To Each His (or Her) Own: Piero di Cosimo’s Bacchanals for the Palazzo Vespucci

by Bryn Schockmel, Boston University

Piero di Cosimo’s The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus are two of the only works by the artist with a firm provenance. Completed around 1500, the pair of spalliera paintings were commissioned by a member of the Vespucci family to celebrate a marriage. As the paintings’ original location is known, the Palazzo Vespucci, it is possible to develop theories regarding the significance these material objects would have held for the original intended audience, the bride and groom. It is my assertion that the paintings held one set of specific meanings for the husband and his male guests, while concurrently impacting the young wife in a very different manner.

Piero di Lorenzo di Piero d’Antonio was born January 2, 1462, most likely in Florence, to a blacksmith father.  Little is known about his life, and most of his artwork remains undocumented.  Giorgio Vasari paints a colorful picture of the artist, though many of his anecdotes are likely fantastical exaggerations.  It is known that Piero studied under Cosimo Rosselli, from whom he took his surname.  Vasari writes that Piero travelled with his master to Rome to assist with the frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel, stating that Piero painted the landscape background in the Sermon on the Mount.[i]  It is unclear whether or not this particular story is true. Many modern scholars doubt its authenticity; if the account is factual it would be the only documented time that Piero left his native Florence.[ii]  Throughout his life, Piero di Cosimo appears to have been a prominent, and sought-after, artist in Florence, fulfilling contracts for the Strozzi, Pugliese, and Vespucci families. Piero was known for his professionalism, always completing his commissions.[iii]  Vasari, however, describes Piero as a somewhat crazy recluse.  Though Vasari’s stories about Piero do not seem to be based in fact, they persisted well into the twentieth century, with Erwin Panofsky similarly stating that Piero preferred to live by himself and was a bit mad.  Panofsky goes so far as to praise Vasari’s “convincing psychological portrait” of the artist.[iv]  Piero di Cosimo died in 1522, at the age of 60, seemingly of the plague.[v]

Honey
Piero di Cosimo, The Discovery of Honey by Bacchus, c.1499, oil on panel, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA

 

Piero di Cosimo appears to have had a preference for painting on panels rather than frescoes.  The majority of his works are either commissions of religious subjects for private devotion or secular paintings for domestic settings.[vi]  Of the 50 or so paintings attributable to Piero di Cosimo, 18 have secular subjects, with the majority of those drawing their material from Classical mythology.[vii]  Ovid was certainly a font of inspiration for a number of Piero’s paintings; Lucretius may also have served as source.[viii]  In these domestic paintings, with their relatively limited exposure compared to large-scale public monuments, Piero had the freedom to be more adventurous, in terms of both subject matter and style.[ix]  At times, his works are even quite playful and comedic, as is certainly the case in the Bacchanals, which shall be the main focus of this paper.[x]

Silence
Piero di Cosimo, The Misfortunes of Silenus, c.1500, oil on panel, Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA.

The storie baccanarie paintings, as they are called by Vasari, are comprised of The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus, today in the Worcester Art Museum and Harvard Art Museums, respectively.[xi]  These two works are among the only paintings in Piero’s oeuvre that can be firmly linked to a specific patron:  the two spalliera paintings were almost certainly commissioned by a member of the Vespucci family, around the year 1500.  They would have been displayed in the Palazzo Vespucci in Florence, likely in the camera (bedroom).  The textual source behind the subject matter, as first noted by Panofsky, is Book III of Ovid’s Fasti.[xii]  The imagery closely follows the text, though Piero made some changes and added certain embellishments.

In the first of the pair, The Discovery of Honey, which dates from circa 1500, we find Bacchus and his entourage discovering (or perhaps more accurately, actively searching for) honey.[xiii]  As Ovid recounts the story, Bacchus and his satyr and nymph followers were walking along, clanging cymbals and other instruments, to rouse the bees and thus lead them to the honey.  Here the musical instruments are replaced with domestic household items, but with a similar effect:  the bees swarm out of their honeycomb attached to the tree in the center of the painting, revealing the honey to Bacchus and the others.[xiv] The main identifiable figures are Bacchus and Ariadne at the right, and Silenus, approaching the tree, riding a donkey.

