Religious Poverty, Visual Riches


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Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

Joanna Cannon

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The Dominican friars of late-medieval Italy were committed to a life of poverty, yet their churches contained many visual riches, as this groundbreaking study reveals. Works by supreme practitioners—Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, and Simone Martini—are examined here in a wider Dominican context. The contents of major foundations—Siena, Pisa, Perugia, and Santa Maria Novella in Florence—are studied alongside less well-known centers. For the first time, these frescoes and panel paintings are brought together with illuminated choir books, carved crucifixes, goldsmith's work, tombs, and stained glass. At the heart of the book is the Dominicans' evolving relationship with the laity, expressed at first by the partitioning of their churches, and subsequently by the sharing of space, and the production and use of art. Joanna Cannon's magisterial study is informed by extensive new research, using chronicles, legislation, liturgy, sermons, and other sources to explore the place of art in the lives of the friars and the urban laity of Central Italy.

Joanna Cannon is reader in the history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

“[An]outstanding book which show how art can change the world [and] demonstrates, through an intelligent combination of visual and historical research, the transformative role of art and architecture within this revolutionary process. . . . The Franciscans’ sister order of preaching friars, the followers of St Dominic, is the subject of Joanna Cannon’s ground-breaking and . . . richly illustrated study.”—Gervase Rosser, Apollo Magazine
Religious Poverty, Visual Riches lives up to its title: this is a copiously detailed notes and an extensive bibliography. It is a delight to turn the pages and encounter such beauty in so any forms.'—Christopher Colven, The Art Newspaper

‘[An] experienced art historian. Joanna Cannon. . .this volume arrives with the mien of a magnum opus, prepared over many years.’—Alexander Murray, TLS

‘In this exceptional study, frescoes are examined in the context of their original surroundings - the illumined choir books, crucifixes, goldsmiths’ work, tombs and stained glass that complemented them.’—Apollo Magazine.

"[Cannon's] careful consideration of a wealth of visual and documentary sources sheds new light on the Dominican contribution to the visual riches of the period considered the dawn of the Renaissance. . . . An essential study of the art of the early Renaissance, one that is at once timely and promises to stand the test of time."—Holly Flora, Renaissance Quarterly

"This book . . . represents the achievement of a lifetime. . . . This unpublished goldmine of information now appears here thoroughly reogranized, freshly thought through, and wonderfully instantiated in a huge bibliography. . . . One must salute this long and courageous work. It is a beautiful book, as well as being accurate and trustworthy in detail. . . . [A] monumental achievement."—Serena Romano, Renaissance Quarterly
ISBN: 9780300187656
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
456 pages, 9 x 11
80 color + 200 b/w illus.
Simone Martini in Orvieto

Edited by Nathaniel Silver; With contributions by Machtelt

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