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Quixotic Frescoes

Quixotic Frescoes: Cervantes and Italian Renaissance Art

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 344
  • Book Info
    Quixotic Frescoes
    Book Description:

    As a young man, Miguel de Cervantes left his home in Spain and travelled extensively through Italy, experiencing all that the Italian Renaissance had to offer. In his later writings, Cervantes sought to recapture his experience through literature, and literary critics have often pointed to Italian texts as models for Cervantes' writing. The art of the period, however, has seldom been examined in this context.

    Focusing onDon Quixote, Frederick A. de Armas unearths links between Cervantes' text and frescoes, paintings, and sculptures by Italian artists such as Cambiaso, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. His study seeks to re-engage the critics of today by formulating the link between Cervantes and the Renaissance through an interdisciplinary dialogue that establishes a new set of models and predecessors. This dialogue is used to explore a variety of issues in Cervantes including the absence of a single guiding pictorial program, the doubling of archaeological reconstruction, and the use of ekphrasis as allusion, interpolation, and an integral component of the action.Quixotic Frescoesdelves into the politics of imitation, self-censorship, religious ideology expressed through the pictorial, as well as the gendering of art as reflected in Cervantes' work. This detailed and exhaustive study is an invaluable contribution to both Hispanic and Renaissance studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7896-5
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 The Exhilaration of Italy
    (pp. 3-13)

    Italian sojourns were almost de rigueur for Spanish poets and other thinkers during the Golden Age. Learning Italian metres and perusing the canonical texts of the Renaissance were thought to be almost indispensable in the making of a poet’s career. Cervantes’ voyage, then, resembled the ones of Acuña, Aldana, the brothers Argensola, Cetina, Figueroa, Garcilaso, Hurtado de Mendoza, Medrano, Santillana, and Villamediana. The Italian Renaissance also beckoned writers of prose fiction such as Francisco Delicado, who left Spain for Venice in 1492 never to return; Agustín de Rojas Villandrado, who travelled to Italy around 1596-7;¹ and Francisco de Quevedo, who...

  6. 2 A Museum of Memories: From Numancia to La Galatea
    (pp. 14-28)

    Cervantes, as we have seen in the first chapter, inscribes his desire for Italy into his texts through allusions, quick pictorial bursts, dramatic ekphrasis, and pictorial programs from the Renaissance. But how can the verbal and the visual coexist? And how can Cervantes recollect the many images seen long ago so as to include them in his works? Frances Yates reminds us of the antiquity of the relationship between poetry and painting. Simonedes of Ceos, she tells us, belived that ֹ‘the poet and the painter both think in visual images which the one expresses in poetry and the other in...

  7. 3 At School with the Ancients: Raphael
    (pp. 29-51)

    La NumanciaandLa Galateaare works that revel in the art of imitation. Using the structures and images from Raphael’ frescoes and following many of the classical and Renaissance writers represented in them, these two texts find a way to approach the ancients. While these early texts revel inimitatioandauctoritas, Don Quixotepresents itself as a celebration of the artist’s freedom. Instead of following ancient authorities, it foregrounds Leonardo’s heresy (Greene 1982,44); that is, it resists and even mocks the urge to imitate other texts or even visual representations. There are thus curious similarities between the Prologue...

  8. 4 The Fourfold Way: Raphael
    (pp. 52-70)

    Before turning from the work done at the Vatican by Raphael, let us return to the school where Cervantes learned how to structure texts so as to reflect the elemental forces of nature. Cervantes utilized this form to forge hisNumancia. This chapter will argue that such a numerological structure is key to the first part of the 1605Quijoteand is foregrounded through constant recapitulation in the first two chapters of the novel. Although many patterns can emerge from a study of Raphael’s Stanze, there is one structuring principle that is signalled from within one of the paintings. The...

  9. 5 Textual Terribilitá: Michelangelo
    (pp. 71-92)

    The presence of Raphael in the 1605Don Quixotedoes not mean an unquestioned incorporation of his art as a ‘sacramental’ imitation of the Stanza della Segnatura. Although the first part of the novel (chapters 1–8) follow the Pythagorean tetractys and the numerology of cosmos found in the Vatican frescoes of Raphael, other elements create a countermovement that strains the well-ordered creation of cosmos in the first eight chapters of the novel and eventually lead to a break with Raphael. The tone of the prologue clearly proclaims that the novel will come to reject the correct, measured, and ‘divine’...