In The Misfortunes of Silenus, Silenus takes center stage as he attempts to find honey on his own, but instead discovers a nest of wasps.  Here we have a true narrative, with the figure of Silenus repeated three times.  In the center, Silenus searches for honey in the old tree, only to be stung by a number of wasps, resulting in a fall from his donkey.  At the right satyrs attempt to help Silenus to his feet.  On the left the story continues, as they apply mud to help soothe his stings.  Here, too, the tale has been borrowed from Ovid’s Fasti.  This work is in a much worse state of repair than its pendant:  it was possibly left unfinished, and certainly heavily restored to remove the original rather explicit states of arousal of a number of the satyrs.[xv]  Like The Discovery of Honey, The Misfortunes of Silenus was painted around 1500 and is of a similar size.

Setting aside the dominant tree in the center of each work, the backgrounds are replete with landscape features.  Piero was known for his original and detailed landscapes, with the landscape itself frequently determining the layout of a painting.[xvi]  Many of these landscapes are quite different from those produced in Venice and other parts of Italy in the early sixteenth century, and seem to have more of a Flemish quality, like those of Hugo van der Goes.  Hugo’s famed Portinari Altarpiece arrived in Florence in May 1483 and had a profound affect on many Florentine artists—a function not only of his mastery of oil paint, but also his impressive and highly detailed landscapes.  Piero may very well have been influenced by the Portinari Altarpiece or other Northern works.[xvii]  The landscapes in his Bacchanals also have general connections to agriculture.  Bacchus, in addition to being the god of wine, was the god of grapes, and thus of vineyards and farming.  In Virgil’s Georgics, the author discusses the cultivation of bees, another type of agriculture.[xviii]

Tritons and Nereids
Piero di Cosmio, Tritons and Nereids, c.1505-1507, tempera on panel, Private Collection.

Two other works by Piero di Cosimo, each now in a private collection, are worth mentioning in relation to the Bacchanals.  Piero painted a pair of Tritons and Nereids, both long and thin, that may have been executed at the same time as the Bacchanals or, more likely, at a slightly later time, around 1505 or 1507.[xix]  The pair depict nereids (sea nymphs), satyrs, and tritons—classical creatures with the upper bodies of men, the tails of a fish or dolphin, and, occasionally, horse legs.  The two works are more of a frieze of characters than a true narrative.  They are relevant to a discussion of the Bacchanals as they, too, were displayed in the Vespucci Palace, likely alongside the Bacchanals.  They would have made for an intriguing grouping, with the terrestrial bacchanal thiasos contrasting with the marine thiasos found in the Tritons and Nereids. The inclusion of satyrs in the marine processional, an innovation on Piero’s part, would have further linked the two sets of paintings.[xx]

 

Tritons and Nereids4
Piero di Cosimo, Tritons and Nereids, c.1505-1507, tempera on panel, Private Collection.

 

Over the past century scholars have discerned a number of different meanings in Piero di Cosimo’s Bacchanals which are worth briefly examining here.  In a 1936/1937 article on The Discovery of Honey, Panofsky observed the distinct landscapes and features on either side of the large tree in the center of the composition.  He posited that to the right of the tree, with its dark and foreboding landscape, grey clouds, and twisting path up a treacherous hill, one finds man in his savage state, climbing trees, unrestrained.  On the left side of the tree one discerns a more civilized man:  an innocent pastoral scene, with a simple town in the background, the sun shining, and people processing in a neat, orderly fashion.  Panofsky coined the term “paysage moralisé” to refer to this kind of landscape.  He argued that, in this painting, honey is allegorical of a civilizing force, and that the scene reveals the advancement of mankind through small steps.[xxi]

