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Musical Symbolism in Larly

Renaissance Italian Painting



A424 Project 200S
Charl Lngela 1J8J488


Contents
List o Illustrations.........................................................................................................................3
Introduction....................................................................................................................................5
Chapter 1: A short history o angel musicians...........................................................................
Chapter 2: 1he unction o angel musicians ........................................................................... 13
Chapter 3: Larly Renaissance Italian paintings in the National Gallery.............................. 21
Chapter 4: Case study ................................................................................................................. 28
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................... 35
Bibliography................................................................................................................................. 36
Appendix A: Glossary ................................................................................................................ 39
Appendix B: Catalogue o selected paintings rom the National Gallery........................... 40
Index ............................................................................................................................................. 6



























ligure 1 ,Coer,: Matteo di Gioanni, 1be ...vvtiov of tbe 1irgiv, probably 144, tempera on wood, 331.5
x 14 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 1155
Illustrations
ligure 1 ,Coer,: Matteo di Gioanni, 1be ...vvtiov of tbe 1irgiv, probably 144,
tempera on wood, 331.5 x 14 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 1155.............................2
ligure 2: lilippino Lippi, 1be !or.bi of tbe g,tiav vtt Coa .i. ,detail,, about 1500, oil
and egg ,identiied, on wood, National Gallery, London, cat. 4905 ......................................6
ligure 3: Unknown artist, .vget btorivg tbe ir.t 1rvv, 11th century, manuscript
illumination rom 1he Apocalypse o Saint-Seer, ol. 13, Biblioteque Nationale, Paris.
....................................................................................................................................................... 10
ligure 4: Unknown artist, .rcbavget ]ibreet ,Gabriel,, 14th century, manuscript
illumination, Granger Collection, New \ork.......................................................................... 10
ligure 5: Giotto, 1be Mi..iov of tbe .vvvvciatiov to Mar, ,detail,, c.1305, resco, Scroegni
Chapel, Padua. ............................................................................................................................. 10
ligure 6: Giotto, arovcetti Pot,t,cb ,detail,, c 1334, tempera on wood, Baroncelli Chapel,
Santa Croce, llorence................................................................................................................. 11
ligure : Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Maaovva ritb .vget. ava aivt. ;Mae.ta) ,detail, c. 1335,
tempera on wood, Municipio, Massa Marittima. .................................................................... 11
ligure 8: Barnaba da Modena, Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv, detail o polyptych, 134, tempera
on poplar, size o detail approx. 28 x 36cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 292........... 12
ligure 9: Associate o Leonardo, probably Ambrogio de Predis, .v .vget iv Rea ritb a
vte, probably about 1490-9, oil ,identiied, on poplar, 118.8 x 61 cm, and .v .vget iv
Creev ritb a 1iette, about 1506, oil on poplar, 116 x 61 cm, National Gallery, London,
cat. 1661 & 1662.......................................................................................................................... 12
ligure 10: Gentile da labriano, Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv ritb .vget. ,central panel o the
1atte Rovita Pot,t,cb,, c. 1400-1410, tempera on panel, 15 x 80 cm, Brera Gallery, Milan
....................................................................................................................................................... 1
ligure 11: Benozzo Gozzoli, .vget. !or.biivg ,detail o 1igit of tbe bebera. ava .vget.
!or.biivg,, 1459-60, resco cycle, Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, llorence ............... 1
ligure 12: Lorenzo d'Alessandro da Sanseerino, 1be Marriage of t Catberive of ieva
,detail,, c. 1481-1500, tempera and oil on wood, painted surace 144.8 x 145.4 cm,
National Gallery, London, cat. 249 .......................................................................................... 18
ligure 13: Unknown artist, ]obavve. Oc/egbev vrrovvaea b, ivger., manuscript
illumination, Bibilioteque Nationale, Paris .............................................................................. 18
ligure 14: lra Angelico, Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv, 1434-35, tempera on panel, 240 x 211
cm, Muse du Loure, Paris ...................................................................................................... 19
ligure 15: Gioanni Bellini, Maaovva ava Cbita vtbrovea ritb aivt. ,San Giobbe
Altarpiece, ,detail,, c. 148, oil on panel, 41 x 258 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice.
....................................................................................................................................................... 20
ligure 16: lra lilippo Lippi, Maaovva ava Cbita vtbrovea ritb aivt. ava .vget., c. 1430,
tempera on panel, 43, x 34,3 cm, Museo Diocesano, Lmpoli............................................ 20
ligure 1: Benozzo Gozzoli, 1be 1irgiv ava Cbita vtbrovea avovg .vget. ava aivt.,
1461-2, tempera on wood, 161.9 x 10.2 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 283........... 24
ligure 18: Cosm 1ura, 1be 1irgiv ava Cbita vtbrovea, mid-140s, oil and egg ,identiied,
on poplar, 239 x 101.6 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 2......................................... 25
ligure 19: Lorenzo Costa, 1be 1irgiv ava Cbita ritb aivt. ,detail o central panel,, 1505,
oil ,identiied, on canas, transerred rom wood, National Gallery, London, cat. 629.1
....................................................................................................................................................... 25
ligure 20: Niccolo di Buonaccorso, 1be Marriage of tbe 1irgiv, about 1380, egg ,identiied,
on wood, 51 x 33 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 1109................................................ 25
ligure 21: Luca Signorelli, 1be .aoratiov of tbe bebera. ,detail,, about 1496, oil on wood,
National Gallery, London, cat. 1133 ........................................................................................ 26
ligure 22: Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, aivt ]obv tbe ati.t aecaitatea ,detail o predella to
1rit,cb: 1be ati.v of Cbri.t,, probably 138, tempera on wood, National Gallery,
London, cat. 59.4 ...................................................................................................................... 26
ligure 23: Jacobello del liore, 1be Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv, 1438, tempera on panel, 283 x
303 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice................................................................................. 2
ligure 24: lra Angelico, Cbri.t Ctorifiea iv tbe Covrt of earev ,central predella panel to the
ie.ote .ttariece), probably 1428-30, tempera on poplar, 32 x 3 cm, National Gallery,
London, cat. 663.1 ...................................................................................................................... 33
ligure 25: Lorenzo Costa, 1be .aoratiov of tbe bebera. ritb .vget., about 1499, oil on
wood, 52.4 x 3.5 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 3105 ................................................ 34
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 5
Introduction
Organology, the study o musical instruments, cannot always rely on the existence o
actual specimens. 1heir ragility, as well as the act that they simply wear out through use,
ensures that the number o ancient examples aailable or study is always limited. lor
example, the oldest instrument in the lill Collection at the Ashmolean Museum in
Oxord is a treble iol, made by Gioanni Maria da Brescia between 1500 and 1525, and
which, according to the collection`s catalogue, is one o the oldest anywhere in the
world.
1
Any student o instruments rom the quattrocento and earlier has to look
elsewhere or eidence.

1he richest sources are ound in the drawings and paintings o the period, but painters
and manuscript illuminators did not depict instruments simply in order to gie uture
students an accurate idea o their appearance. Also, as Lmanuel \internitz points out,
the image o an object may not hae been drawn rom the object itsel, but copied rom
a picture o it, and this again rom another`
2
, ineitably resulting in a less reliable
rendering o the actual instrument. Indeed, painters sometimes conjured up completely
imaginary instruments and the National Gallery in London owns one o the best
examples o these - lilippino Lippi`s 1be !or.bi of tbe g,tiav vttCoa .i., in which a
musician plays an extraordinary double-belled trumpet ,Iigure 2,. \internitz considers
this to hae been a ree interpretation o the classical double pipe called an avto.
3
.

Artists portrayed instruments because they were integral to the narratie or the
symbolism o the work, and this is, I eel, a part o art history that has perhaps been
neglected. \hy did the painter include a particular ensemble o instruments \hat does
the inclusion o music in a painting add to the message o that painting \hat does it say
about the tastes or aspirations o the person who commissioned the work

Perhaps these questions hae been under-inestigated because art historians are not
usually also specialist music historians. It works the other way round too: the catalogues
o paintings compiled by organologists almost neer make reerence to the wider context
o the works listed. Perhaps it is just one area o art history that, like so many others, still
oers much scope or interesting exploration, and not a little speculation.

1
Charlton, p. 1
2
Winternitz, p. 31
3
Winternitz, p. 213
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 6
1his project seeks to answer those questions in a ery limited way. It is organised as
ollows:

Chapter 1 traces the deelopment o musical angels in Italian art o the early renaissance.

Chapter 2 examines the unction o painted angel musicians in the quattrocento.

Chapter 3 examines whether or not the National Gallery`s collection o early Renaissance
Italian paintings can be considered to ulil, or the study o musical symbolism, its wider
ideal o proiding a comprehensie and representatie collection o \estern art.

Chapter 4 examines in some detail the musical symbolism in two o the National
Gallery`s paintings: lra Angelico`s Cbri.t Ctorifiea iv tbe Covrt of earev and Lorenzo
Costa`s 1be .aoratiov of tbe bebera. ritb .vget..

1he appendices include a glossary and a catalogue o the paintings examined or this
study.

ligure 2: lilippino Lippi, 1be !or.bi of tbe g,tiav vtt Coa .i. ,detail,, about 1500, oil and egg
,identiied, on wood, National Gallery, London, cat. 4905

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page:
Chapter J: A short history of angel musicians

By ar the most common way o representing the perormance o music in Renaissance
religious paintings was by picturing angels surrounding the Madonna and playing a
ariety o instruments, in depictions o the 1irgiv ava Cbita, the ...vvtiov or Corovatiov of
tbe 1irgiv. But it was not always so. 1he most important source or pre-Renaissance
musicologists, the Utrecht Psalter produced at Reims in the early ninth century
4
, depicts
biblical characters ,not angels, with instruments surrounding the Psalmist.

1he Lnglish word angel` is deried rom the Greek yya:o, used in the New 1estament
to denote diine messenger`
5
.

And it is as a messenger that the earliest musical angels
were depicted, blowing the Seen 1rumps o the Apocalypse described in the Book o
Reelation
6
,Iigure 3,. Interestingly, the depictions o trumpet-blowing angels are not
limited to Christian imagery: 1he Archangel Gabriel, sometimes personally associated
with the Last 1rump, is depicted as blowing a trumpet in a ourteenth-century Islamic
manuscript ,Iigure 4,.

1he idea o angels speciically as musicians praising God is not strictly Biblical, but was
deried mainly rom mystical lebrew manuscripts and early Christian writings. 1he
second Book o Lnoch describes the soul o Lnoch ,the great-grandather o Noah,
being transported through seeral stages o heaen, where he encounters both
instrumental and ocal angelic music:

v tbe via.t of tbe bearev. .ar arvea .otaier., .errivg tbe ora, ritb t,vava ava orgav., ritb
ivce..avt roice, ... rovaerfvt ava varrettov. i. tbe .ivgivg of tbo.e avget..



1he theory o the Celestial lierarchy, the diision o angels into ranks, was codiied by
Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, a shadowy but immensely inluential igure who
apparently lied in the ith or sixth century CL. Interestingly, Dionysius commented on
the appropriateness o painting angels:


4
Winternitz, p. 62
5
Strong's Number 32, e.g. in Luke 1:19
6
Revelations 8 through 11
7
2 Enoch 17:1 (probably late first-century CE), quoted in Barker, p. 160
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 8
o tbev, forv. |i.e. portrayals|, erev tbo.e ararv frov tbe tortie.t vatter, cav be v.ea, vot vvfittivgt,,
ritb regara to bearevt, beivg..`



St 1homas Aquinas deeloped and conirmed these ideas in his vvva 1beotogiae

, which
became the undamental theology o the Church by the middle o the thirteenth century.
1he theologian Aegiduis Carlerius made the explicit connection between the angelic
hierarchy and music itsel in a treatise o c.140, commenting that God made eerything
o a certain number.Angels, in act, comprise o a threeold hierarchy and nine
orders. Music is thereore generally accepted: by irtue o number it is ound
eerywhere`
10


According to \internitz, musical angels other than apocalyptical enter the scene with
the spread o the Cotaev egeva`
11
where the stories o the saints and the Virgin are
expounded, and, indeed, where the medieal use o instrumental music in church is
recorded:

1be fir.t vavver of vv.ic i. vaae b, tovcbivg of fivger., a. iv tbe .atter, ava .evbtabte iv.trvvevt.:
tbe .ecova i. tbe .ovg a. of tbe roice.
12


One o the earliest examples we hae o musical angels whose unction is to praise God,
rather than to announce the Apocalypse, is in Giotto`s monumental resco cycle painted
in the irst decade o the ourteenth century in the Scroegni Chapel in Padua, and which
was a major exposition o stories rom the Cotaev egeva. In a detail rom the Mi..iov of tbe
.vvvvciatiov ,Iigure S,, two angels play a double pipe and a recorder celebrating the
Christian redemption story. In act the cycle may be unique in that it additionally depicts
apocalyptic trumpeters ,in the a.t ]vagevevt scene,, as well as secular musicians in 1be
!eaaivg Proce..iov of tbe 1irgiv. 1o cap it all, Lleanora M. Beck demonstrates that the
Scroegni Chapel contains the earliest known depiction o music as allegory in a
Christian context: below the grisaille igure o ]v.tice are shown tiny igures o women
dancing to a tambourine, in contrast to the lack o music among the scattered igures

8
Dionysius, p. 151
9
Aquinas, Summa, :108
10
Cullington, pp. 33-4
11
Winternitz, p. 30
12
The Golden Legend, vol. 1: The Feast of the Dedication of the Temple
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 9
below v;v.tice.
13
Interestingly these are the only two o the Virtues and Vices series that
are complemented by exegetic scenes.

Giotto also produced one o the earliest examples o the angel concert`. 1he arovcetti
Pot,t,cb, painted in c.1334 or the altar o the Baroncelli Chapel in Santa Croce in
llorence, depicts the Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv surrounded by angels and saints ,Iigure 6,.
Symmetrically arranged either side o the Virgin and Christ, but in the oreground o the
scene, are perormers on trumpets and shawms, portatie organ and ielle, while other
angels appear to be singing.

\e cannot o course be sure that Giotto was the ather o modern musical iconography,
or, indeed, o angel concerts, in the same sense that he is regarded as the ather o
Renaissance painting. 1here are certainly other contemporary examples o angel concerts,
een outside llorence - or instance, Ambrogio Lorenzetti`s Mae.ta at Massa Marittima
also dates rom the mid 1330s and shows angels playing ielles and lutes ,Iigure 7,. 1his
may well relect a steadily growing tradition rather than a completely new iconography.

1he later quattrocento and earlier cinquecento certainly saw an increasing incidence o
the depiction o such concerts. Lxamples include Barnaba da Modena`s musical
Corovatiov in 134 ,Iigure 8, and lra Angelico`s scenes or San Domenico in liesole in
the irst hal o the quattrocento.

By the end o the quattrocento the angel-as-musician had achieed as much prominence
as an object o eneration as any saint. Leonardo`s amous 1irgiv of tbe Roc/. was lanked
by panels ,painted by members o his workshop, depicting musical angels occupying
architectonic spaces all to themseles ,Iigure 9,. 1hese angels are no longer the ethereal
spirits whose lower bodies trail o into Giottesque incorporeality, they are real, physical
beings with character and pathos, standing irmly on earth with us, with only their wings
to remind us o their association with heaen.

