Julian Gardner: Da altare d'oro a pala d'altare: Paolo Veneziano e la Pala d'Oro
Julian Gardner studied History at Balliol College Oxford and completed his Ph.D at the Courtauld Institute, where he taught for 8 years. In 1974 he became the founding Professor of History of Art at Warwick University. He was Pro-Rector at Warwick for 6 years, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Renaissance Élites and Court Cultures, at Warwick University. He was a member of the Curatorium of the Kunsthistorisches Institut 1993-2003. In 2000 he was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been Visiting Professor of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Bibliotheca Hertziana on 3 occasions, Visiting Professor at Harvard University and the Harvard Center for the Renaissance, Villa I Tatti.
The gold and enamelled altar frontal known as the Pala d'Oro was initially commissioned in Byzantium by Doge Ordelafo Falier. Over several centuries it was modified, and transformed from an altar-frontal into an altarpiece, placed beneath an elaborate ciborium on the high altar of San Marco in Venice. Doge Andrea Dandolo, a former Procurator of San Marco, (1343 -1354) was responsible for remounting the earlier enamels, and for commissioning Paolo Veneziano and his sons Luca and Giovanni to paint a cover, the Pala Feriale. While attention has recently been focused on Doge Dandolo as patron of the Pala d'Oro and its painted cover, insufficient study has been devoted its setting within San Marco, an apostolic church as well as the palatine chapel of the Doges, and locating the Pala among other European golden altars, either formally or functionally. The role of Paolo Veneziano has not been adequately examined nor has the reception of Byzantine enamels into the main stylistic current of Venetian painting in the Trecento been considered.
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