Among the Cracks, beyond the Biases. Investigating Art Patronage in L’Aquila and its Contado: 1461–1529

Rossella Monopoli, M.A.

This thesis investigates art patronage in L’Aquila, the northern outpost of the Kingdom of Naples, in a period marked by the devastating earthquake of 1461 and by an environment permeated by Franciscan Observant preaching. The earthquake caused extensive losses, but it also prompted an extensive reconstruction of the building fabric and a flowering of the arts in the territory. The Observants made the city a crucial pilgrimage site among the so-called Terra Sancta Seraphica and the European routes of Christian devotion, and contributed to creating opportunities for artists and to influencing the nature of artistic production. For a complex combination of causes, there is very little visual and written material on L’Aquila, a fact that poses significant challenges to scholarship. Today the state of studies and the survival of sources are still dramatically deficient, especially when compared to other Italian centres. The dissertation considers links among production, patronage, politics, and religious orders, and seeks to provide a different and complementary angle of analysis to shed further light on the dynamics of patronage and of art production in L’Aquila in late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The approach also aims to take into account the active impact of loss, considering the complexity of the history of a place that has been hit hard by natural catastrophes, confined to the margins of the artistic historiography as part of the so-called periphery, and adversely affected by other intertwined historical events, which acted as further cesurae in the life of the territory.

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