, Dom Pedro Mascarenhas. Though Holanda tells us nothing else about Bologna, the meticulous examination of his life, acquaintances and travels allows us to determine what he had learned about Bologna and its history in Portugal and Rome, to identify the Portuguese who knew it well and, finally, to reconstruct his own week-long visit of the city. It is indeed an exhilarating challenge : starting from a single young artist in order to paint a cultural, artistic and political panorama of a half-century of Luso-Bolognese relations in the Renaissance. In the opening scene, we follow Holanda — in the company of, among others, Mascarenhas and 33-year-old Saint Francis Xavier who was on his way to Lisbon and his missionary peregrination to India and the Far East — on a pilgrimage to Loreto, before following the Adriatic coast north toward Bologna. The first section deals with Bologna’s role as the center of the three major European politico-religious summit meetings during the first third of the century, in 1515, 1530 and 1533, and Portugal’s diplomatic participation in them. In the third three-month meeting between Charles V and Pope Clement VII, Mascarenhas was present as ambassador to the Emperor’s Court accompanied by the renowned Neo-Latin poet and humanist André de Resende. This leads to an extensive review of Bolognese print shops and publications since the beginning of the century, with special attention to books by Portuguese authors and specific focus on the two Mascarenhas-financed poetry books published by Resende in Giovanni Battista Faelli’s print shop, Genethliacon and De Vita Aulica. The next year, in 1534 at the King’s Court in Évora, in the household of the Cardinal-Infant Dom Afonso, Resende became for three years Holanda’s teacher of Latin, Classics and epigraphy, giving the young artist a profound knowledge of the monuments and topography of Rome before his voyage, as well as a wealth of information about Bologna. In the second section “Bologna before Bologna”, we see what the Portuguese like Holanda knew about the city before going there. After the intriguing testimonies of a nobleman and a military captain, it becomes clear that the Portuguese presence in Bologna was marked by several prominent figures at distinct moments : the literary work by jurist Luís Teixeira and poet Henrique Caiado on the latter’s magnum opus published by Faelli’s uncle in 1501, Resende’s publications by Faelli in 1533 and the sojourn there of theology student and future dialogue writer Jerónimo Osório in 1539-1541 at the time Holanda arrived. Holanda had also learned much about the town from Bolognese artists : Sebastiano Serlio who gave him Book IV (Venice, 1537) of his treatise on architecture when they met and talked in Venice in 1539, as well as, in Rome, Francesco De Marchi in Madama Margaret of Austria’s household and the painter and architect Jacopo da Vignola with whom he studied in the Cortile di Belvedere in the Vatican, where he drew Vignola’s portrait by the side of the so-called “Fountain of Cleopatra”. The third and final section follows Holanda’s wanderings in Bologna on foot and on horseback, between palaces whose façades were all painted by Amico Aspertini, scrutinizing the works of Renaissance painters, sculptors, architects and no doubt meeting engravers like Fagiuoli, printers like Faelli, the Dominican historian Fra Leandro Alberti recommanded by Resende, and very possibly the marquetery artist of inlaid wood, Fra Damiano da Bergamo. All these people, like Holanda himself during one week, gravitated more or less around San Petronio, San Michele in Bosco and San Domenico where Holanda saw the kneeling Angel bearing the candleholder sculpted by his friend Michelangelo in 1494 at the age of twenty, just about the same age as Holanda in Bologna. A most tantalizing suggestion is the very real possibility that on the Monday after Easter, March 29, 1540, Holanda ran into Giorgio Vasari painting his décor of the refectory in San Michele in Bosco, two Founding Fathers of art theory who had not started writing yet.
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Contributor : Sylvie Deswarte-Rosa <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 9:05:01 PM
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Sylvie Deswarte-Rosa. «Francisco de Holanda à Bologne, Pâques 1540. Les Portugais et Bologne durant la première moitié du Cinquecento. Antonucci, Micaela; Frommel, Sabine. Da Bologna all'Europa. Artisti bolognesi in Portogallo (XVI-XIX secolo), Bononia University Press, pp.21-70, 2017. ⟨halshs-01993329⟩



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