Post-classical history

8 Mobility, the Senses, and the Elision of Style

If Armenini’s Precepts is notable for circumscribing the discourse of mobility within an autobiographical framework, it certainly was not without precedent. As an event instrumental in providing commissions and extending knowledge of the world beyond the confines of one’s patria, travel was a recurring theme in artists’ first-person narratives. We might hazard that the first-person narration of mobility would generate straightforward reportage, of distances covered shorn of the rich figurative language that so characterizes the descriptions of other traveling artists by writers removed from their subjects by one or more degrees. But as James Amelang has observed, travel “is so important a subject in artisan autobiography that one can properly refer to it as literature of displacement.”1 In a number of autobiographical sources, traveling artists elaborate on the physical and psychological effects of mobility; they conceive the self at tension between artistic labor and leisure, between the fulfillment of responsibilities and the enjoyment of autonomy. An account that especially favors the latter categories and merges travel narrative with memoir is Federico Zuccaro’s Il passaggio per Italia (1608), the subject of the present chapter. In his other writings, notably in L’idea de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti (1607), Zuccaro had elaborated a highly esoteric vision of the artistic process rooted in Jesuit theological concerns and the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Yet in its focus on the mundane though pleasurable world of travel, gastronomy, and entertainment,Il passaggio emerges as a counterpart or antipode of sorts to L’idea. By stressing sensuous experiences aside from the production of art, Zuccaro’s travel account raises complex questions regarding the art historical enterprise, what methodological instruments we employ, and to what sources they are applied. How does one make sense of an artist’s activity outside the workshop or studio? How does the describer experience the flow of time in a foreign landscape? Finally, what constitutes an art historical account, its boundaries, contours, and limits? Or, put another way, how much can quotidian concerns intrude on a source before it slips from the art historian’s grasp and enters more properly into other disciplines or falls into oblivion?

Zuccaro’s mobility and the problems it raises find parallels in earlier sources, and it is worth considereing these briefly before pursuing his intricate representation of the traveling self in the world. For instance, already in Ghiberti’s I commentarii (c. 1447–55) the portrayal of physical displacement exploits a wellspring of tropes and literary conventions. One of these is the triumph of repatriation, as when Ghiberti returns to Florence from Pesaro to compete for and eventually secure the commission for the Florentine Baptistery’s bronze doors. “To me was conceded the palm of victory by all the experts and all who competed with me,” he unabashedly exclaims, “to me was universally conceded the glory without any exception.” Such autobiographical accounts lean toward the positive aspect of mobility—the self-aggrandizement that comes with having one’s style acclaimed at princely courts and undertaken by pupils—disregarding the darker aspects of physical displacement, such as illness, amnesia, and mockery, which also figure prominently in biographical narratives.2

Fanfaronade while on the road is certainly present in a later autobiographic work of note, Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita, written between 1558 and 1567, a picaresque work avant la lettre. Translated by Goethe and made into an opera by Berlioz, Cellini’s life story more than embodies the traveling virtuoso who moved between various European courts during the latter part of the sixteenth century. The Florentine artist’s journeys take him not only on the central Italian circuit, particularly in Rome, where he enjoyed a number of papal commissions, but also to Naples, Ferrara, Mantua, Padua, Venice, and eventually to the French court as well. Francesco Podesti’s historical composition of Francis I and entourage in the studio to inspect the artist’s Jupiter is but one of many nineteenth-century works that sought to visualize Cellini’s vagabond life and the skills he carried in his hands to distant locales (fig. 8.1). A series of stone arches evoke the sculptor’s Parisian rive gauche studio located in the castle of Petit Nesle, with a distant view of Notre Dame enhancing the scene’s setting in France. While the painting draws on the trope of the ruler visiting the artist immured and at work for the moment in his atelier, Cellini’s Vita portrays the artist as a figure difficult to restrain: this rogue artist impetuously flees Florence due to his aversion to playing the flute at his father’s insistence, and reaches Rome where he studies the city’s antiquities and achieves a degree of monetary success by carrying out a commission for a silver casket. Throughout the rest of the work, Cellini’s travels are more suited to those of a knight errant than a journeyman in desperate need of employment. The number of violent scrapes and adventures he endures is prodigious: he defends himself against men on horseback while at Selciata; he escapes the machinations of a Corsican assassin and outwits belligerent Florentine exiles in Ferrara; he survives a perilous journey on the Swiss waterways, narrowly escaping drowning; he wins the upper hand in a brawl with a postmaster in Siena. While Cellini certainly admired the sights he witnesses on these journeys, such as the Camposanto in Pisa and the city of Zurich, whose cleanliness he likens to a jewel, he rarely acknowledges any impact these voyages may have had on his working process. The same applies for Cellini’s many and often unfulfilled vows to undertake pilgrimages either to Loreto or to the Holy Sepulcher itself.3


FIGURE 8.1 Francesco Podesti, Francis I in the Studio of Benvenuto Cellini, 1839. Oil on panel (98 × 136 cm). Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome.

