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Title: 'Singular devices' : the trade reliefs of San Marco and the iconography of everyday life in medieval Venice
Author: Stevens, Thea Dioné
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 6317
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2007
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In this study, I examine the 'Trade Reliefs' of the main portal at San Marco and the related cycle of the theme of urban work, the Piazzetta column base sculptures, in the light of three chief factors: their possible dating, the issue of their patronage and the conceptual climate that surrounded their production in thirteenth-century Venice. In Chapter One, I establish that the historical and formal context for the 'Trade Reliefs' and the Piazzetta column bases was the ambitious campaign of civic works undertaken at the basilica and in the Insula Sancti Marci in the course of the duecento. In Chapter Two, I consider the problem of the date of the 'Trade Reliefs' in relation to that of the main portal as a whole. In Chapter Three, I outline the regulation to which trade and manufacture were subject in medieval Venice, especially in reference to the statutes of the guilds, in order to establish the worth of the 'arti argument' for the analysis of the 'Trade Reliefs' and Piazzetta column bases. In Chapter Four, I propose that the question of the patronage of the 'Trade Reliefs' and Piazzetta column bases must be analysed in relation to the procurators of San Marco, the governmental officials who organised the workings and funding of the activities of the opus, a remit that extended to the Insula Sancti Marci as a whole. In the fifth and final chapter, I place the 'Trade Reliefs' and the Piazzetta column bases within the context of the fashioning of visual politics m the Insula Sancti Marci in the duecento. I consider the implications of previous interpretations of the decoration of San Marco as a politically-motivated programme of works, proposing that the display of spolia such as the Quadriga and the deliberate evocation of early Christian and Roman models at both the basilica itself and in the Insula as a whole can be read as the proclamation of a triumphalist message in the afterbirth of the Fourth Crusade. I also analyse the emphasis placed on the imagery of civic justice, and by citing the hiclusion of lion protome heads in the 'Trade Reliefs' I link this concept to their overall meaning, proposing that the latter should be read as not merely eschatological but also a direct statement of the workings of the state-led civic collective. I conclude, therefore, that the case of the 'Trade Reliefs' and Piazzetta column sculptures presents us with a paradigm of visual propaganda in which the state enforced the values of the civic collective, and that in both cycles of the iconography of everyday life the dialectic between ideal and real become is mirrored by that between subject and subjectified.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Glasgow
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral