Not without honour : Paris Bordon in sixteenth-century Venice and beyond
The format of this thesis is a series of seven chapters, which examines the local and foreign influences that affected Paris Bordon (1500-1571), both artistically and personally, and which establishes the contemporary and posthumous effect of his art in Italy, France, Germany and The Netherlands. In doing so, it seeks to address the conundrum of his apparent lack of popularity in Venice itself, both during his lifetime and in more recent times. It also demonstrates that, although there is no documentary evidence to link the artist with the trip to France mentioned by Vasari, there is sufficient pictorial confirmation. At the same time, this thesis also charts the growing interest in Bordon’s works in the auction houses of Europe and his greater representation in major exhibitions throughout the world. Chapter One provides a historical and historiographical background to the artist. The first part places Bordon within the context of Venice’s political and cultural relations with Treviso, France, Milan and Augsburg, suggesting that these conditions may have shaped his art. The second section of this chapter discusses his critical reception since the sixteenth century. The next six chapters are defined by genre, and his works are considered in chronological order. However, because his religious output was substantial, this segment of the body of his works is divided between three chapters (Chapter Two, Three and Four) and consequently between three headings, discussing his works before 1540, from 1540 onwards and his altarpieces. Chapter Five deals with his portraiture and attempts to dispel several erroneous attributions and also to expand his body of works with some new discoveries. Chapter Six brings together his Mythologies and examines the eclectic influences upon these works. Chapter Seven is the first comprehensive examination of a group of works, the Architectural Perspectives, which was fairly unique to Bordon and which was to provide a model for French and Netherlandish artists. The seven chapters are followed by a conclusion and by three appendices, which comprise a catalogue of Bordon’s works, a comparison in English of the accounts of the life of the artist by Vasari and Ridolfi, and a register of documents translated into English.