13
Beck, p. 39
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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 13
Chapter 2: 1he function of angel musicians

1he humanist scholar Johannes 1inctoris, regarded as the most important musical theorist o
the iteenth century`
14
wrote in around 140 that .painters, when wishing to depict the joys o
the blessed, paint angels playing arious musical instruments. 1he Church would not allow this
unless it belieed that the joys o the blessed are enhanced by music.`
15


Musical angels portrayed in art had two main unctions: as messengers and as praise-giers.
Artists could draw on long-established scriptural authority or these unctions. In Isaiah, the
angels sing the words that were to become the avctv. in the Mass:

.bore ..tooa tbe .erabiv.: eacb ove baa .i rivg.; ritb traiv be corerea bi. face, ava ritb traiv be corerea
bi. feet, ava ritb traiv be aia ft,. .va ove criea vvto avotber, ava .aia, ot,, bot,, bot,, i. tbe ORD of
bo.t.: tbe rbote eartb i. fvtt of bi. gtor,.
16


Seraphim are depicted in many paintings, with their six wings completely eneloping their
bodies, only their aces are usually isible and they are thus not usually represented playing
instruments. In an early quattrocento example by Gentile da labriano ,Iigure J0,, seraphim are
portrayed surrounding the throne o God the lather, while the band o angel musicians,
conentionally human in appearance, play at the eet o the central group.

1he most amiliar passage reerring to angelic hosts` praising God is ound in Luke at the
occasion o the Annunciation o the Natiity to the Shepherds:

.va .vaaevt, tbere ra. ritb tbe avget a vvttitvae of tbe bearevt, bo.t rai.ivg Coa, ava .a,ivg, Ctor, to Coa
iv tbe bigbe.t, ava ov eartb eace, gooa ritt torara vev.
1


1his song o the angels became the Ctoria o the Mass. Gien that angelic music was thereore
central to the Mass it ollows that the depiction o angelic music in altarpieces and other
deotional art had a sound theological and liturgical basis.


14
Cullington, p. 9
15
Cullington, p. 60
16
saiah 6:2,3.
17
Luke 2:13, 14
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 14
But the angels in the Bible .ivg their praises, there is no mention o their playing instruments.
low, then, did the angel musicians in paintings o the period come to be depicted with their
lutes, iols and harps Basing an entire iconography on an apocryphal dream o Lnoch would be
tentatie to say the least.

1he answer is ound in the musical perormance practice o the time. Sacred music was written
or choirs o singers, perhaps with organ accompaniment, but instruments were oten brought in
to reinorce the singers, doubling` the indiidual ocal lines - and, according to Donald Grout,
or especially estie occasions instruments were always brought in`.
18
It is hardly surprising
then that the portrayals o the Ascension or Coronation o the Virgin oten eatured angelic
instrumentalists, echoing in a depiction o heaen the actiities in the earthly church.

Vasari appreciated the realistic rendering o musical perormance. In his ife o lra Bartolomeo,
he describes ...a S. Bartholomew, with two children |angels| playing, one on a lute, and the other
on a lyre, .with a leg drawn up and his instrument resting on it, and with the hands touching
the strings in the act o running oer them, an ear intent on the harmony, the head upraised, and
the mouth slightly open, in such a way that whoeer beholds him cannot persuade himsel that
he should not also hear the oice.`
19


loweer, it is diicult to render the act o singing conincingly in paint, which may contribute
to the rise in angel instrumentalists. As Gottried Knapp puts it, an open mouth alone did not
produce music.`
20
Benozzo Gozzoli's choir ,Iigure JJ, illustrates this problem: the open mouths
o the singers make them look slightly startled, rather than rapt with adoration.

One solution was to put sheet music into the hands o the singers. Lorenzo d'Alessandro di
Sanseerino achieed this agreeably, depicting angels, without representing them open-mouthed,
singing rom hand-held scrolls o music complementing the small band o harp, lute and
recorder ,Iigure J2,.

But this particular work must be considered the exception, rather than the rule, or two reasons.
lirstly, chapel choirs o the time would typically hae read their music rom a single large copy

18
Grout, p. 167
19
Vasari, p. 675
20
Knapp, p.25
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 15
around which they would hae gathered
21
,Iigure J3,. Secondly, the irst collection o music
printed rom moeable type was not published until 1501.
22
Lorenzo`s work, executed around
1491, illustrating singers reading rom indiidual copies, would not hae been representatie o
common perormance practice.

1here are many reerences in the Bible to musical instruments, or instance Psalm 150:

Prai.e biv ritb tbe .ovva of tbe trvvet:
rai.e biv ritb tbe .atter, ava bar.
Prai.e biv ritb tbe tivbret ava aavce:
rai.e biv ritb .trivgea iv.trvvevt. ava orgav..
Prai.e biv vov tbe tova c,vbat.:
rai.e biv vov tbe bigb .ovvaivg c,vbat..
23


lere we hae the ull gamut o instrumental music: strings, wind and percussion ,not to mention
dance,. Angel concerts, thereore, perormed the primary deotional unction o encouraging the
people to join in their praise. Music in the Church was instrumental in inoking the presence o
God:

t cave erev to a.. .rbev tbe, tiftea v tbeir roice ritb tbe trvvet. ava c,vbat. ava iv.trvvevt. of vv.ic/,
ava rai.ea tbe ORD, .tbe gtor, of tbe ORD baa fittea tbe bov.e of Coa.
24


lra Angelico`s Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv altarpiece, or the side-altar, where public masses were said,
in San Domenico in liesole
25
, certainly relects the whole range o instrumental music ,Iigure
J4,: trumpets, lutes, ielles and a timbrel are all isible. San Domenico, out on the periphery o
llorence, had no wealthy patron
26
, and lra Angelico`s personal humility and commitment to the
Dominican ideal are legendary. One may suppose, then, that the inclusion o these particular
musical angels spring rom an unalloyed desire to praise God and excite deotion in the iewer.

