Why has Jacopo been only recently discovered?


Hitherto Jacopo di Poggibonsi's oeuvre was unknown for two major reasons, both of which reflect on our need to reconsider fundamental assumptions.

First, a standard attention to "masters" undervalues the countless works produced for ordinary parish churches and homely interiors. An artist with higher ambitions than skills, Jacopo had been relegated to anonymous "school of" status. However, his name emerged from the archives and from a careful re-reading of texts such as the manual of his teacher Cennino Cennini. Employing the refined eye conceptualized by renowned pioneers Giovanni Morelli and Bernard Berenson, we can now restore a body of works to a named artist. The forthcoming publication of my book, The Jacopian Renaissance: New Light on an Old, but Neglected, Artist, takes him out of the obscure footnotes and museum storerooms.

Second, that life had been one of depression, setbacks, and suppressed love for another man. Whereas earlier scholars turned a blind eye to a biography that did not fit their preconceptions of artistic genius, in the twenty-first century we can recognize the parallels with Michelangelo. Thence we will, at last, see Jacopo's illuminating work and understand his fascinating life.

Contributed by Professor Patrizia Simondo, University of Michigan