  10. 6 The Merchants of Trebizond: Luca Cambiaso
    (pp. 93-112)

    Cervantes’ initial encounter with Renaissance painting when he travelled to Italy did not include the works of Raphael and Michelangelo, of whose rivalries he would later read in Vasari’sLives. The Spanish writer’s first glimpse at art in Italy took place in a city less known for its artistic accomplishments than for its mercantile pursuits. It is quite certain that Cervantes went to Italy by ship, arriving first at the port of Genoa around December of 1569. We may assume this from the fact that in two of his fictional voyages to Italy, the one found in theCaptive’s Tale...

  11. 7 Drawing Decorum: Titian
    (pp. 113-133)

    From the very start of the novel, Don Quixote dreams of kingship and even of empire. In chapter 1, he sees himself crowned as emperor of Trebizond; much later, he is asked to kill the giant Pandafilando so that he can marry Princess Micomicona and become ruler of her lands. The comic manner in which he ‘defeats’ the giant and reluctantly turns down Micomicona’s hand in favour of Dulcinea does not attenuate his desire for kingship or empire.¹ His wish to revive the ancient chivalric past, the world of Amadís, of King Arthur and his knights, is absolute, as is...

  12. 8 Dancing with Giants: Philostratus
    (pp. 134-152)

    Considering the length ofDon Quixote,it is surprising that the adventure of the windmills, taking up a few paragraphs in the text, can come to represent the substance of it. In many ways, the episode is not unique, following what, for Ian Watt, is the pattern of the knight’s adventures: ‘a visual stimulus, a misinterpretation of the stimulus by Quixote in terms of his chivalric compulsions; a realistic correction by Sancho Panza ...’ (1996, 64).¹ Perhaps one of the reasons it has captured the imagination of readers and artists has to do with the scene’s amazing pictorialism, the ease...

  13. 9 A Mannerist Theophany / A Cruel Teichoskopia: Pontormo and Parmigianino
    (pp. 153-169)

    The pastoral tale of Grisóstomo and Marcela, which takes up the bulk of Part 2 of the 1605Quixote,seems almost as out of place as the interpolated tale of theCurioso impertinente. Indeed, it was Cervantes who began the debate on the latter, having his character, Sansón Carrasco, complain that readers have objected to theCurioso’sinclusion: ‘Por no ser de aquel lugar’ (But it’s out of place) (1978, 2.3.63; 506). The 1615 novel also affirms thatnovelasand other digressions will no longer be included since readers ‘llevados de la atención que piden las hazañas de don Quijote...

  14. 10 Dulcinea and the Five Maidens: Zeuxis
    (pp. 170-188)

    While Part 2 of the 1605Quixoteis dedicated to digression, Part 3 returns to the adventures of the deranged knight of La Mancha. Chapter 15 forms a kind of buffer between the amorous (albeit epic) interpolation of Part 2 and the return to ‘epic’ or chivalric exploits. Here, the reader is treated to the passions of Rocinante. Don Quixote’s horse, freed to graze in some meadows, would rather enjoy the pleasures of mating with some Galician mares guarded by carriers from Yanguas. Very much like the reaction Marcela had to Grisóstomo, the mares ignore and reject Rocinante, who becomes...

  15. 11 Love’s Architecture: Giulio Romano
    (pp. 189-204)

    With Part 4 ofDon Quixotewe not only have a proliferation of chapters, but also of adventures. While Part 3 consisted of thirteen chapters, Part 4, the longest, includes twenty-five. Most of these are once again dedicated to digression, as with Part 2. But while the second part featured one pastoral interpolation, Part 4 has six distinct digressions, which are not in the main told as a whole but are narrated in segments, weaving into other interpolations and even quixtoic adventures in order to produce a texture akin to the romances, which relish in the device of interlacing. This...

  16. 12 The Last Enchantment: Epilogue
    (pp. 205-212)

    Among the many images from the frescoes and canvases from Italian Renaissance art that are exhibited in the 1605Don Quixote, a vast majority are anthropomorphic. The text renders depth and perspective to its portrait of character through the many figures found in Italian painting. The prologue begins by depicting the fictive author in a specific pose and mood. He is the melancholy writer whose demeanour parallels that of Michelangelo’s as found in Raphael’sSchool of Athens. In praising Michelangelo, Raphael is also showing his own anxiety and rivalry. The harmonious works of the latter contrast with Michelangelo’sterribilitá,his...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 213-252)
  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 253-276)
  19. Index
    (pp. 277-285)