Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
Joanna Reiling Lindell
Heather M. Shirey
The Genoese painter-printmaker Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609-1664)
created three sets of pendant prints. Two have been recognized in previous scholarship; my research identifies a third pair in the etchings of The Nativity with God the Father and Angels, c.1647-48 and The Entry into Noah’s Ark, c.1650. The newly identified set also provides the first recognized instance of Castiglione’s use of the distinctive pictorial format for two religious subjects. The intentionality of designing interdependent, complementary images is indicative of the works’ significance. But the artistic sophistication of the Nativity and Entry compositions can only be realized when their relationship is acknowledged and considered.
Formal analysis of the Nativity and Entry discloses subtle differences in
technique, symptom of the years separating their production. Still, the etchings exhibit
the traditional formal qualities of pendants; same in size, they are compositionally
balanced and visually harmonious. My investigation of the images’ iconography,
individually and as a set, reveals previously unnoticed iconographic connections and
thematic consistencies between them, establishing the religious pendants’ theological
complexity. Considering the works in relation to Castiglione’s etchings from the period,
related versions he produced earlier in his career, and relevant contemporary imagery,
enlightens our understanding about what the artist hoped to achieve in their pairing.
Reading them as a cohesive set has important implications for our understanding
of the individual prints. As mutually dependent parts to a whole, the interpretive potential of both compositions is enhanced and multiplied when viewed the context of the unified program. Scholarship on the artist’s ingenuity and originality focuses primarily on his secular work. This research therefore sheds new light on the interpretive potential and artistic significance of Castiglione’s religious prints.
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Passariello, Dakota, "Visual and Thematic Harmony in Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione’s Religious Pendants" (2017). Art History Master's Qualifying Papers. 21.