Finding History in Art – Iconographic Survey of San Giovanni Battista
As part of the survey of the church of San Giovanni Battista, in San Gemini, we are doing an art and iconographic study. The most important and complete pieces of art are two canvases painted at the beginning of the 17th Century: one By Giovan Battista Manna in 1618, the Madona della Cintola (Our Lady of Consolation); and the other, probably done by Benedetto Bandiera shortly after 1622, is the Madonna del Rosario (Our lady of the Rosary). The study involves both the religious and secular iconography of these paintings. The attached document is a series of notes and observations that have been made during the field school of 2011 and 2012 by the students and faculty involved in the project.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this research has been understanding how history is woven into the artworks. The paintings have two layers of imagery: one being religious, that broadly follows standard sacred iconography; and a second layer, depicts the patrons who commissioned the paintings. This layer presents a challenging historical puzzle that has taken us into an interesting exploration of San Gemini in the 16th and 17th Centuries.