The traveling artist recounting his own voyages can even display contempt for the local artistic idioms he encounters at his destination, as is the case in Vasari’s own autobiography, which appears in the 1568 edition of the Lives. Of course, he repeatedly mentions his diligence in studying key artistic monuments. “There remained not a single notable work then in Rome, or afterwards in Florence, and in other places where I dwelt,” Vasari boasts, “which I in my youth did not draw, and not only paintings, but also ancient and modern sculptures and architectural works.” But otherwise, when style enters his discourse on mobility, it is limited to the roles of diffusion, correction, or observation, eschewing any semblance of dynamic interaction. A case in point is his intervention in Naples in the vaulting for the refectory of the monks of Monte Oliveto. He resolves to transform this “old and awkward” architectural space into an exhibition of the maniera moderna. Vasari considers his paintings of Old and New Testament scenes and allegorical figures in this stuccowork of ovals, squares, and octagons as a stimulant for improved stylistic norms, otherwise not present in the southern Italian city. “It is a curious thing,” he muses, “that after Giotto, there had not been in such a noble and grand city masters who in painting did anything of importance, though there were some things by the hand of Perugino and Raphael taken there; thus, I endeavored as far as my little knowledge could reach, so as to awaken the minds of that country to carry out grand and honorable works.”4

Vasari does remark that he takes advantage of Pietro Aretino’s invitation to come to Venice to observe the works of his near contemporaries. “I went willingly,” he writes, “to see on that journey the works of Titian and other painters; which I in fact did, for in a few days I saw in Modena and Parma the works of Correggio, those of Giulio Romano in Mantua, and the antiquities of Verona.” This examination of works in situ would inform the portions of Vasari’s Lives on these northern Italian artists, albeit biased and supplemented by his extensive network of informants in the second edition. Yet Vasari’s work in Venice, as seen in the painted ceiling for the residence of Giovanni Cornaro and a panel depicting the Holy Family with St. Francis for Francesco Leoni (fig. 8.2), is adamantly central Italian in its emphasis on seated monumental figures, well-delineated contour lines, stark contrasts in coloring, and absence of rough brushwork. And as in Cellini’s autobiography, Vasari depicts his mobility as an activity that goes well beyond the usual dyad of work/study that accounts for much of early modern artists’ travels. At one point in his Life, Vasari states that recreation alone was chief cause for a voyage. Exhausted by the numerous enterprises undertaken for the ducal court in Florence, Vasari is granted a leave by Cosimo I, “so that I might depart for several months. Such that having set myself on a voyage, I sought little less than all of Italy, seeing infinite friends and my masters, and works of diverse excellent artists.”5


FIGURE 8.2 Giorgio Vasari, Holy Family with St. Francis in a Landscape, 1542. Oil on canvas (184.15 × 125.1 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.


It is this conception of mobility as diversion and recreation that comes to the fore in the first treatise from the sixteenth century that has an artist’s own travel as its chief subject, Federico Zuccaro’s Il passaggio per Italia. Like a roman par lettres, the book is composed of a series of epistles to such cultural figures as the erudite theologian Pierleone Casella, friend of Cesare Ripa and member of the Roman Accademia degli Incitati, as well as to the artists Giambologna and Federico Barocci. These letters from Federico provide their illustrious recipients, as the title announces, a “copious narration of the various things experienced, seen and done in his leisure in Venice, Mantua, Milan, Pavia, Turin, and other parts in the Piedmont.” Or as Federico himself declares in the opening epistle: “I will compose not a letter, but an account of the many things seen and visited ... various places of devotion as well as those of entertainment [spasso] and pleasure [piacere].” Among the northern Italian sights he promises to describe are “palaces, gardens, and fountains that do not envy those in Rome and Florence” in addition to other delights such as “sleigh rides on frozen snow, dances, parties, and royal dinners.” These various activities and sights which Federico professes to have experienced are not devoid of artistic and, more specifically, stylistic interest. Yet here and indeed throughout Il passaggio, Federico stages himself more as a traveler enjoying the spectacles he witnesses at his destinations—and in fact the term godere frequently appears—and less as an itinerant artist needing to exert his style according to royal or princely demand. The artist’s time abroad becomes less of an interaction with style, stimulating instead auditory and gustatory taste, less strictly artistic and more aesthetic.6

To be sure, the equation of mobility with leisure was not the sole vein in which Federico expressed his views concerning artists’ travels. Perhaps the most vivid exposition on mobility to survive from the latter part of the sixteenth century, Federico’s Early Life of Taddeo Zuccaro represents the travel of his older brother as inculcating both diligence and long-suffering in the face of adverse circumstances. This cycle of twenty biographical drawings was most likely intended as models for an unexecuted decorative cycle in Federico’s home. Now the Biblioteca Hertziana, Federico’s former residence was originally planned as an auberge to host young artists without means who arrived in Rome to follow a program of study. Portraying exemplars for its audience, the Early Lifeillustrates the travails and eventually triumph which issue from Taddeo’s decision to depart from his homeland, the Marchigian town of Sant’Angelo in Vado, and pursue an artistic career in Rome. Several of the drawings offer compelling visual counterparts to Armenini’s recommendations to study a prescribed set of works of art—the façades of Polidoro da Caravaggio, antique sculptures, Raphael’s frescoes in the Villa Farnesina, and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Yet the Early Life also explores the emotional and psychological turmoil that was mobility’s handmaiden, a coupling to which Vasari, Dolce, and Armenini all make allusion and occasionally bewail and even condemn in their writings. The series’ fifth drawing—Taddeo Rebuffed by his Kinsman Francesco Il Sant’Angelo (fig. 8.3)—bears an inscription that conveys the hardship that was so often considered to accompany displacement from one’s homeland: “He who goes far from his Patria / hopes in God alone, not in any relative, / because there the lowly one aches and fears.” The drawing itself portrays Taddeo presenting a letter of introduction to his cousin, the painter Francesco Il Sant’Angelo, who summarily refuses to accept him. The scene could even be taken as a warning never to venture to Rome if interpreted without awareness of Taddeo’s eventual success as he unveils his frescoes gracing the façade of the Palazzo Mattei.7

