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- The family in Renaissance Florence. I libri della famiglia
- I libri della famiglia
- Women and Art bibliography
- Family Renaissance Florence Libri Famiglia by Leon Battista Alberti - AbeBooks
I libri della famiglia eBook by Leon Battista Alberti Kobo Edition | dapil.pemilusydney.org.au
Eight grieving women surround the free-standing bed where Francesca lies. The midwife holds the other arm and searches for a pulse. Their collective declaration of sadness contrasts sharply to the austere and somewhat restrained expressions of the figures in the presentation scene. The articulation of suffering was customary among Florentine women when a death occurred. Within the confines of the domestic bedchamber, the women disclose their feelings over the loss of the mother and male child.
The pose of the dying figure with her serene expression differentiates to the visible expression of mourning displayed by those who surround her. Murdered by his own mother with the aid of the goddess Diana in revenge for the slaughter of his uncles, the Death of Meleager was a popular subject matter found on ancient Roman sarcophagi Fig. Traditionally, the dying hero is represented lying in state surrounded by his mourning loved ones. In both the Bargello Relief and the Death of Meleager scene, the dying protagonist lies on a bed surrounded by a group of figures with varying expressions of profound melancholy including the seated female holding her head in her hands.
The principal characters do not exhibit the suffering they have endured.
By depicting Francesca in this manner, Verrocchio conferred the deceased with a sense of heroic dignity and gravitas. Her calm appearance masks the pain and suffering she obviously endured. It is only subtly referenced to through the depiction of her limp, tousled hair which sticks to her neck, her dress slipping down her left arm and the exposing of her left breast.
The fact that she is portrayed as sitting up in the bed demonstrates how she was physically exhausted from the labour. The representation of such a traumatic and grisly procedure would have been deemed inappropriate and too graphic for this commission and its contemporary audience. Her willingness to die in order to give birth to her son demonstrates her heroic nature. Unlike typical representations of the presentation of the infant to his father for naming, Verrocchio depicts the moment when the midwife presents the dead swaddled child.
Immediately, the viewer is confronted with a sense of tragedy and loss of not only the baby but also his mother. The inclusion of a clearly recognisable Giovanni when compared to other representations of the patron, Fig. Francesca was only identifiable through her association with her husband and his portrayal in the opposite episode. The relief was designed to act as a didactic narrative to emphasise the role of motherhood to the female audience.
Although the scene depicts her death, the implied message is a positive one as it points to the possibility of achieving a revered status through the fulfilment of their duties as patrician wives. Verrocchio chose to portray the realities of the surrounding death within the domestic context, respectful of the mourning customs of the time while simultaneously giving a truthful image of this emotional event for all those involved in the process, an event which women would experience in one capacity or another during their lives.
Olschki Editore, Florence, , Levaric Smarr and D. Valentini eds. Johnson and S. Matthew Grieco eds. Pregnancy was a dangerous event in the life of a fifteenth-century Florentine patrician woman.
One-fifth of all deaths among females that occurred in Florence during this period were in fact related to complications in childbirth or ensuing post-partum infections. In the years and , the Books of the Dead recorded the deaths of fifty-two women as a result of labour. As conditions for pregnant women did not improve in the ensuing half a century, childbirth remained a dangerous event for women to endure.
Husbands took many precautions to ensure a successful birth as can be seen in the vast array of objects associated with this event created at this time. People turned to religion and magic in order to ensure that both the mother and child would survive this perilous process. Death in childbirth affected women from all classes and wealth did not act as a deterrent.
The family in Renaissance Florence. I libri della famiglia
The loss of a fertile young woman was detrimental to both her family and to society in general. Not only did her natal and conjugal families lose out on the children she may have had in the future, the loss of the child that she carried which was commonplace denied the family the opportunity to forge advantageous marriage alliances and heirs to the family name and wealth. In a society which had recently experienced the devastating effects of the Black Death, leading to the loss of approximately 80, of its citizens, the civic authorities of the city-state began to actively promote the need for the production of children to counter-act the dramatic population decline.
A family-centred ideology emerged at the core of Florentine society. In the writings of resident authors such as Leon Battista Alberti, marriage and family were regarded as the building blocks of a strong and prosperous society. The need for children was of paramount importance to the citizens of Florence as a means of ensuring the continuation of family lineages and the prosperity of the society which they were born into.
The production of children was thus perceived primarily as for the good of both the family and society rather than just for individual satisfaction. The inhabitants of the city-state and particularly the women were under immense societal pressure to carry out their civic duty by producing offspring. As women were the bearers of children, their roles within their marital families centred upon their ability to fulfil the role of motherhood and produce as many children as possible for their husbands.
It is clear through the examination of these art works that a woman received a privileged status through her death in childbirth, particularly if she had already provided her husband with a male heir. Although the depictions of women who died in this manner do not usually reference what caused their demise, these works promote motherhood to contemporary Italian viewers in a number of ways.
This argument stems from an idea put forward by the historian David Herlihy who states that, due to motherhood, Renaissance Italian women were elevated in status. Giovanna was born into one of the most influential and powerful families of the period, the Albizzi. At the age of eighteen, Giovanna entered into another powerful Florentine family, the Tornabuoni, through her marriage to Lorenzo Tornabuoni. Marriage was the key event in the lives of Florentine citizens, particularly for women as they were dependent upon matrimony alone to define their status. Girls were conditioned for their nuptials from an early age.
The similarities in the ages of the bride and groom is considered unusual in the Florentine context; usually the man would choose his bride when he was twenty to twenty-five years old and, if he should feel that his position would improve, he would wait until he reached thirty to marry.
The bride was usually in her early teenage years at the time of betrothal.
I libri della famiglia
Gert Jan van der Sman argues that the similarity in their age suggests that their union was for dynastic purposes. Giovanna died less than a year later on 7th October , as a result of childbirth.
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Of particular interest are the series of images created by the prominent Florentine artist Domenico Ghirlandaio commissioned by her grieving husband and also her father-in-law shortly after her death. It reads as:. The identity of the author of these words has been a matter of much contention amongst art historians. Not only did he lose his beloved wife who he had been married to for only a brief period of time, he also lost the child which she was giving birth to.
Their first-born son, Giovanni, who was less than a year old at the time of her death, lost his mother. Therefore the epigram is one of both anguish and lament by a grief-stricken husband beseeching art to bring his wife back to life. The viewer is left in no doubt that the words of this epigram are in fact referring to Giovanna herself, her character, mind and feminine virtues. This image is one of the only female portraits of the Renaissance period whose exact location was documented in an inventory.
Women and Art bibliography
Those who saw the portrait would have been invited by Lorenzo himself into the room. It was within these spaces that men placed their most valuable art works and prized possessions so that their wealth and prestige could be exhibited and seen. The inscription acts as a public acknowledgement of her worth and significance to her husband and adds to the sense of high regard she achieved posthumously. Heather Gregory University of California Press, Cohen, Elizabeth S.
King, Catherine E.
Family Renaissance Florence Libri Famiglia by Leon Battista Alberti - AbeBooks
Radke, Gary. Stefaniak, R. Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art.