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

Weston, Hazel (2010). Christ’s Descent into Limbo at the Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum: a singular work of art. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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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: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting


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