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Christ’s Descent into Limbo at the Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum: a singular work of art

Weston, Hazel (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This dissertation will focus on a painting in the Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum entitled Christ’s Descent into Limbo, attributed to Giovanni Bellini (c.1430-1516) by the museum. The painting is directly related to an engraving by Andrea Mantegna (1430/1-1506) of the same title. I will focus my research firstly on the problematic accounts in previous scholarly literature on the painting and then investigate the painting’s condition, materials and execution as I believe this has been somewhat overlooked by scholars. Following this I will then pay attention to the theological interpretation of the subject represented in the both the painting and print and how their meanings fundamentally differ from each other and from earlier representations of the subject both written and visual. I will demonstrate that the Bristol painting has specific differences, possessing detailed symbolism, from Mantegna’s print that illustrate decisively that the painting cannot be considered a ‘copy’ and was the work of an accomplished artist. This will lead to my final chapter in which I reach a conclusion on the attribution and dating of the Bristol painting by assessing the validity of all previous arguments for and against the attribution to Bellini, considering other possible authors of the painting and formalistic comparison of other works by Bellini.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Hemsoll, David E.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of History of Art
Subjects:ND Painting
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1181
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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