Theses Doctoral

Artistic Patrimony and Cultural Politics in Early Seicento Venice

Zarrillo, Taryn Marie

In the period following the Cinquecento Renaissance, contemporary seventeenth century Venetian artists were presented with two enormous challenges. The first was to attempt to reinterpret their visual tradition within a shifting political climate without declining into an overt stylistic retrospection. The second was to try and retain a semblance of the personification of state identity—those qualities that had been established and distinguished by Venetian art in the Cinquecento —and which were present in the visual patrimony of paintings and drawings. Carlo Ridolfi, art critic and author of Le maraviglie dell’Arte (1648) eloquently stated the problem in his biography of Giovanni Contarino, a student of Titian’s, when he praised the work of the Cinquecento masters as the epitome of artistic production to the extent that he says, “it is with reason that one could use as motto the two columns of Hercules with the words: “Ultra quid faciam?" it is in fact vain to pretend better examples, and rarer beautiful things could be made.” This dissertation considers two parallel issues at work: the stylistic legacy of Cinquecento Venetian masters and their importance in the work of their Seicento heirs, and the purposeful dissolution and sale of collections of work by those masters during the seventeenth century. The business activities of art dealers Marco Boschini (1602/5—1681), Paolo del Sera (1614—1672) and their associates are examined alongside their perceptions and criticisms of Cinquecento and Seicento artistic production, and the voracious appetite of English collectors for Venetian pictures in the opening decades of the seventeenth century is considered. Exploring the situations—political (the artist), economic (the dealer), and social (the patron)—present in Venice during the early seventeenth century and their direct relation to the perceived aesthetics of a cultural legacy, this project provides a reassessment of how established value sets in Venetian art were considered successful or not within their cultural context, and how those stylistic evaluations affected artists working in Venice during the early Seicento.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Zarrillo_columbia_0054D_13247.pdf Zarrillo_columbia_0054D_13247.pdf application/pdf 20.4 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Rosand, David
Bodart, Diane
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 19, 2016