1he Northern Italian courts, such as those at lerrara and Mantua, became the primary patrons
o the arts in the second hal o the Quattrocento. Music ormed a considerable portion o the

21
Grout, p. 167
22
Grout, p. 155
23
Psalm 150: 3-5
24
2 Chronicles 5: 13-14
25
Hood, p. 46
26
Hood, p. 47
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 16
arts expenditure o the nobility: Lrcole D`Lste, Duke o lerrara, in 146 was allocating almost
6 o his total household expenditure on music.
2
\ith such an emphasis on music in these
cities, it is unsurprising that it eatures prominently in a number o paintings executed there - or
instance the angel lutenists, iddlers and organist in 1ura`s Roreretta .ttariece ,Iigure J8,, and the
nine ranks o musical angels in Costa`s mystical .aoratiov of tbe bebera. (Iigure 2S).

1he 1ura work also highlights another symbolic unction o angelic music. 1he lutenist on the
let is tuning, not playing, the instrument, a metaphor or the celestial harmony that the Christ
Child brings.

1urning to a inal and perhaps more riolous reason or depicting musical angels, it appears that
in some cases at least, they were eidently inserted into paintings not so much to create or
heighten the sense o joy, but simply in order to lien up the proceedings ,one thinks here o the
mischieous winged vtti in Raphael`s i.tive Maaovva,. Gottried Knapp makes the point that in
examples o the acra Covrer.aiove, 'the holy men and women oten just stand around looking
bored, eidently unable to think o anything to say'
28
. Gioanni Bellini`s luminous, i otherwise
austere, San Giobbe altarpiece ,Iigure JS,, places the angels more or less at eye leel, proiding
some relie to the iewer rom the seerity o the igures who orm the subject o the painting.
An earlier example is a Maaovva vtbrovea ritb aivt. by lra lilippo Lippi ,Iigure J6,, where the
angels proide all the empathetic action within the composition - interacting with the Child as
well as proiding a musical accompaniment, whereas the two saints stare moodily out o the
picture.

27
Prizer, p. 136
28
Knapp, p. 30
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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 18


ligure 12: Lorenzo d'Alessandro da Sanseerino, 1be Marriage of t Catberive of ieva ,detail,, c. 1481-1500,
tempera and oil on wood, painted surace 144.8 x 145.4 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 249



ligure 13: Unknown artist, ]obavve. Oc/egbev vrrovvaea b, ivger., manuscript illumination, Bibilioteque
Nationale, Paris
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 19


ligure 14: lra Angelico, Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv, 1434-35, tempera on panel, 240 x 211 cm, Muse du Loure, Paris
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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 21
Chapter 3: Larly Renaissance Italian paintings in the
National Gallery featuring musical content

1he National Gallery`s collection includes 34 Italian Larly Renaissance religious paintings
which portray musical actiities ,listed in Appendix B,. 1aken together, these paintings
depict the ull range o instruments in use at the time.

1he modern iolin had not yet been ully deeloped but a number o its ancestors are
represented. 1hese are o two types: the rebec which had a pear-shaped body, a rounded
back and was o Arabic origin, and the generic riette or iddle which had a broader body
and a lat back. Both were bowed and played on the upper arm or under the chin
29
.

1he lute, an ancestor o the guitar, was the principal retted string instrument and was
extremely popular in secular music as well as in the Church
30
. In act more lutes are
depicted in these paintings than any other instrument. Katherine Powers makes a
conincing case or regarding the lute in portrayals o the Maaovva ava Cbita as
representing perormances o tavae. 1he tavaa is a sung praise or prayer - hence its
name`
31
and texts included speciic hymns to the Virgin. It was accompanied in the
quattrocento particularly on stringed instruments including the lute - which were not
otherwise used in liturgical music, wind instruments being preerred during the Mass -
and Renaissance iewers o such paintings, both laymen and clergy, would hae
recognised the reerence to a genre o music perectly amiliar to them.
32


1he psaltery was a type o zither, based on a ery old instrument related to the lyre or
harp.

1he shawm
33
was the principal woodwind instrument o the day. 1his eatured a double-
reed and inger-holes and was the orerunner o the modern oboe. Another wind
instrument commonly ound was the double-pipe or avto. which oten had a speciic
symbolic meaning within art as a signiier o erotic or romantic loe
34
, as such it is more

29
Bragard, pp. 56-7
30
Bragard, pp. 46-55
31
Powers, p. 59
32
Powers, pp. 59-60
33
Bragard, p. 58
34
Winternitz, pp. 49-52
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 22
oten represented in secular than in religious paintings.

