Entrance door of Castel del Monte, built by Frederick II. Hohenstaufen. Early thirteenth century. The architect has surrounded the doorway with an imitation of an antique Corinthian Order. He has included an attic storey, possibly suggested by triumphal arches.
Surveys of the Italian Renaissance usually begin with the year 1260, in which Nicola Pisano signed and dated his pulpit in the Baptistery of Pisa Cathedral. Because of the high-minded seriousness of this work, and its clear relationship to antique Roman sarcophagi, the Pisa Baptistery pulpit is the first convenient example of that interest in Antiquity which is the governing factor in the Renaissance.
Yet to state baldly that Nicola Pisano is a classical artist is an inadequate beginning to a book on the classical tradition. The word 'renaissance' means 're-birth' or 'revival', and accords with contemporaries' conviction that culture had died with the fall of the Roman Empire, and that they were responsible for its resurrection. However, to take the Renaissance strictly at its own evaluation is to beg the question of the status of antique art in the preceding centuries, and to gloss over the crucial question of whether interest in Roman civilization ever died throughout the 'Dark Ages' and the 'Middle Ages', which were in fact two terms invented by the Renaissance frame of mind. Were the Pisa Pulpit and other monuments of romanizing art revivals or survivals? To answer that question, a survey of the classical tradition must begin with the later years of the Western Roman Empire, when elements of Roman iconography and style were assimilated quite naturally into the art of the Early Christian Church, and therefore sanctified as part of a new and Christian tradition.
Pagan into Christian
In AD 313, with the conversion of Constantine to Christianity and the Peace of the Church, the Christian religion could come out into the open. No longer was it necessary for Christians to hide the meaning of Christ behind the form of Orpheus. Not surprisingly, Christian artists brought up in the Roman milieu took inspiration from Roman art, not necessarily contemporary art, but often the more classical forms of earlier years. It is therefore no coincidence that the most frequently illustrated aspects of Christian belief are those for which parallels exist in pagan Roman art.15 Thus The Emperor on his Throne becomes Christ in The Emperor Triumphing over his Enemies becomes The Triumph of Christ.12'16 In general, themes of glorification and power are those most frequently adapted, because the Roman Empire had no language for the humbler Christian virtues ; the same is true in the art of Byzantium.
Certain motifs, therefore, have an antique Roman or Jewish origin together with a long christianized tradition.21 Motifs such as the triumph23 and the triumphal arch have a continuous history in Christian as well as in secular ceremonial and monuments.20 The idea of borrowing a set of forms and changing their original meaning (often much more drastically than by the small shift from Emperor to Christ) is one which is crucial to an understanding of the classical tradition. It is largely through the christianization of Roman forms that those forms survive the Middle Ages.24'25 Yet a distinction is to be made between the slow assimilation of ideas and forms during the Middle Ages, and the self-conscious revival of paganism in the Italian Renaissance, when there are examples of Christian ritual depicted in the manner of antique pagan custom.22 There is, then, no doubt that the Italian Renaissance showed a revival of interest in Antiquity much more far-reaching than any previous period had manifested. However, revival is impossible without survival, because it is respect for antiquities which alone preserves them so that such a revival is possible. During the centuries between the fall of the Roman Empire and the time of Nicola Pisano, much was certainly destroyed and neglected; and yet enough survived to fuel a series of classical revivals great and small. Why should interest in an ancient civilization survive for a millennium and then become the backbone of European culture again from the Renaissance until the nineteenth century?
The strength of the classical tradition derives from its relevance to both secular and ecclesiastical power and pretensions. If, as Grabar has remarked, Christian art 'was born old, and saddled with the burden of an age-old Mediterranean tradition',14 it was nevertheless a tradition that the papacy and the princes of the Church gladly accepted. Stories of Christian mistrust of things pagan are rare,11 and can be more than balanced by examples of the reuse of pagan statues,10 medals and gems, and buildings.13-17 Indeed, the popes adopted Roman imperial imagery with little change;34 in the later Middle Ages at least, their pretensions to temporal power, as seen particularly in their struggle with the Holy Roman Empire, made them to all effects secular as well as religious rulers. As Hobbes wrote in Leviathan (iv. 47), 'the Papacy is not other than the Ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.
