The Barberini tapestries of the Life of Pope Urban VIII: Program, politics and "perfect history" for the post-exile era [electronic resource].

Harper, James Gordon.
855 p.
Contained In:
Dissertation Abstracts International 59-11A.

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Art -- History.
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Penn dissertations -- History of art. (search)
History of art -- Penn dissertations. (search)
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
The tapestry series of the Life of Urban VIII, masterminded by Pietro da Cortona and executed under the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini between 1663 and 1679, must be acknowledged as a central monument of the Roman High Baroque age. Heroic in scale, decoratively complex, and consisting of over forty different panels, the series mixes history and allegory to present an idealized portrait of Urban and his pontificate (1623--1644). The patron clearly intended the images to rehabilitate the reputation of not only his uncle but also the entire family, whose popularity and influence had reached a nadir during their years of exile (1645--1653). This dissertation is the first full iconographic and contextual study of the tapestries.
Chapter One introduces the cycle, placing it in the context of the post-exile history of the Barberini family. The design and production of the series are the focus of Chapter Two, while Chapter Three turns to the development of the program. Chapter Four explores the two-hundred year old tradition of the papal biographical cycle: defining the characteristics of this underexplored genre is an important step towards understanding how its traditions influenced the planners of the tapestry series. Chapter Five, examining the narratives one by one, forms the core of the dissertation. Historical accounts, documents and court panegyrics assist in the reconstruction of the meaning of each scene.
The final chapter considers the matter of installation, situating the tapestries in the real space and time of late seventeenth century Rome. When hung in the salone at the Palazzo Barberini, the primary locus of display for which the series was designed, the tapestries become a continuation of Pietro da Cortona's Divine Providence vault fresco. Conversely, the content of the ceiling becomes an important component of the meaning of the tapestries. Reconstructive installation leads not only a rethinking of the tapestry series, but also a rethinking of the vault and its reception by the Barberini circle in the later seventeenth century. Alone, but especially in tandem with the vault, the Life of Urban VIII functions as a powerful engine of family propaganda.
Thesis (Ph.D. in History of Art) -- University of Pennsylvania, 1998.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-11, Section: A, page: 3991.
Supervisor: Malcolm Campbell.
Local notes:
School code: 0175.
Campbell, Malcolm, advisor
University of Pennsylvania.
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Restricted for use by site license.