Percussion instruments
35
included the timbrel ,similar to modern tambourines,, va/er.
which were small kettle-drums generally worn in pairs on the player`s belt, the tabor which
was a hand-held snare-drum, and hand-held cymbals.

1he organ was the principal type o keyboard instrument
36
. In painting it is usually
portrayed as a ortatire which was apparently small and light enough to be carried around,
een by an angel in light.

Students o the social history o art can gain a great deal o insight into how music was
perceied by patrons and artists by interpreting the way in which these actiities were
depicted. lor instance, i a group o musicians is depicted in a scene celebrating the
Virgin Mary, some insight as to the relatie importance o one type o instrument oer
another can be inerred rom the position o the player relatie to the Madonna igure.
1his is similar to the way that important saints tend to be depicted closer to Christ than
saints with secondary importance, as in a work by Benozzo Gozzoli ,Iigure J7,, where
SS Peter and John occupy positions o more prominence then do SS Zenobius and
Dominic. 1hus we might reasonably iner that the organ possessed more sacred status`
than other instruments, since organists are oten depicted seated at the eet o the Virgin
,being seated in itsel a signiier o status, rather than standing to one side. 1he NG
possesses a number o such depictions: see Iigure J8 and Iigure J9.

Similarly, the choice o instruments can be indicator o the mood o the picture: quiet
instruments such as lutes and ielles are likely be playing a lullaby ,Iigures J8 and J9
again,, whereas brash trumpets and shawms signiy a anare o praise ,Iigure 20,.
\internitz notes that in certain paintings one can discern an inner heaen` where the
loly lamily enjoys the praise o quiet instruments, as well as an outer heaen where the
heaenly host conducts an endless stream o loud` music shouting their praises.
3


Secular musicians are sometimes depicted in sacred paintings: or example, the bagpipe-
wielding shepherd in an .aoratiov of tbe Magi by Luca Signorelli ,Iigure 2J, or the iddler

35
Bragard, p. 62
36
Bragard, p. 74
37
Winternitz, pp. 145-147
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 23
accompanying Salome`s dance in the scene o the death o John the Baptist ,Iigure 22,.

A musical instrument can also be an attribute o a saint or prophet, the point being not
to suggest musical perormance, but to identiy the subjects. Lxamples rom the
National Gallery depicting a igure o King Daid holding a psaltery include Botticini`s
1be ...vvtiov of tbe 1irgiv and lra Angelico`s 1be orervvver. of Cbri.t. St Cecilia, the
patron saint o music, is traditionally portrayed with a keyboard, but appears in Italian
painting with this attribute only rom the early sixteenth century onwards.

Among the 34 selected paintings, llorence is heaily represented, as that city inariably is
in any general Renaissance collection, comprising more than hal ,18,. 1his is ollowed by
lerrara ,4,, Siena ,4,, other Northern city-states ,5 in total, and other regions ,3,.

1here is one apparent gap in the collection: Venetian painting with musical content is
largely unrepresented. A study o the National Gallery catalogue reeals that it owns 36
Venetian paintings made prior to 1500, but the only musical` one is 1be Dorvitiov ava
...vvtiov of tbe 1irgiv by Gerolamo da Vicenza, who painted it there in 1488. 1his is a
highly idiosyncratic work, ull o mystical symbolism, and cannot be said to be
representatie o Venetian painting in general, especially since, as \internitz notes, the
.acre covrer.aiovi and their small ensembles or single angels playing the lute` appear
chiely in the Venetian realm`
46
. \e do know that the Bellini amily painted a number o
conentional musical angels, and Jacobello del liore produced a magniicent Venetian
Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv in 1438 eaturing a seated angel orchestra ,Iigure 23,.

1he National Gallery cannot thereore be said to hae a truly representatie selection o
Larly Renaissance Italian depictions o music, but this lacuna can hardly hae been
anticipated when the collection was being assembled, and serious organologists would in
any case not limit themseles to a single museum`s collection when conducting their
research.

46
Winternitz, p. 30
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 24


ligure 1: Benozzo Gozzoli, 1be 1irgiv ava Cbita vtbrovea avovg .vget. ava aivt., 1461-2,
tempera on wood, 161.9 x 10.2 cm, National Gallery, London, cat. 283

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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 2









ligure 23: Jacobello del liore, 1be Corovatiov of tbe 1irgiv, 1438, tempera on panel, 283 x 303 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia,
Venice
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 28
Chapter 4: Case study

1he 34 paintings selected or this study illustrate 190 instances o musical actiity. 1wo works
account or more than a third o these: lra Angelico`s Cbri.t Ctorifiea iv tbe Covrt of earev, which
depicts 32 angels playing 13 dierent kinds o instruments, and Lorenzo Costa`s .aoratiov of tbe
bebera. ritb .vget., which has more perormers ,35, but ewer types o instruments ,9,. 1he two
pictures are ery dierent and yet hae some signiicant similarities.

lra Angelico`s panel depicts a total o 144 igures, i we include Christ - a number o some
theological signiicance, but perhaps beyond the scope o this project, except to note that it can
surely not hae been an accidental number. All o the angels - musicians and others - are essential
parts o the work: the only action depicted is worship. Vasari says that ...the innumerable little
igures. in a Celestial Glory, are so beautiul, that they appear truly to belong to Paradise, nor can
any man. eer hae his ill o gazing on them.`
4
.