Survival and revival
Survival and revival are complementary forms of the same respect for classical Antiquity, but were the classical tradition merely about the survival and revival of motifs, it would be a
sorry thing, incapable of long life. Rather this tradition is an idea, an intellectual position, ajid a desire to imitate and learn from aspects of Roman civilization. Evidently the survival of Roman law and administrative practice was impossible after the break-up of the Empire and the move of the power-base north and west to France and Germany, for the social system gradually changed to feudalism based on agriculture, away from commerce based on towns and founded in slavery. Such aspects of Roman civilization would require deliberate revival; they had to await the growing importance of the towns in the later Middle Ages, and of a system with which feudalism could
Lecce, S. Croce. Detail of facade. The figures and architectural details of this seventeenth-century church are inspired by local Romanesque survivals.
not cope. Literature was a different matter. Certain texts were well known during the Middle Ages and, had it not been for assiduous copying of ancient manuscripts during the Carolingian period, little would have survived to excite the book-hunters of the Renaissance, who were sometimes misled in their dating of a manuscript because the Carolingian scribe had quite deliberately imitated an antique style of illustration as well as copying the text.
Survival depended on many factors, and certain classes of art fared better than others. Perhaps certain building forms survived best of all, because they were so easily converted to modern use: the Roman basilica becomes the Christian church,30 the Roman tomb becomes the Christian martyrium.31 The Roman villa sees long occupation and rebuilding and survives into the Renaissance (see pp. 62ff., below). Mosaics lasted well unless attacked by damp, but frescoes were easily painted or plastered over. Reliquaries of precious metals and stones usually suffered the obvious fate, as did statues of bronze.28 Sculpture in the round was not a popular Christian art form in the Middle Ages, but relief work survived well, whether on sarcophagi, on church capitals or facades, or on coins, medals, ivories or gems. Differing chances of survival impede the historian and forcibly turn his eyes in one direction rather than another: ivories survive in profusion from Carolingian and earlier times, so that a coherent study can be made of influence and imitation, but to attempt a similar study on frescoes would be difficult indeed.
Revival, like survival, can often be a continuous process, and a very confusing one. It can, for example, be hard to determine whether a twelfth-century artist is imitating antique Roman work, or Carolingian or indeed Ottoman work, and equally hard to say whether the artist could himself tell the difference, or was simply imitating a good 'old' style.26'27 The Church of S. Maria Antiqua, Rome, has a sixth-century Maria Regina fresco overlaid in the seventh century by an Annunciation the style of which imitates first-century work, and near by an eighth-century row of standing saints in the contemporary Byzantine tradition. In S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, mosaics
Venice, St Mark's Basilica. Christ. Revival and survival: this fourteenth-century mosaic, like much of the decoration of St Mark's, owes its style to a mixture of Byzantine and Romanesque manners, as well as to Early Christian work in Ravenna.
of the first half of the fifth century depicting scenes of the lives of the Virgin and Christ tell their stories in a manner similar to that in the contemporary Codex Vaticanus, and to that on Roman triumphal arches. Indeed, the divisions between the scenes effected by architectural elements, the episodes broken into horizontal ranks, and even the winged angel and winged bull at the apex of the arch recall a Roman triumphal arch with its winged victories and
Sarcophagus ofJunius Bassus. Cast, Museo Laterano Cristiano, Vatican.
scenes of conquest. Nor is the idea of triumph absent from the church decoration: it has simply been transferred into a Christian context.
