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Publication . Article . 2016

MONKEY BUSINESS: THE PUZZLE OF ROSSO'S APE

Linda Caron;
Published: 07 Jan 2016 Journal: Source: Notes in the History of Art, volume 13, pages 25-30 (issn: 0737-4453, eissn: 2328-207X, Copyright policy )
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Abstract
After being caught up in the events sur rounding the Sack of Rome in May 1527 and barely escaping with his life,1 Rosso took refuge in Borgo Sansepolcro, where he was friendly with the bishop, Leonardo Tornabuoni.2 Raffaellino dal Colle relin quished a commission he had received so that the town would have a painting by Rosso,3 and Rosso produced the Deposi tion for the Confraternity of S. Croce, a flagellant society. The contract was signed in September 1527 and the work completed by July 1528.4 The confraternity church was remodeled several times and eventually became the church now called S. Lorenzo, where the painting is currently housed. The Deposition was restored in 1981 by Carlo Guido.5 The contract Rosso signed required him to paint, for low recompense,6 the Deposi tion from the Cross with other figures and images appropriate to the mystery of the event. The hope was expressed in the con tract that the painting would bring honor to the body of Christ.7 Does the inclusion of the ape answer these requirements? Scholarship regarding this figure is either silent or elliptical. Carroll, the organizer of a recent exhibition concerning Rosso's graphic work and the author of several ar ticles on the artist, calls it "the gruesome head"8 but does not suggest a meaning. Maetzke refers to the theme as an allegory of human tragedy, "dominate dalle forze del male qui rappresentate dal ghigno grottesco di quel volto di guerriero-scimmia,"9 but does not elaborate. Darragon offers the most intricate explanation, suggesting that the monkey is transformed into a symbol of hate, thereby making a mockery of the idea of symbolism.10 But, again, no evidence or parallel example is offered. Vasari, who knew both Borgo Sansepolcro and Rosso well and visited the artist while he was at
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Art history Meaning (semiotics) Allegory Painting Art media_common.quotation_subject media_common Exhibition Honor Tragedy Theme (narrative) Symbol

Subjects

Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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