"Or guarda tu ...desta donna la forma": Francesco da Barberino's Poetic and Pictorial Invention Open Access

MacLaren, Shelley Jean (2007)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/cj82k7883?locale=en
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Abstract

The Tuscan lawyer and poet Francesco da Barberino (1264-1348) designed novel personifications. His designs appeared on palace walls, in his book of hours, in manuscripts of his didactic poetry, and on a tomb. In his conduct book the 'Documenti d'Amore,' Francesco drew attention to his invention of the images, and emphasized their utility for his reader/viewer. Products of Francesco's imagination, the images were to prompt meditation, understanding and memory. Francesco's design and use of images provides important evidence of late medieval visuality.

The first chapter examines Francesco's stake in his designs. His invention of personifications was closely allied with his activity as a writer. Both activities involved giving specific material form to abstract ideas. Personifications were evident fictions that could be claimed by their inventor. Positioning himself carefully in relation to authority, Francesco laid claim to the forms he invented, and to the role of mediator. The chapter also discusses the function and reception of monumental personifications.

The second chapter examines the images in Francesco's book of hours, or 'officiolum'. The design and placement of the images represent Francesco's response to the devotional contents of books of hours. Once executed, his designs prompted meditation and a particular experience of the manuscript. Francesco's self-consciousness about his activity as an inventor is evident in the manuscript's images.

The third chapter turns to the 'Documenti d'Amore.' Drawing on the material presence of the images, and on the commensurability of pictorial personifications to real bodies, Francesco taught his reader to see and interpret images and the world, and to shape his behaviour accordingly. Francesco's forcible reinterpretation of the governing figure of Amor, turning carnal love into divine, demonstrates responsible poetic and pictorial invention and thematizes the reader's responsibility for appropriate interpretation. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the images of the 'Reggimento e costumi di donna.'

The concluding chapter addresses the tomb of Bishop Antonio degli Orsi, sculpted by Tino di Camaino. Francesco adapted his preexisting allegory of Death to commemorate the bishop. Comparison of the different versions highlights Francesco's representation of his claim to the mediating role of poet and designer.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • INTRODUCTION
  • CHAPTER ONE - POETIC AND PICTORIAL INVENTION AND THE NEGOTIATION OF AUTHORITY
  • CHAPTER TWO - FRANCESCO'S BOOK OF HOURS: THE MEDIATION OF DEVOTIONAL EXPERIENCE AND POETIC CONVERSION
  • CHAPTER THREE - LOVE'S LESSONS: THE SOMATIC ENCOUNTER AND USEFUL INTERPRETATION
  • CONCLUSION - THE TOMB OF BISHOP ANTONIO DEGLI ORSI: COMMEMORATION AND THE PROPER ENDS OF POETIC AND PICTORIAL INVENTION
  • Illustrations
  • Works Cited

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