Seventeenth-century drawings and prints known as capricci have long challenged critics through their unconventional subjects and form, but their significance within seventeenth-century visual arts has not been thoroughly studied. This dissertation follows the birth and early development of capricci as a graphic mode of invention, and as sketch-like demonstrations of disegno. Considering evidence from the late sixteenth century to the mid eighteenth century, this study demonstrates the importance that capricci held in contemporary art criticism and in art collections. Most importantly, these capricci reveal the artists' engagement with the viewing act and their efforts to guide the response of the beholder.
Following the Introduction, which studies the etymology of capriccio as a term used in literature and music before it was adopted in the visual arts, Chapter One considers the caricatures and genre scenes of Annibale and Agostino Carracci as antecedents of capricci and as an integral element of the Carracci reform of painting. Chapter Two focuses on the etchings of Jacques Callot and Stefano della Bella, examining their innovative techniques and relationships to drawing books, as well as the manner in which they were collected and described by contemporaries. The third chapter presents Guercino as a collector and inventor of capricci . Guercino's own collection of genre scenes, caricatures, landscapes, and grotesques (which we know from the Gennari inventory of 1719) is presented as a historical framework for the term capriccio. The collection also attests to the significance Guercino attached to his own drawings unrelated to commissioned works. Chapter Four considers the theme of death, a subject well suited to express the affective potential of capricci. After examining the dream-like figures in Salvator Rosa's Figurine and their anticipation of the sublime, the chapter turns to Stefano della Bella's etchings of Death. These are works that lead one straight to Giambattista Tiepolo's Scherzi, which appropriately enough, show Death as a member of their viewing audience.
|Advisor:||Freedberg, David, Rosand, David|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Comparative literature, Art history|
|Keywords:||Baroque, Capriccio, Drawings, Italian, Italy, Prints, Seventeenth century|
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