The drawing’s reversed continuous narrative, which calls for the work to be read from right to left, posits the drawing as a conclusion rather than as an intermediate part of a sequence. Of course, the figure in the background studying façade frescoes may be a visual commentary on Vasari’s remarks in his Life of the resilient Taddeo, thus promising the continuation of the series: “But for all that, not losing heart and not being dismayed, the poor boy contrived to maintain himself ... at times also drawing something, as best he could.” Yet the drawing’s perspectival scheme, one which places the vanishing point beyond the open portal at the very center of the work, emphasized all the more by the strong fall of shadows, also advances the possibility of Taddeo’s departure from Rome, an escape from this scene of cold rejection and rebuttal. Federico reiterates the theme of hardship endured due to residence in a foreign locale in a number of other drawings in the series, such as those that show his brother employed as a menial laborer at the house of the painter Giovanni Piero Calabrese. An artist with Greek roots (whose real last name was Condopulos) from southern Italy, Calabrese himself is a foreign artist, though he bears no sympathy toward Taddeo’s plight. This is perhaps an indication of the fierce competition between artists in sixteenth-century Rome, or, more concretely, the exploitation of young artists in the bottega system to which Armenini makes frequent allusion.8


FIGURE 8.3 Federico Zuccaro, Taddeo Rebuffed by His Kinsman Francesco Il Sant’Angelo, c. 1595. Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, over black chalk (17.9 × 41.4 cm). J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Accompanying these depictions of suffering are other travel topoi, among them the conflation of physical and allegorical mobility. One drawing, for example, depicts Taddeo greeted at a gate leading to the city of Rome by the figures of Toil, Servitude, and Hardship, along with the Ass and Ox that allude to the qualities of obedience and patience (fig. 8.4). What is more, the placement of Taddeo in the foreground and relatively low on the picture plane recalls the convention of the artist’s pilgrimage through style leading ever upward. The journey on the “road of virtue” is “rocky and full of thorns,” as Vasari states in the Life of Gozzoli, and those accomplished painters who, according to Armenini, “have overcome all obstacles and suffering and, with obstinacy and patience, have traveled over so steep and long a road to arrive at the supreme degree of perfection.” The image of the mountainous landscape of toil and diligence finds concrete expression in the decoration in the Palazzo Zuccari itself (fig. 8.5). The central panel in the frescoes’ vaulted gallery on the ground floor shows, behind a reclining hero figure, at times identified as Hercules, a towering cliff and the arduous ascent toward the Temple of Virtue. Two travelers, possibly Dante and Virgil holding the laurel branch, trudge upward, while to the left, unfortunate voyagers who have misstepped plunge into the abyss. Reinforcing Federico’s personal associations with this theme are the panel’s prominent position in the home and the sugar loaves and zucchini flowers in the yellow frame, plays on the word zucchero (sugar) and fiori di zucca that served along with comets as part of his family crest. Even the Palazzo Zuccari’s topographical position may have transformed the subject of allegorical mobility into an actual physical experience for its visitors. Located above the Spanish steps, the palace requires guests to ascend the Pincian Hill to reach its premises.9


FIGURE 8.4 Federico Zuccaro, Taddeo at the Entrance to Rome Greeted by Servitude, Hardship, and Toil and by Fortitude and Patience (the Ox and Ass), c. 1595. Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, over black chalk (41 × 17.5 cm). J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.


FIGURE 8.5 Federico Zuccaro, known as The Deeds of Hercules, 1590/1600. Fresco (650 × 230 cm). Palazzo Zuccari, Rome.


Given that the Early Life of Taddeo forges mobility with hardship and diligence, it is all the more surprising that Federico in Il passaggio associates travel with leisure. The terms ricreatione/ricreazione (recreation) and ozio / otio (leisure), diporto (ambling, pastime), godere / godimento (enjoyment), along with activities such as touring and dancing, recur like a refrain in Federico’s account. “È un diporto per certo, / (Zuccaro) il tuo viaggio” (“It is certainly a pastime / (Zuccaro) your voyage”) declares the first of several poems attributed to Giovan Luigi Collini, the Venetian literary figure, which preface Il passaggio. Federico himself opens the first letter to Casella with an image of cozy repose and a tone of intimacy characteristic of the epistolary genre: “Having a bit of leisure time in these days during Carnival, while I am close to the fire ... instead of seeing masques, going to parties or plays as the joyful youth do, it pleases me to spend a bit of time with you.” Further on, he declares outright, “In this, my voyage, I have seen and experienced various and diverse ricreazioni.” Federico narrates that at one of his destinations—Pavia—he stays for no less than nine months, stating, “I took a number of ricreationi in diverse places, within and beyond the town,” such as to the nearby Certosa and Milan. On the Lago Maggiore, the body of water between Lombardy and Piedmont, he spends fifteen days of pleasure, “enjoying various fishing trips and pastimes of that place.” Cardinal Federico Borromeo, his host there, takes him to an island “full of cedars, orange, and lemon trees with gardens of a singular beauty” which also possesses “un Palazzo di molta ricreatione.” Turning his attention to his time in Piedmont, he informs his addressee that the people in that region “are especially and much given to parties, dances, and music,” a trait giving rise to the proverb: al popol di Turino / pane, e vino, e tamburino (“for the people of Turin / bread, wine and tambourine”). Just as the Romans constructed theaters and stadiums for their people, Federico observes, in Turin “there is not a Villa, nor a Castle, or a City that does not have a public place for festivals and dances ... and throughout the year the people enjoy themselves, dancing and dancing [ballando e danzando].” Nor in his letters to his fellow artists does he shy away from recounting the pleasures experienced while on tour. He assures Giambologna that his letter will apprise the sculptor of the “many diverse things of enjoyment and pleasure which were seen, experienced and done in this tour and time that I have been away from Rome,” in particular the diporto of the hours spent in the gardens of Turin. To Barocci, Federico justifies such leisure, stating that “it is fitting at times to allow some ricreazione and not to leave oneself too occupied continually by our studies.” This concession toward recreation stands in contrast with the sweat and diligence Taddeo and Federico himself demonstrated during training in their youth.10