More recent scholarship finds some trouble with Panofsky’s argument.  As a number of authors note, unlike the discovery of fire, for example, the discovery of honey is hardly a great civilizing achievement.[xxii]  Instead of interpreting the panels as moralizing works with great insight into humankind, some art historians simply view the paintings as playful, comedic entertainment.  There was certainly a taste for vulgar comedy among Renaissance Florentines, who would have enjoyed Silenus’ failed attempts to copy Bacchus and find honey on his own in The Misfortunes of Silenus.[xxiii]  That the paintings are humorous does not make them less intellectual or suitable for a humanist audience.  There are many examples of comedy and parody in Classical texts.[xxiv]  As entertaining works of art, the paintings still had the ability to provoke and challenge viewers.[xxv]  Piero has taken an ancient pastoral tale about the divine discovery of honey, and turned into something a bit more mischievous.[xxvi]

Though Panofsky’s reading has its merits, the more recent scholarship that focuses on the humor of the pieces, and what role they would have played for male viewers, in my opinion, perhaps comes closer to the artist’s original intent.  This is only part of the story, however.  To completely understand the function of the Bacchanals one must take into account where they were displayed, and the audience for whom they were intended, both male and female.  To do so, it is necessary to examine the patrons of the works—the Vespucci family.

The Vespucci were a prominent Florentine family in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and great patrons of the arts.  The family arrived in Florence from nearby Peretola.  The earliest Vespucci in Florence were wine sellers, not a particularly lofty profession.  By the late fourteenth century the Vespucci had risen to prominence:  Simone Vespucci, a silk manufacturer, was the first member of the family to gain wealth and status.  From 1434 onwards, the Vespucci regularly held office in Florence and had close ties with the Medici.[xxvii]  Amerigo Vespucci (1454 to 1512), an explorer for whom the Americas were named, is perhaps the most well-known member of the family.

In the second half of the fifteenth century, Guidantonio di Giovanni Vespucci (1436 to 1501) was a respected statesman, diplomat, and man of letters.  With his nephew, Amerigo, Guidantonio travelled to France as ambassador to King Louis XI.[xxviii]  After his return to Italy, Guidantonio served as the Florentine ambassador to the pope on multiple occasions in the 1480s and as ambassador to Charles VIII in Milan in the 1490s.[xxix]  On March 5, 1499, Guidantonio purchased the house on the Via de’ Servi where Piero di Cosimo’s Bacchanals were displayed.  The house had previously belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent, with Guidantonio acquiring the property from the Arte del Cambio (the Guild of Bankers).  In 1533, the house was sold to Piero Salviati.[xxx]

Less is known about Guidantonio’s son, Giovanni di Guidantonio Vespucci (1476 to 1549).  He is described as a “letterato e latinista,” so perhaps took after his father, who was known to be a very learned man.[xxxi]  In 1500, Giovanni married Namiciana di Benedetto Nerli, and most scholars agree that Piero’s Bacchanals were commissioned around the time of the marriage.[xxxii]  Vasari states that it was Giovanni who hired Piero to create the Bacchanals.[xxxiii]  More recent art historical scholarship suggests that it is likely that the father, Guidantonio, was the one who commissioned the works.[xxxiv]  Whether father or son ordered the paintings from Piero di Cosimo, The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus were almost certainly installed in the Palazzo Vespucci around the time of the Vespucci-Nerli marriage in 1500.  As a wedding gift for the bride and groom, the paintings would most likely have been displayed in the couple’s camera, or bedroom, within the Palazzo Vespucci.[xxxv]