The revival/survival problem is perhaps best seen in Early Christian sarcophagi. It is often
Lucca, S. Frediano. Detail of twelfth-century font. The influence of Early Christian columnar sarcophagi is clear in both drapery and architectural style. The shape of the font is perhaps derived from that of an Early Christian pyx.
difficult to date them, because they imitate Roman forms so conscientiously. Sarcophagi, whether pagan or Christian, are by nature almost indestructible. They were mass-produced in large numbers, shipped all over the Empire, and were also made according to
Antique sarcophagus with a bust of the deceased. Cathedral atrium, Salerno.
more localized traditions. The better ones were so finely decorated that they were used over and over again (sarcophagus means 'flesh-eater'!) or converted into baths.32'1103 They formed the largest single source of motifs up to and throughout the Renaissance.36 The scenes on Christian ones might be vague adaptations of pagan subjects, such as a bucolic scene into The Good Shepherd, a Sleeping Ariadne into Jonah, or an Emperor Receiving Tribute into The Adoration of the Magi ;29 or pagan motifs which also carried Christian connotations might be shown, such as putti harvesting grapes, or scenes of sacrifice, or winged genii. One of the few dated examples is the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (AD 359, Rome, Grotte Vaticane),
which shows Old and New Testament scenes separated by ornately decorated columns which form a colonnade the length of the front. The figures are grave and noble, and wear togas. The central scenes, as is usual on Christian sarcophagi of this period, show Christ Triumphant, seated with feet resting on the cosmos in the upper range and making a triumphal entry in the lower. Like many of its fellows, and like the Arch of Constantine (of half a century earlier), the Junius Bassus sarcophagus, while retaining aspects of an earlier and more classical style, tends to change the proportions of the figures, to give to each of them a childish and expressionless face, and to abbreviate anatomical description. In other
Antique sarcophagus with medieval lid. The end view, clumsily reworked in a pseudo-classical manner, is shown LEFT. Cathedral atrium, Salerno.
words, some Christian art, like contemporary pagan art, begins to display that disregard for classical elegance which is a feature even of much romanizing painting and sculpture of the early Middle Ages. Such an example illustrates one way in which forms change through time while retaining earlier characteristics—one way, indeed, in which a tradition changes and develops. Yet is a later artist who makes use of classicizing sources necessarily a revivalist? Surely the distinction between survival and revival must depend on an element of conscious choice, of selecting this rather than that sarcophagus or ivory. This is what the artists of the Renaissance did: they tended to ignore late sarcophagi in favour of earlier and better-proportioned examples.
To make use of classical antique objects and even to imitate them does not constitute a revival, a renaissance. When, for example, the Council of Macon, in 550, complained of corpses being unceremoniously thrown out so that sarcophagi might be re-used, the protest was against the indecent haste, not against a revival of pagan practice.13 Indeed, it was not unusual for clerics, and nobles too, to be buried in pagan sarcophagi. Charlemagne, for example, was buried in one decorated with a representation of the Rape of Proserpine, and as well as serving as baths or fonts, sarcophagi were sometimes used as altars, or their relief sculpture was incorporated into architectural schemes. We must therefore expect to find the useful impedimenta of the ancient world being re-used during the Middle Ages. Only when the ideals of Roman civilization join a selective interest in Roman style are we entitled to call the product a revival.33'35
The Carolingian Renaissance
The invasions of Europe by barbarian hordes during late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages temporarily changed the romanizing tradition of Christian art but did not obliterate antique culture completely.63 The Ostrogoths, the Burgundians and the Lombards (to name but three peoples) introduced a tradition of art which was not centred on the beauty of the human body, like classical art, but on elaborate
Ravenna, S. Vitale: plan. The atrium no longer exists.
decoration which can distort representations of people, changing them into ciphers and therefore de-humanizing them, as in The Book of Kells or The Book of Durrow. During the seventh and eighth centuries, in fact, it was the Eastern Roman Empire, established at Constantinople in AD 330 both as a refuge from barbarians and as a more convenient centre for campaigning in the East, that was the centre for the protection and study of things Greek and Roman. The city of Rome itself, subjected to waves of invasion and looting, was no longer a suitably tranquil place for the arts of peace. Byzantine art, popular in parts of Italy, including Rome, throughout the Middle Ages, contained within its style reminiscences of the style and formulae of Roman art.41
However, on Christmas Day in the year AD 800, the somnolent Byzantine Empire was challenged by the coronation in St Peter's, Rome, of the Prankish king Charles, called Charlemagne, as Holy Roman Emperor.46 He entered Rome on horseback in pompous procession, as an emperor of old. The Lorsch Annals tell of the deliberations that went on before the coronation, and of the reasoning that the imperial throne was in effect vacant
Aix-la-Chapelle. Plan of Charlemagne's palace chapel.
because a woman occupied it in Constantinople, and a usurper at that. After the ceremony, Charlemagne was acclaimed by the congregation as 'Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and powerful Emperor of the Romans'. The crowd probably included Senate and army, hence adding to the acclamatio the sanctity of ancient Roman tradition.
The reinstitution of the Western Empire encouraged a belief in the continuity of Roman power. As Otto of Freising wrote in the prologue to his Livre des deux cites (mid-twelfth century), 'I have dealt with the line of Roman Emperors . . . continuing up to the present day'. As uncle of Frederick Barbarossa, a Hohenstaufen emperor, Otto's concern was clear, but his words underline the belief of Charlemagne and later emperors that they were the direct successors of Julius Caesar himself (*The most famous printed book on the subject of the emperors was perhaps H. Golzius's Icones Imperatorum Romanorum (Antwerp, 1645), where the images of the emperors are show in medallic form, with short accounts of their reigns underneath.42'48). The Holy Roman Empire as temporal power and idea in fact survived until 1806, but declined rapidly in power and geographical extent.50 In the earlier centuries of that Empire, when power over the city of Rome was often a feasible hope if never an actual fact, the Holy Roman Emperors had emotional ties with the city and its civilization which are explored in the next chapter. Frederick Barbarossa, for example, could proclaim (as the annalist Rahwein records): 'By the will of God I am called, and I verily am, the Roman Emperor; and I should therefore only possess the semblance of dominion, I should only bear a worthless title, a name without substance, if power over the city of Rome were to fall from my grasp.' Such beliefs were strengthened by the classicizing reflections in contemporary art.43 Charlemagne's revival of things Roman, to bolster his imperial heritage, has great consequences for the history of the classical tradition.
The Carolingian period witnessed not only an awakening of scholarly study of the books of Antiquity (an activity which entailed their imitation and survival through re-copying), but also a conscious attempt to rival elements of Roman civilization by imitation of its material remains. Charlemagne's artists naturally looked to the Christian period of the Roman Empire for their models,47'64 and the usual comparison for Charlemagne was to Con-stantine, a Christian Emperor, and not to his predecessors (who only began to receive attention in the Italian Renaissance). Charlemagne's empire covered much of what is now France and Germany, and he set up his imperial capital at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), where he built a palace with a centrally planned chapel which partly imitated that jewel of Byzantium in the west, S. Vitale at Ravenna (consecrated AD 547),37 and which itself fathered a long line of imitations.53'73 And if there are similarities between the Chapel at Aix-la-Chapelle and the Golden Triclinium of Justinian at Constantinople,56 so there are parallels between the Lateran Palace in Rome and Charlemagne's palace, also named the Lateran.45 Charlemagne's Chapel is in part actually antique, for he received permission from the Pope to take marble and columns from the Ravenna churches to beautify his building. We know that his adviser and biographer, Einhard, had read Vitruvius and, like the widely-travelled
Ivory cover of the Lorsch Gospels: the Virgin and Child ', c. 810. London, Victoria and Albert Museum.