Federico’s preoccupation with recounting the numerous ricreazioni he enjoys during his tour of northern Italy does not lead to an absolute neglect of works of art. He describes, for instance, the tableaus in the various chapels that constitute the Sacro Monte in Varallo, a site founded by the Franciscan Observants in the late fifteenth century which re-created the atmosphere of pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher. Federico, in fact, counts his visits to the dozens of these chapels as “spiritual recreation,” devotional exercises comparable to the acts of meditation he practiced while in Rome as a participant in the Congregazione dei Nobili which met at the Professed House of the Gesù. In each of the Sacro Monte’s chapels is portrayed “a mystery of the Life, Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in imitation of the Holy Land.” The realistic effects conveyed through the mixture of polychrome sculpture, painting, and fabrics induce a response of “singular devotion through seeing in those [chapels] represented al vivo all the figures and mysteries in relief and in colored terracotta that appear real and living.” He pauses momentarily to praise the frescoes of Gaudenzio Ferrari and states that the polychrome sculpture of the Murder of the Innocents “cause[s] all women universally to cry.” Federico also turns his attention to works of art that portray mythological subject matter. Later in Il passaggio in describing his journey to Mantua, Federico admires the paintings of Giulio Romano in the Palazzo del Te. In a synesthetic vein, he comments on how the musical concerts held in the Sala di Psiche and the Sala dei Giganti convey “harmony and suaveness.”11

It is this multisensory mode, a grasp of a variety of media, that is one of Il passaggio’s most distinctive traits. Federico dedicates, in fact, the bulk of his prose to sensory phenomena usually kept at arm’s length from the artistic trinity of painting, sculpture, and architecture. He describes at length, for instance, the “inventions of hairdressing” at the Savoyard court. Punctuating this ekphrasis is an etching that depicts Turinese aristocratic coiffure with heads in profile and frontal view surrounded by starched cartwheel ruffs (fig. 8.6): “First, [there is] a large palmo of a clump of hair, that most of [the ladies] wear smooth and laid flat. Then above this, there is another veil fringe from which emerges another palmo [of hair], and in the middle of this veil upon the summit there is placed a jewel in the guise of a rosette with pearls, rubies, and diamonds, held with a ribbon that binds the said veil above the tuft of hair, and this veil is strewn with I do not know what of black flies, crickets, butterflies, or insects of glass ... and in respect to those veils, there are some who wear them white, as white cotton, others yellow, blue, peacock blue, or some other color that pleases their taste.”12


FIGURE 8.6 Federico Zuccaro, Coiffure at the Savoy Court. Etching (90 × 88 mm). From Federico Zuccaro, Il passaggio per Italia, con la dimora di Parma del Sig. Cavaliere Federico Zuccaro, 1608.


FIGURE 8.7 Andrea del Verrocchio, Head of a Woman, c. 1475. Black chalk heightened with white chalk (325 × 272 mm). British Museum, London.

Federico’s attention to hair is not unusual in and of itself in the context of early modern art theory. Leonardo, for instance, dedicates a number of passages in his treatise on painting to the proper depiction of hair: flowing in the wind to express the glory of victors in a battle scene, manipulated to be “rich and flat, long and short” to introduce varietà in a composition, “torn and scattered” to convey desperation. Artists’ drawings from the early modern period place a great emphasis on studying and arranging strands, knots, and curls of hair, as seen in Andrea del Verrocchio’s Head of a Woman (c. 1475) to give but one eminent precedent (fig. 8.7). Federico’s interest in coiffure, however, seems intrinsic rather instrumental, a sight to be seen for itself instead of a stylistic component to be mastered for a convincing figural representation. The accompanying print is more illustrative ethnography than primo pensiero of a design for eventual inclusion in a composition. Nowhere in Il passaggio does Federico acknowledge that this spectacle of coiffure may have informed his depictions of the Savoyard princesses for the chief project executed while abroad, the painting decoration for the Galleria Grande of Carlo Emanuele I.13


FIGURE 8.8 Francesco di Giorgio Martini, “Ionic column,” Codex Saluzziano 148, f. 14v. Biblioteca Reale, Turin.