Returning to the Bacchanals themselves, the panels are examples of spalliera painting, a type of material object that became part of the décor of a room.  The word spalliera can be quite difficult to define.  The root of spalliera comes from the Italian word for “shoulder,” conveying that spalliera were typically displayed at shoulder-level.  While the term spalliera could refer not just to paintings but also to decorative wooden wainscoting or even textiles, this paper shall concern itself solely with spalliera paintings.[xxxvi]  This type of art was used to decorate patrician homes during the Renaissance, most commonly from 1470 to 1515.[xxxvii]  Spalliera paintings were often purchased at the time of marriage.  Typically a period of three to six months passed from betrothal to marriage, and spalliera and other decorative objects were frequently commissioned during this time.[xxxviii]  Wedding spalliera paintings were usually ordered by the groom’s family, to decorate the new couple’s bedroom within the house of the groom’s father (in this instance, the Palazzo Vespucci).[xxxix]  Spalliera panels could also be displayed in the sala or anti-camera.[xl]

Spalliera paintings were intended to be viewed sequentially, and often contained a continuous landscape throughout.  The paintings were set within wooden wall paneling, between decorative pilasters or entablatures, or attached to or above various objects of furniture.[xli]  Frustratingly, inventories of the time usually describe only the subject matter of the works, making difficult reconstruction of the manner in which spalliera paintings were displayed.[xlii]  Piero di Cosimo executed a number of spalliera paintings, where, as works intended for private, domestic contexts, he had a greater degree of freedom to explore interesting subjects and experiment with new styles.[xliii]  The subject matter for these works could be sacred or secular, with Classical scenes and pastoral landscapes both common themes.[xliv]  The images were intended not only to be entertaining, but also instructive.[xlv]  For men, this could mean paintings of bravery, duty, and virtue, to encourage the groom to be a good husband.  For women, the panels might display the bride’s role as a loving wife, mother, and caretaker.[xlvi]

To understand the specific meanings of The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus we must consider the works as they would have been displayed as material objects in the Palazzo Vespucci, viewed by the new bride and groom.  The same pair of paintings, in my view, would have held vastly different meanings for the wife and the husband.  For Giovanni, the images emphasized his Vespucci lineage, his standing in society, and his general intellect and culture.  One of the main reasons the subject matter was chosen was the pun of the Vespucci family name. Vespa is the Italian word for wasp and the Vespucci coat of arms incorporated wasps.[xlvii]  In The Misfortunes of Silenus, Silenus attempts to find honey, but discovers a nest of wasps instead.[xlviii]  Clearly the wasp-related subject matter is meant to highlight Giovanni’s place in the Vespucci family and his pride in his lineage.  Bacchus may also be a reference to the first Vespucci in Florence, who were wine sellers.  Certain scholars have opined that The Discovery of Honey relates to the great discoveries made by Amerigo Vespucci.  As Amerigo’s accounts of his travels were not published until 1504 and 1505, this would suggest that the paintings were not commissioned at the time of Giovanni’s wedding—an unlikely scenario.[xlix]  However, the Tritons and Nereids paintings, with their nautical theme, may indirectly refer to Amerigo and his voyages.  These paintings, which appear to have been displayed with the Bacchanals, were commissioned at a slightly later date, around 1505 or 1507.  Regardless of whether the imagery makes reference to a specific Vespucci—Amerigo—it certainly, through the wasps, refers to the Vespucci family, and Giovanni’s lineage, in general.

Beyond highlighting his ancestry, the paintings would have served other functions for the groom as well.  That Giovanni (or perhaps his father, Guidantonio) could afford to commission such works of art comments on his status and wealth.[l]  It is important to remember that the camera, during the Renaissance, was not a private space as bedrooms are today.  The camera could have been a site of social functions and was a place where business was frequently conducted.[li]  Many visitors to the Palazzo Vespucci would have entered the camera and have seen Piero’s paintings.  The works were a symbol of luxury, and would have served to impress guests.

In addition to being a symbol of wealth and standing, the paintings would have displayed Giovanni’s intelligence and culture.  They were intended for sophisticated, curious, and wealthy guests—works that would entertain and perhaps enlighten.  The paintings highlight Giovanni’s humanist education, and would have afforded visitors an opportunity to expound on Ovid’s stories.  In The Misfortunes of Silenus in particular, only clever viewers would have understood that Ovid’s story had been told out of order (if one reads the work from left to right).  The paintings were conversation pieces, challenging the viewer, and reflecting positively on the intelligence of the host.[lii]  Notably, the room within the palace that contained Piero di Cosimo’s paintings was highly praised throughout the sixteenth century.[liii]

Turning to Namiciana, the bride, the same pair of paintings would have functioned in an entirely different manner.  On a basic level, the paintings would have been a form of escapism, a glimpse of an entertaining outside world for a woman who would have rarely been allowed to leave her husband’s home.[liv]  More significantly, the two paintings emphasized the roles that Namiciana was intended to fulfil:  that of loving wife and mother, and of caretaker and overseer of domestic affairs.  As Thomas Matthews first observed, much of the imagery in The Discovery of Honey relates to themes of love, marriage, and fertility.  At the right we have Bacchus and his wife, Ariadne, a figure who is not necessary for the story.  After wine, Bacchus’ secondary interest was love.  To the right sits Pan, holding an onion, an ancient aphrodisiac.  At the left are nymphs, creatures regarded as guardians of marriage, with other pairs of lovers nearby.[lv]  The entire scene could be read not simply as a quest for honey, but as a marriage processional, celebrating the love of Bacchus and Ariadne.

In addition to imagery of love and marriage, both paintings contain a number of scenes referencing the other new role Namiciana would be expected to embrace:  motherhood.  In The Discovery of Honey, at the left one finds a female satyr nursing a child.[lvi]  In The Misfortunes of Silenus, children are at play in the foreground.  In the first painting, the landscape in general is incredibly fertile, with lush vegetation and animals (bears, monkeys, a lion, a boar) in the background.  The dominant tree in the center of the composition, with its womb-shaped opening, seems to almost be birthing a young satyr.[lvii]  Piero utilizes the tree as the link between honey and love, two things that have been connected since antiquity and the writings of Sappho.  The artist may be wishing that the bride and groom have a married life that is fruitful and as sweet as honey.[lviii]  At the same time, however, when paired with The Misfortunes of Silenus, the artist conveys that love, though sweet as honey, is occasionally painful, like the sting of the wasp.[lix]

All of these details would remind Namiciana, in a playful but still instructive manner, of her role as wife and mother.  Another detail in The Discovery of Honey may emphasize an additional role she would have taken on as a married woman, that of overseer of domestic affairs in her husband’s home.  In Ovid’s telling of the story, Bacchus’ followers clang cymbals and other instruments to stir up the bees and alert them to the presence of honey.  Piero has deliberately deviated from the text, replacing musical instruments with pots and pans and other household items.[lx]  The fifth figure from the left holds a type of waffle iron that was used, among other purposes, to create wedding waffles.[lxi]  Piero has perhaps included these domestic items to instill in Namiciana her new role as caretaker and overseer in the Palazzo Vespucci.

In The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus, Piero di Cosimo succeeds in imbuing the paintings with two distinct sets of meanings.  In my conceptualization, for Giovanni, the paintings highlighted the groom’s Vespucci family lineage, emphasized his wealth and status, and provided a form of entertainment for Giovanni and his guests, allowing the men to assert their intelligence and humanist educations.  For the young bride, Namiciana, the spalliera paintings served a different function.  On the most basic level, the works would have offered a glimpse of an outside world that Namiciana would have had little opportunity to experience first-hand.  Perhaps more importantly, The Discovery of Honey and The Misfortunes of Silenus both provided, in a light-hearted yet still instructive manner, models of the new roles Namiciana would be taking on:  wife, mother, and manager of domestic affairs.  Piero di Cosimo succeeds brilliantly in creating a pair of paintings that at first glance appear to be playful and amusing, and yet on a deeper level, served very specific and distinct purposes for the bride and groom.

***

[i] Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 651.

[ii] Dennis Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions Beautiful and Strange (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2006), 14.

[iii] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 26.  None of Piero’s extant works were left unfinished, with the possible exception of The Misfortunes of Silenus, one of the subjects of this paper.