urse, highly unlikely: the explanation Einhard, classical scholar that he was, .piration for most of the material in his hy from Suetonius' Lives! main survivals from the Carolingian apart from architecture, are in the form iscript illumination61 and ivories.74 If, illuminated manuscripts of the Court the imitation of Roman precedents44 is mited to the majestic stance of the the type of lettering, and the narrative about AD 810, are closely based on sixth-century work, itself in the tradition of the consular diptych.60 Furthermore, antique ivories were sometimes recut by Carolingian craftsmen. Also indicating complicated sources are the two ivory covers of the Psalter of Charles the Bald (mid-ninth century), which reproduce two illustrations from the Utrecht Psalter, itself produced under Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, at Rheims c. 830 (now at Utrecht). The Utrecht Psalter itself is, in its turn, an imitation of work of the first century AD, in the Hellenistic tradition.40 This important manuscript was surely intended to look antique, for it certainly deceived many nineteenth-century scholars into dating it much too early. Its prestige can be judged by the copies and imitations of it in various media.78 Nor is there any need to suppose that Rome was the exclusive source of Carolingian artistic affectations: certain styles have been discerned in manuscripts from the Aix Court School which make it likely that Byzantine artists, or artists trained in the East or accustomed to copying Byzantine models, were productive there. In other words, the classicism of some of the Carolingian output must have come from Constantinople.38
From the wide range of styles used by the Carolingians, it is clear that their love-affair was with the past and not exclusively with the classical. For example, the small ninth-century equestrian statue of a Carolingian emperor (Paris, Louvre) is evidently inspired by the Marcus Aurelius, particularly the horse. The rider, however, is particularized firmly in his own century by dress and crown, and is in no way antique. Nor was Charlemagne so enentranced by book-learning that he wished to perpetuate his fame through the endowment of a library: he stipulated in his will that his books shall be bought at a reasonable price by anyone who wants to have them. Such attitudes are balanced by the overt antiquarianism of Einhard himself, who probably provided drawings or instructions for the reliquary or base of a cross in the form of a triumphal arch which he commissioned c.828 for one of his abbeys. In a letter, he described this as made after the example of ancient works; and indeed, it is convincingly antique in shape, in the arrangement of the figures (which are Christian), in the pedestal for the quadriga on top, and in the inscription which Einhard composed for the attic storey, set in a tablet. Yet the work does not accept Roman forms or iconography on their own terms, but transmutes them into a Christian analogy of triumph.39
Perhaps the importance of the Carolingian Renaissance for the history of the classical tradition is only incidental in art and architecture, and more important in the appreciation of ancient literature, the copying of manuscripts and the imitation of ancient hands and good Latin which this entailed.54 Without such copying, few of the famous books of Antiquity would have reached the Italian Renaissance and hence come down to us. Without the development of the elegant Carolingian uncial, the Renaissance printing types from which modern types are descended would probably not have existed.72 And as well as preserving manuscripts,62 the Carolingian concern with Antiquity aided the preservation particularly of the decorative arts, such as the pagan ivory plaques set into the ambo of Henry II at Aix-la-Chapelle (c. 1002). Such re-use can be paralleled during all periods of the Middle Ages, for precious stones and gems, coins and medals were prized for their decorative and their curiosity value; for instance, the famous cameo set into the Cross ofLothair III (c. 1000, Aix-la-Chapelle, Cathedral Treasury). Gem-cutting, an antique skill, was much practised in Carolingian times, and the craftsmen naturally used antique specimens as models for their own creations.49'68'69
Did the death of Charlemagne in 814 and the progressive dismemberment of his empire in the later ninth century entail the extinction of the advances in scholarship wrought under his rule ? Although the death of Charles the Bald in 877 announced almost a century of artistic stagnation, when Otto I was crowned king at Aix-la-Chapelle in 936 a deliberate historical link was forged with Charlemagne. Otto (who was not even a Frank, but a Saxon, and had no other connections with Aix), crowned on Charlemagne's throne in his chapel, began a tradition to be followed by thirty-two kings