This does not mean that hair occupies a rank of secondary visual allure for Federico. Baldinucci in his dictionary on the visual arts may have strictly associated invenzione with the capacity of artists to represent their compositions with “clarity and appropriateness.” Even so, Federico borrows this term so often employed in the fields of rhetoric, art, and music to characterize the ornate ensemble of hairstyles. His intricate prose, the layering and interweaving of one relative clause into another, mimics the complex constructions themselves. Federico’s language even verges on conceiving Turinese coiffures as architectural pieces in their own right. His use of terms such as sommità (summit) and palmo—the standard unit of measurement based on the palm of a hand—point toward a notion of hairdressing as an architectonic structure. The sequence of temporal adjectives that assist the reader to envision the makeup of the hairpieces (primo, poi, talhora) recalls the language of Vignola, among other theorists, as he describes the processes step by step by which the eye and hand scan and construct volutes. Furthermore, the likening of architectural ornament to coiffure was an analogy of old. Vitruvius likens the ornament of the Ionic column to “graceful curling hair” (4.1.7), a comparison made manifest in a drawing found in one of Francesco di Giorgio’s many architectural manuscripts, the Codex Saluzziano 148, which makes an explicit connection between volutes and hair (fig. 8.8). The capitals as seen in Vignola’s exposition of the Ionic order might even be understood as bearing a resemblance to curls of hair (fig. 8.9). It is in this vein that at the far end of the early modern spectrum, Francesco Eugenio Guasco in his Delle ornatrici, e de’ loro uffizii (1775), a catalogue of classical Roman hairstyles, announces that his work will provide the reader with “the innumerable ways of building [architettare] the head ... the bizarre method of capillary architecture [architettura capillare]” as practiced by the ancients.14


The associations between coiffure and architecture stubbornly remain at the level of suggestion, never reaching definitive declaration. Federico’s metaphorical thinking betrays his background in the visual arts, yet at the same time hair maintains its status as observed phenomenon rather than as an aspect for future inclusion in his artistic repertoire. This implicit disavowal of mobility’s impact on style constitutes a novel and extreme form of artistic subjectivity, a move away from an exclusive focus on the artist’s eyes and hands in favor of emphasizing the existence of his other senses and bodily operations. Granted, in the wake of humanist commentary on Aristotle’s On Sense and Sensible Objects, Federico’s art literary predecessors had located the core of the artist’s intellect, and for that matter his very selfhood, within the power of sight. Leonardo argues for the supremacy of vision over hearing to bolster his assertion for painting’s command over poetry. Vasari in the technical treatise on architecture famously states that the correct arrangement of the orders relies foremost on the eye, “which, if it has judgment, can hold the true compass and measurements, since by it alone works are praised and criticized.” Armenini declares that the “eye is the most perfect among the exterior senses,” and repeats the statement that the artist’s compass exists in his eye rather than in his hand, a dictum which he attributes to Michelangelo, thus giving his opinion a measure of authority. But what of the other senses identified by Aristotle in On the Soul,the sensorial faculties of hearing, touch, smell, and taste?15


FIGURE 8.9 Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, “Ionic Order.” From Regole delli cinque ordini, 1572.

In the Lives, Vasari praises the musical talents of Leonardo, Giorgione, Fra Bartolommeo, Pordenone, and Sebastiano del Piombo, among others. But in respect to other senses, such as that of taste, the Lives often assumes a less than favorable posture toward the consumption of food. Vasari takes the painter Mariotto Albertinelli as an example of an artist with “a most restless character and carnal in matters of love and of the good time [to be had] in the affairs of living.” Wounded by the attacks lodged upon him by his fellow artists, Albertinelli abandons painting to open an osteria and tavern. Having racked his brains imitating flesh and blood, he now made both, and along with enjoying these, partook of wine and heard only praise. Albertinelli, however, soon grows ashamed of the baseness of this calling and returns to pursue the course of painting. Not all artists are saved from their appetites. Vasari describes a collaborator of Guillaume de Marcillat, a certain Claudio Franzese, as “much disordered in eating and drinking, as is the custom of that people.” Due to these insalubrious habits, the Frenchman becomes afflicted with a fever and dies within a span of six days. In contrast to such gluttonous figures, Vasari’s paragons of living, such as Brunelleschi, are frequently abstemious, “not caring for sleep or drink,” devoting themselves wholeheartedly to their art.16

Federico, however, exhibits no qualms about taking food and drink as a major theme in Il passaggio. Directly addressing Casella as the recipient of his letter, he describes the elaborate culinary display he witnesses, and presumably also samples, at the festivities held at the Savoy court. As a sort of virtual aperitif, Federico offers his recipient “to nibble upon something sweet” and partake some wine, white or red, malvasia, or moscatello, or perhaps something local, the “appetizing, odiferous, and gracious wines that here in Piedmont are most excellent.” He then invites Casella to enter the site of the feast itself: “See how these tables are full and covered with confections, take some as you wish; and with things such as pastries, pies, a thousand types of tarts, gilt and silvered, and a sumptuously decorated table at the head, middle, and sides, it is truly worthy of a royal celebration. See these whole veals, goats, large roasted venison, and how large they are, in the antique manner of the Greeks and Romans, look at the sumptuous and curled horns, gilt on this deer, the silvered ones of this goat, and of that calf, and all stuffed with cloves and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon; see these beautiful oranges and citrons that these great beasts have in their mouths, does it not whet your appetite to see them?”17

Far from being a famished wayfarer in the Land of Cockaigne, Federico manifests an interest in food on par with that seen in firsthand accounts by Bronzino, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, and Cellini, some of whom even remark on their eating habits or culinary specialties sampled in the course of their travels. Yet Federico does not demonstrate a stake in the construction and design of these foodstuffs. This indifference to the labor of assembling these displays stands in contrast to the widespread practice of commissioning court artists to assemble displays of food at festivals and celebrations. In his treatise on gastronomic celebrations, Banchetti (1549), the master of ceremonies at the Ferrarese court, Cristoforo da Messisbugo, notes that at a dinner Alfonso I hosted in honor of his sister, Isabella d’Este, the dessert spread featured twenty-five sculptures made out of sugar, “gilded and painted, with complexions that seemed alive.” While these statues, some two feet high, remained standing on the banqueting table, other sugar sculptures could fall apart in the hand of the spectator. At one reception during his visit to Venice in 1574, King Henry III of France sat down at table, only to realize that the “table linens, plates, knives, forks and bread” were all made of sugar, to the delight of the monarch and his entourage. Also eliciting a wealth of description were the sugar sculptures designed and crafted by Giambologna and Pietro Tacca for the nuptials of Marie de’ Medici and Henri IV of France on 5 October 1600. During the celebratory feast, sugar sculptures representing mythological subject matter and measuring some four feet high filled the Salone del Cinquento in the Palazzo Vecchio. Tacca himself was well aware of the manual labor such delicate ephemeral works of art required. On being asked to execute once again sugar sculptures for the festivities held to celebrate the marriage between Cosimo II de’ Medici and Maria Maddalena of Austria in October 1608, Tacca hesitated. In a letter dated months before, on 28 July, the sculptor wrote the Grand Duchess Christina that realizing these works was no easy task. Selecting and supervising the appropriate workers to fashion these objects was not enough. Tacca pointed out that “to achieve clean and beautiful results it was also necessary to work with his own hands with not a little diligence.”18

By contrast, exhibiting his social standing and awareness of luxury, Federico’s appreciation of the buffet is that of an invited spectator and participant. His observations are centered on the pleasure offered not only to the sense of sight, as the repetition of the imperative veda makes clear, but to the sense of taste as well. The number of wines listed exhibits his awareness of the regional varieties available in Piedmont in addition to their diverse flavors and aromas. He is rapt at the savory, sweet, and spicy, in the game flavored with cloves, cinnamon, and sugar, combinations suited to Galenic regulation of the humors and particular to aristocratic tables. Even so, Federico’s ekphrasis also calls attention to the blurry distinctions between sight and taste that inform his act of perception and being. While he celebrates the abundant number of baked goods, his exclamation also seems to issue from the fact that their multitude defines the shape of the table itself (“in capo, in mezo, et dai lati”). And as the question that ends the passage makes clear, the act of seeing is understood to stimulate the very act of eating.19


But what of Federico’s response to his foreign destinations and its possible imprint on his style, the query that has guided the present investigation up to this point? Given that the discourse of mobility in the writings of Vasari, Dolce, Armenini, and others consistently speculated on the question of style, are we not justified in expecting Federico in turn to enter the fray? Yet for all of his interest in visual phenomena such as hairpieces or triumphant displays of foodstuffs, Federico remains intriguingly taciturn concerning the relevance of being abroad on his mode of painting. If we reconsider the tone of the sixteenthcentury discourse surrounding mobility, some patterns underlying Federico’s reticence emerges.

Recall, for instance, the generally negative attitude toward mobility and stylistic change Vasari exhibits in the Lives. The advent of both the maniera greca and maniera tedesca is likened to foreign invasion, infection, and catastrophic deluge. Giotto disseminates rather than adapts his style in the locations where he is employed. Donatello flees Padua due to fear of amnesia, and even one of his contemporaries remarked that the sculptor desired to return to Tuscany for fear of dying among “Paduan frogs.” True, Vasari hardly censures travel to Rome and Florence, but in the case of the greatest artists, such as Michelangelo, the journey to Rome has little bearing on his style, as his genius is determined by celestial influence. Furthermore, varietà—the term that most favorably accounts for the link between mobility and stylistic change—reaches its most articulate formulation more in regard to allegorical movement, as in the case of Raphael’s modo mezzano, and less in respect to actual journeys to geographically specific locations, though the two types of mobility are intertwined. This same ambivalence toward mobility and subsequent metamorphosis of style, an ambivalence that often tilts toward disapproval of physical displacement, has also been diagnosed in Dolce’s Dialogo,particularly regarding the ridiculously “befeathered” manner of Sebastiano del Piombo. And however much Armenini stresses the requisite journey to Rome, he does not guarantee that the plethora of works both ancient and modern to be studied will not overwhelm, confuse, or entrap the young artist. It goes without saying how often these writers delve into the distressing consequences of and reasons for mobility. Recall Vasari’s Life of Ambrogio Lorenzetti, which depicts the Sienese artist having to relinquish his homeland to receive due recognition, or Armenini’s own biography, where he reports having to depart from Rome due to adverse political circumstances.20

These writers who bewail the misfortune of traveling are a far cry from Federico, who journeys, according to the author of the dedication to Il passaggio, “with so much applause of the world.” This firsthand travel account would have been moving into uncertain lexical territory if Federico had in fact chosen to broach the issue of style, the manual action of his hand and brush, in relation to his own celebrated voyages. Nor would the web of keywords surrounding the concept of imitatio apply to the particular stage of his career. As the Early Life of Taddeo demonstrates, imitatio’s semantic cousins, terms such as studio, studiare, imparare, and osservazione, occur in relation to the case of the elder brother’s early education and apprenticeship. Il passaggio, however, represents the traveling artist writing at an advanced age, published one year before Federico’s death in 1609. That Federico is taciturn regarding style does not mean that he passes over the works he executes in the course of his northern Italian journey in silence. He offers an extensive description of his activity in Turin, where in 1605–7 he frescoed the gallery linking the palace of Carlo Emanuele I and the Palazzo Madama. As in the passages portraying the foodstuffs to be had at the banquets held at the Savoy court, Federico directly addresses the reader of this description, almost as though to render all the more vividly the abundance of his decorative work:

