Private vs. Public Iconographic Artwork of the Middle Ages

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CONFERENCE: Research Week

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Brock, Rebecca
Hosted by Utah State University Libraries
lecture / presentation description
Monks of the middle ages withdrew from society and sought lives of devotion and self-denial following in the footsteps of Christ. Fra Angelico, of the Dominican order, and one of the greatest painters of his time, lived this stark yet altruistic lifestyle in fifteenth century Florence, Italy, in the Priory of San Marco. He believed that his paintings, such as the Virgin Mary and the Angle, Christ’s Transfiguration, and the Virgin and the Annunciation would create a feeling of space similar to that in the paintings. His art was conceived and created simply as aids to meditation and prayer for his fellow monks and almost exclusively located in the private areas of the Priory. In contrast other renaissance monasteries such as the Florence Baptistery of St John adorned the public spaces with art. Art works in the Baptistery include, Ghiberti’s acclaimed Gates of Paradise and the iconic gold ceiling mosaics, the Last Judgment, the Stories of John the Baptist, the Story of Joseph, and the Stories of Genesis. Art is intrinsically emotional whether its statement to viewers is deliberate or inadvertent, there is a particular mood and aura set by each individual work of art. This project will examine if there is a visible difference in the style and iconography of works intended for the monks versus those offered to a wider public.