Many anthologies stray widely from their topics and lack coherence. However, in this case, a gathering of essays has been tightly coordinated by two distinguished scholars of early modern art in Europe (and noted students of typology in earlier articles). Thus both the contributors and their contributions to the volume will hold lasting relevance for art historians because of these important early modern visual uses of typology. Although the concept of typology is much better known to medievalists, this collection richly fulfills the promise of the book’s title, emphasizing “continuity and expansion.” Additionally, the ensemble has an all-star cast of authors, chiefly featuring familiar specialists in sixteenth-century art. Their objects of study not only feature panel paintings but also diverse other media: frescoes, prints and book illustrations, and stained glass, at locations across Europe, ranging from cathedrals to ducal palaces.
Early modern scholars are often less familiar with typology, which links Old Testament precedents to New Testament fulfillments, such as the Sacrifice of Isaac with the Crucifixion or Jonah’s escape from the great fish with the Resurrection. Imagery was codified in late medieval books, especially the Biblia pauperum and the Speculum humanae salvationis, and used in turn for Lutheran claims about true faith, where the Brazen Serpent (Numbers 21: 8-9) appears behind Christ on the Cross in Luther’s own formulation of Law versus Grace (discussed by Jeanne Nuechterlein, pp. 153-76). About Luther’s imagery the discussion of “confessional typology” in Lutheran texts and images by Birgit Ulrike Münch (pp. 177-90) includes juxtaposed scenes of papal excesses with New Testament narratives of the life of Jesus in the Passional Christi und Antichristi as well as an unfamiliar picture Bible, Concordantz alt und news Testament (1550), with illustrations by Augustin Hirschvogel.
But such connections were widespread in the period, as revealed in both the introduction by the editors and in two wide-ranging discussions by Ilja Veldman (pp. 75-96) and Dagmar Eichberger (pp. 97-116) about Netherlandish art. Veldman discusses Dutch altarpieces by Engebrechtsz and Hemessen as well as graphic works by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen (especially in his woodcut Passion with accompanying Old Testament scenes, ca. 1518) and Lucas van Leyden. Their shared publisher, Doen Pietersz, even produced his own Large Biblia pauperum (1525-30; fig. 3.10). She shows how typology pervaded imagery in publications as well as in public spaces of churches, demonstrating the divine plan for the history of salvation. Eichberger focuses on altarpieces and on the Old Testament scenes invoked as types for the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. For the Last Supper, in particular, e.g. in Bouts’s 1464-68 Louvain altarpiece, the rare subject of Elijah and the Angel, reinforces the eucharistic center of the retable; but as she notes, the scene also holds an additional charge because of the prophet’s fierce struggles against pagan idolatry.
Charles Zika, by contrast, focuses (pp. 235-58) on multivalent significances of a single, villainous figure, King Saul. A symbol of hybris from medieval through sixteenth-century Bibles, including Lutheran Bibles, his negative example could instruct contemporary Christians in proper conduct. It should also be noted that Bruegel’s 1562 Suicide of Saul (Vienna) may also hold a veiled criticism of the ruling Spanish monarch, but it is not discussed in the essay.
For Anglophone readers, a new star in the volume is Alexander Linke, a young professor at Bochum, who already has authored his own encompassing study: Typologie in der Frühen Neuzeit (Berlin: Reimer, 2014). Linke opens the volume with a broader, systematic discussion of typology, going back to the Church Fathers as he considers its role in theology as well as literature, inflected by both sides of the confessional struggles of the Reformation era. Linke also returns in a later essay (pp. 133-52) to one of his favorite topics, the lost fresco cycle of the Gallery of Stags in the palace of Nancy (1524), where the sacrifice of a wild creature is complemented by the life and sacrifice of Jesus. Linke’s analysis establishes the court contexts that connect French humanism and ideals of the hunt.
Two other, more speculative essays derive from implications rather than explicit juxtapositions. About Bosch’s Prado Epiphany, Reindert Falkenburg (pp. 61-74) raises the concept of “para-typology,” where the Sacrifice of Isaac on a gift by the magi appears ominously in the context of an Adoration of the Magi while surrounded by sinister forces; moreover, the Mass of St Gregory on the exterior of the altarpiece underscores the eventual eucharistic significance of this – and all – altarpieces. (The interested reader should also see a recent study: Debra Higgs Strickland, The Epiphany of Hieronymus Bosch, London: Harvey Miller, 2016). For Pieter Bruegel’s “Months,” Bertram Kaschek (pp. 211-34) argues, following Ernst Gombrich, that gloomy settings in The Dark Day and Return of the Herd allude to the connected scenes of Noah’s Flood and the Last Judgment, a pairing made explicit in two engravings by Jan Sadeler after Dirck Barendsz. Again, no explicit antithesis appears in Bruegel, so this argument depends on a viewer seeking spiritual meaning in the mundane (something that Falkenburg himself does in his recent article, “‘Headlong’ into Pieter Bruegel’s Series of the Seasons,” in The Primacy of the Image in Northern European Art, 1400-1700, Leiden: Brill, 2017, pp. 80-89).
The remaining essays stray further from the Northern, sixteenth-century heartland of the volume. Tamara Engert demonstrates (pp. 191-210) how stained glass windows in Paris (1605) rely on a Dominican treatise of 1602 by Guillaume de Requieu, which uses ten engravings to defend Catholic liturgy and salvation dogma. Two further studies focus on Italian cathedral programs. At the Capella Nova of Orvieto, Jonathan Kline (pp. 117-32) finds typology in mythological subjects as precedents for Christian doctrine. There Luca Signorelli, relying on the Purgatorio of Dante, emphasizes the efficacy of prayer to alleviate the punishments of Purgatory through the stories of Orpheus, Aeneas, and Hercules in Hades. Shelley Perlove concludes the volume (pp. 259-90) with an analysis of Lattanzio Gambara’s frescoes in Parma Cathedral, painted in the wake of the Council of Trent. Although the artist made use of the late medieval compendia, Perlove argues that the Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese, modeled himself on Old Testament heroes and presented a liberal toleration of the city’s Jewish community, particularly in the two narrative Circumcision scenes.
Taken together, these studies offer consistently original and thoughtful analyses of a neglected aspect of early modern religious imagery. Whether Catholic or Protestant, whether private or public, and whether overt and traditional or else implied or expanded (e.g. mythological), such connected, typological thinking still retained its potency well beyond its medieval wellsprings, even to shape many early modern pictorial programs directly.
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