Now what remains is to tell you the subject [soggetto] of this most noble Gallery, and how much it pleases His Highness that it is done. Know, therefore, that in the vault which is constructed in a barrel form, are 48 celestial images with their stars arranged in order; below these are astronomical histories in a compartment in which I executed many things gathered together: figures, imprese, grotesques, histories that render rich and graceful this compartment along with some backgrounds with fictive perspectives, where the 48 celestial images are placed; on the sides below the cornice ... that line the entire Gallery are placed in the 32 spaces between the 32 windows 32 Princes on horseback from that most serene household of Savoy, and each of these spans between window to window measures 37 palmi and half of a Roman canna, and the breadth of the Gallery, is 34 palmi.21

Federico’s description of the gallery’s decorations with their myriad genres, the organization of the prose into lists, the focus on the measurements and the expanse covered shifts the emphasis of this passage from initially informing the reader about a discretesoggetto to demonstrating instead a pictorial cornucopia. This visual profusion continues in the subsequent pages: Federico specifies that the princes depicted on horseback are accompanied by landscapes and the imprese of the cities and castles that constitute their domains, together with identifying inscriptions. On the opposite ends of the gallery, he paints two more princes on horseback “with their portraits, costumes and their armors, according to the times and customs.” Along the cornice, he also executes representations of pontiffs and emperors with “trophies, candelabra, and other things on the sides of the said Pontiffs and Emperors, and everything [being] copious and full of majesty which is befitting.” Meanwhile, the rest of the gallery comprises a veritable microcosm. Mathematical diagrams cover the mosaic pavement, the windows depict a cosmography of the world, and in the lower zones near these windows are portrayed “all sorts of four-footed animals, and birds here and there spread over the niches and festoons, in addition to sea creatures depicted in the mosaic in the pavement.” Federico concludes, “In truth I do not know with what other [things] one could equal the noble ideas and the variety of the subjects to nourish the eye and the mind.” Elsewhere, in his Idea, Federico described the gallery in similar terms, as “a compendium of all the things in the world.” As Julian Kliemann has shown, Pompeo Brambilla in the Relatione delle feste ..., his account of the nuptials between Margherita of Savoy and Francesco Gonzaga, called the gallery a “little world” replete with “histories, stories, books, sculptures, and paintings.” Yet another report from the wedding celebrations also mentions the abundance of paintings, the polychrome incrustations, and books “collected from all parts of the world, Greek, Latin, vernacular, French, Spanish, and other idioms.”22

But what of style, not what is depicted, but how Federico draws upon his knowledge of visual idioms practiced throughout the Italian peninsula such that, as James Mundy has put it, his style can be compared to “a visual form of Esperanto ... equally at home in Rome, Venice, or Madrid”? Testaments of his response and adherence to Venetian style can be seen in his work for the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Palazzo Ducale, his Barbarossa Making Obeisance to the Pope recalling the coloring, dense figural composition, and architectural representation of Paris Bordone’s contributions to the hall (see fig. 6.17; fig. 8.10). In a number of so-called Reisezeichnungen, or travel drawings, he executed works after Giorgione, Raphael, Barocci, Correggio, and others during his journeys across Italy and Europe throughout his career. His drawing after Giulio Romano’s Fall of the Giants in Mantua makes use of the black chalk’s softness to dissolve boundaries between collapsing architecture and bodies, creating a blurry heap of figures. An intimacy between artist and object of study characterizes the drawing of Michelangelo’s New Sacristy of San Lorenzo: here members of the Accademia del Disegno discuss, draw after, and even climb on and touch the divine artist’s monumental sculptures (fig. 8.11). But in Il passaggio itself, Federico is taciturn about wielding his drawing implements on the road. To be sure, Federico briefly informs Casella about the working conditions in Turin to convey a fleeting impression of diligence: the painter has been able to work on the gallery for the three months leading to the Christmas celebrations with help brought from Rome, drawing designs and cartoons next to the fire due to the cold, snow, and ice that besiege the Piedmont region. In the letter to Federico Barocci, he even complains about the quality of the local assistance available: “I go continuing this work with the help that one can have in these parts, who often increase the toil rather than lighten the burden.”23

If looking for Federico’s manner of execution, extant visual evidence in the form of preparatory drawings does offer a sense of the gallery’s appearance before the frescoes were destroyed in a fire that consumed the palace in 1659. A drawing of the vault which shows heavily foreshortened figures of astronomers peering over an illusionistic cornice testifies to a rapport with the fictive dome par excellence, that of Mantegna’s Camera degli Sposi in Mantua, one of the Federico’s destinations on his northern Italian journey (fig. 8.12). Furthermore, sketches for the ducal equestrian portraits have also been likened to painted versions of the equestrian statues designed by Verrocchio and Donatello, or analogues with other representations of monarchs on horseback that existed in a variety of media—wooden sculpture, paintings, drawings, and prints—with which Federico may have well been familiar (fig. 8.13). Closer to Federico’s own time, Giambologna’s workshop provided a bronze statuette that most likely served as a model for an equestrian statue Carlo Emanuele I had planned to erect of himself near the main gate of the Piazza Castello.24


FIGURE 8.10 Federico Zuccaro, Barbarossa Making Obeisance to the Pope, 1582. Fresco, Sala del Maggior Consiglio, Palazzo Ducale, Venice. Department of Graphic Arts, Louvre, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre).


FIGURE 8.11 Federico Zuccaro, Artists Drawing after Michelangelo in the Medici Chapel. Black chalk and sanguine (20 cm × 26.3 cm). © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre).