[iv] Erwin Panofsky, “The Early History of Man in a Cycle of Paintings by Piero di Cosimo,” Journal of the Warburg Institute Vol. 1, No. 1 (July, 1937):  29.

[v] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 18.

[vi] Sharon Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, Invention and Fantasìa (London:  Reaktion Books, 1993), 16.

[vii] Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, 41.

[viii] Alison Brown, “Lucretius and the Epicureans in the Social and Political Context of Renaissance Florence.” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance Vol. 9 (2001):  20.

[ix] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 78.

[x] Paul Barolsky, Infinite Jest: Wit and Humor in Italian Renaissance Art (Columbia:  University of Missouri Press, 1978), 46.

[xi] Vasari uses the word “some” to describe the paintings, implying that originally the series may have consisted of more than two works. See John Miller, “Piero Di Cosimo’s Ovidian Diptych,” Arion Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall, 2007):  7.

[xii] Patricia Emison, “The Paysage Moralisé,” Artibus et Historiae Vol. 16, No. 31 (1995):  131.

[xiii] The medium for the painting has alternatively been listed as oil on panel, tempera with oil glaze, and tempera and oil on panel. The most recent scholarship categorizes the painting as oil on panel.  See Gretchen Hirschauer and Dennis Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence (Washington, D.C.:  National Gallery of Art, 2015), 144.

[xiv] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 103.

[xv] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 101.  Some of this censoring seems to have been done by Piero himself, perhaps because the imagery was deemed inappropriate for the young bride (and groom) for whom the paintings were created. See Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 144.

[xvi] Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, 106 and 163.

[xvii] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 8 and Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, 175.

[xviii] Paul Barolsky, “As in Ovid, So in Renaissance Art,” Renaissance Quarterly Vol. 51, No. 2 (Summer, 1998):  465.  Another sign that the landscape is perhaps more tamed than originally appears is the large central tree in The Discovery of Honey.  This tree is not uncultivated but has, in fact, been pollarded, or trimmed, to allow for bushier growth.  See Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 21.

[xix] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 151.

[xx] Emison, “Paysage Moralisé,” 204.

[xxi] For Panofsky’s complete analysis, see Erwin Panofsky, “The “Discovery of Honey” by Piero di Cosimo,” Worcester Art Museum Annual Report II (1936-1937):  32-43.  See also R. Langton Douglas, Piero di Cosimo (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946), 63.

[xxii] Thomas Matthews, “Piero di Cosimo’s Discovery of Honey,” The Art Bulletin Vol. 45, No. 4 (December, 1963):  358-359.

[xxiii] Barolsky, Infinite Jest, 48.

[xxiv] Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, 85.

[xxv] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 18.

[xxvi] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 102.

[xxvii] Gene Brucker, Renaissance Florence (Los Angeles:  University of California Press, 1969), 95.

[xxviii] Andreas Höfele and Werner von Koppenfels, eds., Renaissance Go-Betweens: Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe (Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co., 2005), 126.

[xxix] Frederick Pohl, Amerigo Vespucci: Pilot Major (London:  Frank Cass and Company, 1944), 26.

[xxx] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 100.

[xxxi] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 82.

[xxxii] Anne Barriault, Spalliera Paintings of Renaissance Tuscany: Fables of Poets for Patrician Homes (University Park:  Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 152 and Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 100.

[xxxiii] Vasari, Lives, 657.

[xxxiv] R. Langton Douglas, “The Fall of Man by Piero di Cosimo,” The Burlington Magazine Vol. 86, No. 507 (June, 1945):  134, note 2 and Louisa Dresser, ed., European Paintings in the Collection of the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester:  Worcester Art Museum, 1974), 437.

[xxxv] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 144.

[xxxvi] Barriault, Spalliera, 11-13.

[xxxvii] Peta Motture and Luke Syson, “Art in the casa,” in At Home in Renaissance Italy, eds. Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis (London:  V&A Publications, 2006), 274.  Painted spalliera panels replaced in popularity painted cassoni (chests), which had been a dominant domestic decoration earlier in the fifteenth century.

