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A Question of Style: Visualizing Politics in the Baptistery and Chapel of St. Isidore at San Marco, Venice

Stefania Gerevini, Università L. Bocconi, Summer Fellow 2016–2017

My project addresses questions of artistic interaction and political identity in the late medieval Mediterranean through analysis of the visual programs of the Baptistery and Chapel of St. Isidore at San Marco, Venice. The two rooms were embellished with extensive mosaic cycles during the dogate of Andrea Dandolo (1343–1354), and were pronounced by Hans Belting to be “the great enigma of Trecento art in Venice” because of their ostensible juxtaposition of contemporary Byzantine and western visual elements. This project attends to the nexus between aesthetics and politics by examining the two cycles and their composite visual language in the context of the increased geopolitical instability and social interconnectedness of the central and eastern Mediterranean in the mid-fourteenth century. I also consider institutional and legal reforms and the international conflicts Venice faced. My goal was to complete the research for an article on this subject, surveying the Otto Demus and San Marco Mosaics Project Papers and relevant sections of the Corpus for Wall Mosaics in the North Adriatic Area, and sharpen my understanding of the politics of style in the late medieval Mediterranean.