Yet the question persists—why does Federico remain stubbornly reticent about maniera, so frequent a theme in the tradition of art literature, which he employs during his sojourns abroad? One possible response might play to the expectations of audience. As previously mentioned, Pierleone Casella, the addressee of the longest epistle in Il passaggio, was a friend of Cesare Ripa and a savant familiar with erudite subject matter. Correspondingly, Federico’s emphasis on the soggetti in the gallery would have befitted the interests of this recipient. However, by the same logic, we would expect Federico’s letters to Federico Barocci and Giambologna to display a marked concern for style. Yet in his letter to Barocci, Federico is largely occupied with declaring the need for recreation in his advanced age, the magnificent views from his accommodations in Turin, and the delight he derives from the court’s instrumentalists: “We eat and sleep to the sound of perpetual music.” Similarly, the letter to Giambologna takes otium, and notnegotium, as its primary subject. Here, mobility is valued for its own sake, shorn of instrumental valence for the diffusion, rejection, or incorporation of style. Federico even delights in the sensation of movement itself as when he describes a sleigh guided by horses “flying like the wind.” The accompanying etching shows the sleigh in profile, described as being half the size of a Venetian gondola’s prow, with the needle pricked into the wax ground to indicate the swirls of the sled’s path in the ice (fig. 8.14).25


FIGURE 8.12 Federico Zuccaro, Constellations and Other Astronomical Figures for the Vault of the Galleria Grande in Torino, c. 1605. Pen and brown ink. Castello Sforzesco, Milan.

Federico’s stay in Turin also begets the experience of virtual travel, as evoked by the view from his room of the gardens that conjure meditations on cartography on a global scale: “At the window of my Paradise ... I embark hour by hour on one of these rivers, and at my ease I now find myself in the Great Sea towards the East, now in the North, and now in the Tyrrhenian to the South and towards the West, and sometimes I even progress towards the East through the Adriatic Sea, and in this way, enjoying myself by thinking of the diversity of the peoples and countries of the world, I travel far without departing from where I am.” Federico goes on to invite Giambologna to enjoy “the taste and pleasure I feel in this place adorned with beautiful and singular views.” Toward the end of the letter itself he reiterates the offer—“Here I would like [you] Giambologna to be able to enjoy yourself at your leisure”—and even extends the proposal to a contingent of artists including Domenico Passignani, Giovan Maria Casini, and Santi di Tito.26

Through such passages, Federico modifies the terms of the question that writers on art and artists themselves had heretofore probed with insistence. Instead of considering the impact of mobility on style, Federico seems more engaged with narrating the role of travel in enhancing his status as a universally praised artist, “to so much applause of the world.” The question of any possible correlation between mobility and stylistic change assumes the representation of the traveling artist as a working artist, as a practitioner whose purpose in displacing himself is the execution of style. However, Il passaggio, in refraining from the overly manual aspects of maniera, or maniera itself, conceives Federico as a traveling gentleman. As though following the directives of manuals that instructed early modern aristocrats how to travel, Federico limits his optic to observe visual phenomena and engage his other senses, without stating through verbal means how he might have converted what he has witnessed into stylistic currency. How Federico mentions in passing the wide range of sights he enjoys is akin to the descriptive method in Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), which breezily recommends the diverse places available to the traveler’s purview: “The sight of such a Palace as that ofEscuriall in Spaine . . . the Popes Belvedere in Rome . . . a Gundilo through the grand Canale in Venice, to see those goodly Palaces, must needs refresh and give content to a melancholy dull spirit.” And as was advised to gentlemen on the road, Federico observes the spectacles that take place in his destinations while at the same time avoiding any semblance of modifying style or even his behavior to such foreign destinations. The humanist Justus Lipsius stated as much in his De ratione cum fructu peregrinandi,a brief though widely diffused sixteenth-century treatise on the art of traveling. “We do not mock but once,” he declares, “this sort of clown, who having freshly returned from France and Italy, ridiculously intertwines antics with preciousness.” The self, not style alone, occupies the subject of Federico’s letters. True, he ends his work by evoking the concept of varietà through recourse to the proverb per molto variar Natura è bella (Nature is beautiful due to varying much). But in this case, varietà remains a sight seen at a distance rather than a term with stylistic import. It is also no surprise that the portrait Federico composed of himself at this time displays the three medals and golden chains he received during his northern Italian tour, like so many souvenirs collected on a voyage (fig. 8.15).27


FIGURE 8.13 Federico Zuccaro, Study for an Equestrian Portrait, c. 1605. Pen and brown ink (15.5 cm × 17.0 cm). Department of Graphic Arts, Louvre, Paris. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Madeleine Coursaget.


FIGURE 8.14 Federico Zuccaro, “Sleigh Ride,” 1606. Etching. From Federico Zuccaro, Il passaggio per Italia, con la dimora di Parma del Sig. Cavaliere Federico Zuccaro, 1608.


FIGURE 8.15 Federico Zuccaro, Self-Portrait, 1604. Oil on canvas. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

In the account most suited to delving into the thorny pact between mobility and style, Federico in Il passaggio subdues the emergence of a contemporary vocabulary for “influence” which had up to this point so often reared its head. Shifting attention from the mechanics of the hand to the sensorial body, Federico locates the cultural activity of the traveling artist in a moving, breathing, and consuming body. He and his text thus propose a method for thinking about works of art and the artist in an enlarged cultural spectrum, one that considers not only style, but also individual aesthetic taste. Significantly, this “transport” calls for the deployment of methods and conversation with disciplines not conventionally at the disposal of the art historian. The consequences of mobility are displaced from the domain of artistic labor proper and transferred to the arena of the everyday and human subjectivity at large.

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