[xxxviii] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 80.

[xxxix] Barriault, Spalliera, 5 and 108.

[xl] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 80.

[xli] Barriault, Spalliera, 2.

[xlii] Cosimo Rosselli’s painting of the Last Supper in the Sistine Chapel provides a suggestion of how these panels would have looked in situ.  See Barriault, Spalliera, 10 and 20.

[xliii] Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction, 41.

[xliv] Barriault, Spalliera, 5 and 61 and James Lindow, The Renaissance Palace in Florence: Magnificence and Splendour in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Burlington:  Ashgate, 2007), 166.

[xlv] Motture, “Art in the casa,” 276.

[xlvi] Barriault, Spalliera, 6.

[xlvii] Patrons were often directly involved in the selection of the subject, so it may very well have been Guidantonio or Giovanni who proposed the clever pun with the family name. See Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 78.

[xlviii] Similarly, Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, also commissioned by the Vespucci, has a wasp’s nest in the upper right hand corner.  See Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 100.

[xlix] Höfele, Renaissance Go-Betweens, 126.

[l] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 78. 

[li] Lindow, Renaissance Palace, 129 and 131.

[lii] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 81-82.

[liii] Everett Fahy, Jr., “Some later works of Piero di Cosimo,” Gazette des Beaux Arts Vol. 65 (April, 1965):  203.

[liv] Barriault, Spalliera, 5-6.

[lv] Matthews, “Discovery of Honey,” 359.

[lvi] Matthews, “Discovery of Honey,” 359.

[lvii] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 145.

[lviii] Matthews, “Discovery of Honey,” 360.

[lix] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 144.

[lx] Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions, 102-103.

[lxi] Hirschauer, Piero di Cosimo: Poetry, 148.

 

Bibliography

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———. Infinite Jest: Wit and Humor in Italian Renaissance Art.  Columbia:  University of Missouri Press, 1978.

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Douglas, R. Langton. “The Fall of Man by Piero di Cosimo.” The Burlington Magazine Vol. 86, No. 507 (June, 1945):  134-139.

———. Piero di Cosimo.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946.

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Emison, Patricia. “The Paysage Moralisé.” Artibus et Historiae Vol. 16, No. 31 (1995): 125-137.

Fahy, Everett, Jr. “Some later works of Piero di Cosimo.”  Gazette des Beaux Arts Vol. 65 (April, 1965): 201-212.

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Geronimus, Dennis. Piero di Cosimo: Visions Beautiful and Strange.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2006.

Hirschauer, Gretchen and Dennis Geronimus. Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence.  Washington, D.C.:  National Gallery of Art, 2015.

Höfele, Andreas and Werner von Koppenfels, editors. Renaissance Go-Betweens: Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe.  Berlin:  Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co., 2005.

Lindow, James. The Renaissance Palace in Florence: Magnificence and Splendour in Fifteenth-Century Italy.  Burlington:  Ashgate, 2007.

Matthews, Thomas. “Piero di Cosimo’s Discovery of Honey.” The Art Bulletin Vol. 45, No. 4 (December, 1963):  357-360.

Miller, John. “Piero Di Cosimo’s Ovidian Diptych.” Arion Vol. 15, No. 2 (Fall, 2007):  1-14.

Motture, Peta and Luke Syson. “Art in the casa.”  In At Home in Renaissance Italy, edited by Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis, 268-283.  London:  V&A Publications, 2006.

Panofsky, Erwin. “The “Discovery of Honey” by Piero di Cosimo.” Worcester Art Museum Annual Report II (1936-1937):  32-43.

———. “The Early History of Man in a Cycle of Paintings by Piero di Cosimo.” Journal of the Warburg Institute Vol. 1, No. 1 (July, 1937):  12-30.

Pohl, Frederick. Amerigo Vespucci: Pilot Major.  London:  Frank Cass and Company, 1944.

Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects.  Translated by Gaston du C. de Vere.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

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