\e can identiy St Michael with his sword and helmet, to the right o Christ at the head o the
middle row
48
. Another angel, in the middle row on the let, holds what appears to be a golden disc or
sphere. 1his angel is not mentioned in any o the related literature held by the National Gallery.
loweer, Cardile points out that Christ, .is a direct symbol o the Lucharist in his setting o rays
in the orm o a host`
49
. It seems likely thereore that the object held by this angel is in act a
Lucharistic host, and is reminding the iewer, who might be oer-concentrating on the angels, o the
main subject o the painting. Since the panel is a predella, this angel may also hae been at the eye-
leel o the celebrant when, acing the altarpiece, he eleated the host himsel.

1urning to the musical angels, lra Angelico has included nearly all the dierent instruments known
at the time: rebecs, iddles, harps, lutes, psalteries, organs, trumpets, shawms, tambourines, double-
pipe, cymbals and tabor played with and without an accompanying pipe. In act the only major
instruments not included are bagpipes, but Mary Rasmussen`s iconography does not in act list any
painting by lra Angelico as depicting these instruments
50
, and it may be that bagpipes were not
considered suitable instruments or angels to play by the early 15
th
century
51
.


47
Vasari, p. 405
48
Davies (1961), p. 16
49
Cardile, p. 95
50
Rasmussen (2005), http://www.unh.edu/music/con/ibpis.htm, accessed 28 August 2005
51
See Appendix B
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 29
\hat, then, prompted lra Angelico`s choice o instruments Psalm 150 lists ,in the Authorised
Version, trumpet, psaltery and harp, timbrel, stringed instruments and organs, and loud` and high-
sounding` cymbals. Stringed instruments` would describe rebecs and iddles as well as lutes.
1imbrel` is an old word or tambourine`.

1he psalmist mentions neither pipe nor shawm. But it was the Latin Bible that lra Angelico read,
and the word translated as organs` in Lnglish is rendered organo` in the Vulgate, which has the
meaning o a pipe as well as an organ ,which is no more than a set o pipes ater all,. In the lebrew
in which the Psalms were written the word here is , pronounced oo-gawb`, and has the
same dual meaning as organo`, iz. a pipe, or piped instrument. A pan-pipe would also be
suiciently described by this word.
52


Ps150 does not mention the pipe-and-tabor, but it does mention dance`. Groe Music deines the
pipe-and-tabor as a pair o musical instruments consisting usually o a three-hole lute and a snared
drum played together by one person cbieft, to roriae vv.ic for aavcivg`
53
,italics mine,. An educated
Renaissance iewer o these instruments in the painting would hae immediately recognised the
reerence to dance
54
, and indeed the angels low across the oreground o the work in as much a
dance as a procession: and at their head ,right centre, is the pipe-and-tabor player.

Gien, then, that all the instruments in the painting are accounted or in both the Latin and lebrew
ersions o Psalm 150, we can show that, i there was an intention by the artist to include a particular
Biblical reerence or the music, it would be Psalm 150, since no other passage in the Bible lists this
particular combination o instruments and dance.

1he arrangement o the musicians is interesting. 1here are no instrumentalists at all in the top row o
angels on either side. 1he top let row are dressed in red or pink, and the top right row all in blue.
None o the other groupings are colour-coordinated in this way, and the conclusion is that the top
rows thereore represent seraphim and cherubim. According to lerguson, in the lirst lierarchy the
Seraphim, representaties o Diine Loe, are usually painted in red colour... Cherubim,
representing Diine \isdom, are portrayed in golden yellow or in blue`
55
. I the two top rows do
indeed depict seraphim and cherubim, the painting may be read as at least partially showing the

52
Strong's Number 05748: the definition is given as 'perhaps a flute, reed-pipe, or panpipes'.
53
See Appendix A, definition of 'pipe-and-tabor'
54
Baxandall, p. 109: 'The Quattrocento man. is a church-going businessman with a taste for dancing' heads up a chapter
essentially defending that statement.
55
Ferguson, p. 97
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 30
celestial hierarchy, presumably rom let to right and top to bottom. \hile it is impossible to
separate all the other ranks o angels in this work, it could certainly be said that the playing o music
was thereore conined to the lower orders` o angels in leaen. 1his idea o status would also be
consistent with the other panels in the predella, since the panels either side o the centre depict
patriarchs and saints, and the outer two members o the Dominican amily, ensuring, as \illiam
lood puts it, that the heaenly company is strictly segregated according to rank`
56
.

On the other hand, no inerence can be drawn about the relatie importance o instruments rom
their position in the painting. String, wind and percussion instruments appear in all three lower rows,
and while lra Angelico has partly ollowed conention by placing two organists at the eet o Christ
directly in the centre o the painting, normally a sign o their pre-eminence, he suberts the model by
placing another organ in the second row rom the top on the let.

1he existing literature dealing with Lorenzo Costa`s .aoratiov of tbe bebera. ritb .vget. is pitiully
small. Apart rom Cecil Gould`s National Gallery catalogue entry
5
, it is mentioned in a ootnote in
C. Brown`s doctoral thesis on Costa
58
and in the appendix in Negro and Roio`s recent exhaustie
monograph
59
, all o which deal mainly with questions o its attribution, although all agree on its
lerrarese proenance. It is, howeer, accepted as autograph by Roberto Longhi in his Officiva
errare.e ,1934, in which he describes it as a pearl o the room |una perla da gabinetta|
60
.