and Holy Roman Emperors. When he was anointed Emperor in Rome in 962, his seal bore the legend OTTO IMPERATOR AUGUSTUS RENO VATIO IMPERII ROMANORUM. The culture of the Ottomans can be described as another renaissance because of the connections between their art and that of Antiquity.71 Just as the Carolingians had copied earlier works of art, so the Ottonians sometimes rehearsed not only Byzantine but also Carolingian precedents, as in the Book of Pericopes (Reichenau, 969/76), a close imitation of the Lorsch Gospels of the early ninth century. Surely there is a direct connection with the antiquities of Rome in the commissions of that latter-day Einhard, Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim.77 His beauti-fication of his cathedral between 992 and 1022 included a set of bronze doors for which there might well have been some direct antique source closer than the wooden doors of S. Ambrogio, Milan (fourth century) or S. Sabina, Rome (fifth century). He also commissioned a bronze triumphal column (in fact a paschal candlestick with scenes from The Mission of Christ) which, in the arrangement of the scenes, in the narrative technique, and in certain iconographical details, is directly based on Trajan's Column. What is more, the base of the Hildesheim Column has mouldings which show a true concern for the niceties of the classical Orders of architecture. Certain Ot-tonian manuscripts, such as the Gospels of Otto III (c. 1000, Munich, Bayerische Staats-museum), show a direct use of late antique precedents, and not a later Byzantine re-interpretation thereof.75
In an empire where the regent had to travel widely from centre to centre if he wished to retain power, it would be foolish to expect one single attitude toward Antiquity. The very size of the empire ensured fragmentation of styles. Thus in Metz were produced in the mid-ninth century a group of ivories based on late antique models—some of the same models, in fact, as those used by the earlier Court School at Aix. Another centre was Milan, better placed for antique models, as the magnificent Golden Altar (c. 850, Milan, S. Ambrogio) testifies: this has been described as standing 'in the closest proximity to the kind of north
Italian traditions and Late Antique sources fundamental to the whole creation of Carolingian art'.55 Furthermore, Rome itself took part, during the ninth century, in the revival of its Early Christian and pagan past.58
Hildesheim candlestick, c, 1015-22. Hildesheim Cathedral.
THE TWELFTH-CENTURY RENAISSANCE
We have seen that the Carolingian and Ot-tonian 'renaissances' were both small (in the numbers of scholars or artists they affected) and ephemeral in their consequences. The Twelfth-Century Renaissance is of infinitely greater importance because it touched a wider range of human activity. We might think of it as a reform of social and intellectual life supported by an expanding and more urbanized population. From the late eleventh century, Europe saw an increase in prosperity dependent not, as before, on agricultural estates, but on a renewed emphasis on industry and commerce, and a renewed focus on towns * as centres of commercial and intellectual advancement. A firm administrative structure— a civil service—grew up, beginning in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, where ancient Roman administrative systems had never quite died out. To support such a system, scholars studied and partly resurrected Roman law, which was seen as adding support to the legitimacy of the Holy Roman Empire and its emperors, and underpinning their political authority. Indeed, much of the struggle between Popes and Hohenstaufen in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was rooted in legal issues, particularly the famous Donation of Constantino which gave the Popes authority over Rome and much of Italy. That this was an eighth-century forgery was not discovered until the fifteenth century; although previous writers had cast doubts upon it, Lorenzo Valla could apply a much fuller understanding of Roman legal practice and philology to bring about its demolition. Furthermore, commercial prosperity, a monetary system founded once again on coinage, and easier travel throughout Europe encouraged the foundation and spread
of many more universities, where not only Roman law, but ancient literature and philosophy as well, might be studied.
