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Garden of Love in Tuscan Art of the Early Renaissance by P. F. Watson

Garden of Love in Tuscan Art of the Early Renaissance by P. F. Watson

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The Garden of Love is an important subject in secular art of the 15th century, both in Italy and in northern Europe. The chief Italian examples were all painted in Tuscany in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. They depict a landscape consisting of a flowery meadow, a grove, and a great marble fountain, where lovers gather to sing, dance, and make love. Allied to the Garden of Love are variations on a horticultural theme-gardens for lovers celebrated in history, fountains of love, hunts set in a forest that conclude alongside a fountain. Sometimes, too, the Garden of Love becomes the setting for narratives and romances. In all these instances the Garden is more than a pleasing tapestry like backdrop: it serves as a visible symbol of the nature of love itself. This book charts the history of the Garden of Love, and explains the significance it once had. To the first goal the opening chapters address themselves. There the author traces the history of the Garden as a literary theme in poetry of classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, and examines the erotic imagery of medieval secular objects, such as caskets and combs, as well as the conventions of fresco decorations in 14th century palaces and the pejorative presentation of love in Tuscan religious art of the late Middle Ages. The second part of the book explores in detail the Garden of Love and its variants, which represent the confluence of several streams of tradition. The rich content of these paintings is revealed by constant references to Tuscan vernacular literature, particularly the amatory writings of Dante, Petrarch, and, above all, Boccaccio. Literary sources are tempered by the painters' penchant for easily understood symbols and formulas. Finally, the book discusses the virtual demise of the Garden of Love in Tuscan art during the late 15th century. The Garden of Love is a first essay in a tradition continued by Titian in the 16th century, Peter Paul Rubens in the 17th, and Watteau in the 18th.

P. F. Watson
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Garden of Love in Tuscan Art of the Early Renaissance

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