How Northern was the Northern Master at Assisi?


in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 117

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262795
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753954 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

How Northern was the Northern Master at Assisi?

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  • Social and Cultural History


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The origins of the painters of the upper walls of the right (north) transept of the Upper Church of S. Francesco has mystified historians of the greatest early showcase of Italian narrative art. These origins have been explored in a literature dominated by specialists in Italian and Byzantine art, and the conclusions have generally been the same, namely that the right transept was worked on by artists who were not only Italian but also French or English, and who remained content to work in distinctively native styles. This chapter argues that the case for specifically English influence at Assisi is actually vastly weaker than that proposed for Sigena, and that to understand the right transept we may have to look away from thirteenth-century London or Paris. This is not to rule out categorically the possibility of any English influence at Assisi; caution may simply help us to expose and understand the kinds of assumption about artistic identity and experience, which can be seen in practice to have influenced our understanding of what are exceedingly complex monuments that defy categorical definitions of personal, group, or national style.

Keywords: Italian narrative art; painters; right transept; English influence; Assisi; Sigena; artistic identity

Chapter.  18992 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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