In several ways, therefore, the achievements of the twelfth century foreshadow the interests of the Italian Renaissance which, we should remember, is as much a revival of Roman civics and literature as it is of Roman art. To find imitation of classical originals in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries we move from the traditional centres of Carolingian and Ottoman culture southwards, to southern France85'95 and Italy.83'88 Earlier revivals had concentrated their efforts mainly on small-scale objects such as manuscripts, ivories, gems and, occasionally, coins; even their architecture was modest in scale, and sought little of that monumentality through sheer size which was to be found in Roman remains. However, southern France, particularly Provence89 and the Rhone valley, and Italy were much richer than northern lands in antique remains.94 Statues, bas-reliefs, sarcophagi and architecture were available for first-hand imitation, and their presence provoked a characteristic which clearly distinguishes the twelfth-century revival from earlier ones, namely the new prominence of sculpture in the round, usually in an architectural context, but never flat or lifeless even though connected to some backing support.84 If earlier revivals were often, unknowingly perhaps, imitating models at second or even third hand, twelfth-century imitations can have a more authentic touch because they display direct contact with actual antiquities.82 They tend therefore to look more antique, to breathe a classical spirit as well as to bear a classical form. The unity of spirit is best seen in architecture, for the facades of St-Trophime at Aries,80 or the nearby St-Gilles-du-Gard,87 (both c. 1150) are variations on the theme of the triumphal arch; and one of the Roman gates at Autun (second century AD) inspired the fluted pilasters and arches of the nave of Autun Cathedral (begun 1090). Indeed, it is in southern lands that this, the Romanesque style, has most to do with that Roman architecture from which it takes its name; similarly, it was in those parts least affected by actual Roman remains that the new
ABOVE Rome, Forum. Arch of Septimus Severus (S.E. side). BELOW Andrea Sansovino, Tomb of Cardinal Girolarno Basso della Rovere, 1507. Rome, S. Maria del Popolo. The triumphal arch motif is much used during the Renaissance. BBIOW Aries, St-Trophime, Portal, c. 1150.
Liege, St~Barthelemy. Detail of Baptism of Christ from the font of Rainer of Huy, 1107-18.
architecture of Europe, Gothic architecture, heedless of Roman structural techniques, ground plans, columns and facades, grew up. Evidently the location in Italy of the architectural revival during the fifteenth century is no mere chance; almost unaffected by Gothic, the Italian Romanesque style harboured reminiscences of Early Christian and Roman techniques and forms, and thereby facilitated a direct return to Antiquity,90'91
The relative simplicity of the revival in architecture is vitiated by the utter confusion in sculpture. There are, from Liege to Toulouse, sculptures which depend from classical originals, but the sources are lost to us. In about 1117, Rainer of Huy made a bronze font (now in Liege, St-Barthelemy), with majestically impassive toga-clad figures which sug~ gest some contact with Greek painted vases. His whole treatment of the human body ex-
presses a classical poise and serenity, but the actual source remains as much a mystery as the evident (to some people at least) sixth to fifth century BC analogies for the figures on the west front of Chartres Cathedral of the mid-eleventh century. Even more remarkable is the work of the so-called Antique Master at Rheims, particularly the Visitation Group (c. 1240). The figures at Chartres (by the Master of the Archaic Smile, c. 1150) are elongated to emphasize their architectonic function, and do indeed have smiles analogous to Greek archaic work. There, surely, any parallel must stop, for the style of dress and coiffure is too different from the suggested sources, and compatible with contemporary practice. The work of the Antique Master, however, is very different; his figures are not dependent on the architecture against which they are seen. Their pose, dress, and whole personality are antique,
hardly of their own century at all. Their sources are Augustan, and it can be assumed that their author knew something of the Ara Pacis, as well as having studied antiques we know to have existed in Rheims, The importance of this one man's work for the Gothic style at Rheims (from c. 1260) and hence the fundamental importance of the antique for the Gothic sculptural style derives from the ease and gracefulness that he introduced into art, in comparison with the still and geometrical, the hieratic and remote Romanesque manner of his contemporaries. Without the example of the antique at one or two removes, perhaps the Gothic style would not have developed such a lilting and smiling type of humanity, but there is nevertheless a gulf separating Gothic art from the work of the Antique Master and his spiritual (not, of course, actual) heir, Nicola Pisano.
Not long after the Antique Master was working in Rheims, Nicola began work on the pulpit for the Baptistery of Pisa Cathedral (c. 1255-60). Why should this work, rather than that in Rheims, or work performed under the Ottonians in Milan, be judged the true starting point of the Italian Renaissance? Partly, of course, because Vasari gives a key place to Nicola in the Lives, but mostly because of his 'powerful imagination and unwavering seriousness',93 which enabled him to find in Roman relief sculpture not only a monumental style but also a narrative technique which, after the gap of a generation, would be transferred to painting by Giotto. The Antique Master at Rheims had no coherent following, whereas Nicola, after a long gap, certainly did. That gap saw the introduction into Italy, via ivories and perhaps manuscripts, of a Gothic manner to be adapted by his son, Giovanni,
One illustration will suggest that classicism in art depended for its support, even in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, on a strong ideological basis. The great Roman cemetery of Les Aliscamps at Aries had harboured many sarcophagi during the Middle Ages. It has been shown87 that one of these provided one of the sculptors of the facade of St-Gilles-du-Gard (c. 1130-50) not far away with both a drapery style and a narrative technique, while a com-
Nicola Pisano: Hercules from the Pisa Baptistery pulpit, c. 1255-60.
panion worker dressed his figures differently and worked in a totally dissimilar style. Yet Provence did not witness a sustained renaissance of interest in Antiquity: under the rule of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily (crowned Emperor in 1220), his southern possessions certainly did. Frederick, bolstered by the traditions of Roman administration and Roman law,81 acted like the Roman Emperor he was: he erected a triumphal arch for himself at Capua and placed upon it a statue of himself dressed not in contemporary clothes but in a chlamys. From 1231 he struck golden coins at Brindisi and Messina, which were called Angus-tales. Roman antiquities were more readily available for imitation than they had been to Charlemagne, and Frederick's artists produced some of the most antique-looking art seen since the fall of the Roman Empire.86 The very scale of the figures on the arch at Capua (1234-9) must have been immense. Little of the work survives, but the head of the tutelary deity, Capua fidelis, is nearly three feet in height, calling to mind the colossal bronze statue of an emperor (perhaps Theodosius) at Barletta, which is over sixteen feet high. Nicola Pisano, whom we know for his work in Tuscany, was in fact a native of Apulia, and therefore grew up amidst Frederick's revival of Antiquity, although no work in the south can be identified as from his hand.
The revival in the Kingdom of Sicily (which included much of southern Italy as well) is different in nature from previous affairs with the antique, which had adopted a rather 'matter-of-fact' approach of using motifs where convenient. Frederick's culture involved a new attitude to Antiquity of which art was but one part of a grand design. His craftsmen tried to resurrect ancient models as they actually were, rather than adopting the standard medieval procedure of separating meaning from content, changing pagan to Christian and thereby producing figures with only one half of a split personality. As Pan-ofsky wrote, 'the Middle Ages had left antiquity unburied and alternately galvanised and exorcised its corpse. The Renaissance stood weeping at its grave and tried to resurrect its soul.'92 In the incarnation of the latter, first brought about by Frederick in the Kingdom of Sicily, Antiquity could become an ideal, a vision of the past dependent on those techniques of historical enquiry which its study stimulated. The study of history, a consciousness of the past and a desire to resurrect it, is the unifying theme of the Italian Renaissance, and the driving force of the classical tradition in European art.
Castel Nuovo, Naples, Triumphal arch, built by Alfonso V, who conquered Naples in 1442. The antique remains in the area, and perhaps the legacy of the Hohenstaufen, dictated the idea and its classical form. LEFT Detail of one of the pedestals.