It is a small work, measuring 52 by 3 cm, and was presumably intended or priate use. Although
this particular painting is not mentioned in his ire., Vasari does comment that in lerrara, in the
houses o noblemen. there are works by |Costa`s| hand which are held in great eneration`
61
. \e
can surmise that its original location was in a priate chapel o some splendid amily or perhaps in
the chambers o a member o the clergy.

\hat is signiicant is that there are three distinct areas o the work. 1he central scene, o the
adoration o the shepherds, is ramed on both sides by groups o musical angels who appear in a
kind o dream sequence`. At the top is a urther, separate group. 1hese hae no inolement in the
real space o the main narratie and present a ery dierent type o angel iconography to that
suggested by lra Angelico, whose angels are an integral part o his narratie.

56
Hood, p. 68
57
Gould, pp. 45-6
58
Brown C., p. 150
59
Negro, p. 143
60
Quoted in Negro, p. 143 and in Gould, p. 45
61
Vasari, p. 481
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 31

1he musical angels themseles are arranged in two columns o nine choirs` either side o the
Natiity scene. Lach choir plays its own instrument: going rom the top, these are lyres, iddles,
lutes, tabors, rebecs, organs, alto shawms, tambourines and tenor shawms - all quiet instruments.
1he right side is almost a mirror-image o the let.

It would be diicult not to equate the depiction o nine separate choirs with the Dionysian celestial
hierarchy. loweer, Costa does not keep to the dress code o conention. 1he highest rank -
seraphim - are indeed dressed in red robes, but the next order down ,Cherubim, are wearing green,
not blue or gold. Costa, like lra Angelico, does not depict the higher angels as physically dierent.

I the nine choirs proide a kind o soundtrack to the picture without really being inoled in the
scene, a direct contrast to them is proided by two more and completely unconnected angel
musicians, who unite the earthly scene with the top quarter o the painting. 1hese two stand on
rocky pillars which are part o the natiity bower, directing their bannered trumpets up toward the
uppermost group. 1his shows Christ carrying the cross surrounded by yet more angels bearing more
instruments - this time o the Passion: the inegary sponge on a spear, the pincers which remoed
the nails, the column at which Christ was scourged, and so on. At the eet o this group are two
winged putti bearing scrolls. No writing is decipherable, yet the message is clear - the natiity scene
below leads inexorably to the Passion and Resurrection aboe, ulilling the mission o Christ.

In act, rather than depict the psalmist`s gloriication as did lra Angelico, Costa presents a neat
summary o the whole o the Christian theology, in one small painting. Christ was born and died,
Christ has risen, Christ shall come again: the central mystery o aith known to all Catholics, recited
in the Mass. le also manages, unusually, to include in a single work both praise-giing angel
musicians, and apocalyptic or heraldic messengers with trumpets.

\homeer it was that commissioned this work would hae been amiliar with the central Christian
theology, not only with the basic articles o aith but with the interpretations o Dionysius and
Aquinas, the great Dominican theologian. \e know rom Vasari that Costa worked in the Church o
S. Domenico in lerrara
62
, perhaps it was or some person connected with the Dominicans that Costa
executed this work, giing us yet another connection to lra Angelico, a Dominican riar all his
working lie.


62
Vasari, p. 480
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 32
\e shall probably neer know who the original owner was. loweer, Costa painted many works
which included musical iconography. Perhaps his best-known painting is 1be Covcert in the National
Gallery which, although not considered or this study on the grounds that it is wholly secular, gies
an intricately detailed representation o three people singing rom accurately rendered sheet music to
lute accompaniment. lis use o music in the .aoratiov of tbe bebera. is a ine example o the
contrast obsered by \internitz between an inner, introspectie heaen, represented by the nine
choirs and their quiet instruments, and the outer, celebratory and glorious heaen, heralded by the
brash sound o the trumpets.
63


63
Winternitz, pp. 145-7
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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 34





ligure 25: Lorenzo Costa, 1be .aoratiov of tbe bebera. ritb .vget., about 1499, oil on wood, 52.4 x 3.5 cm,
National Gallery, London, cat. 3105
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 35
Conclusion

\e hae seen that the portrayal o music-making in religious painting has a long history, starting in
the pre-Renaissance era. Angel praise-musicians, howeer, only began to be depicted in the early
Renaissance, when artists made use o the expanded theology made popular by the spread o the
Cotaev egeva. lrom the time o Giotto, the portrayal o angels as soloists, in small ensembles and in
large concert groups became increasingly popular especially in paintings celebrating the Virgin Mary.

Artists made angel musicians releant to contemporary worship by giing them modern instruments
o eery type. lar rom just adding decoratie erisimilitude, music became part o the central
iconography o religious painting. Speciic symbolic messages were coneyed by the act o tuning,
the combinations o instruments, and the placing o the musicians relatie to each other and to other
igures within the works.

1he inclusion o music could display the learning and humanist sophistication o the patron, as well
as enhancing the deotional aspect o a work o art.

1he National Gallery in London proides a broad representatie sample o early Italian musical
symbolism, but with an apparent gap representing the corpus o Venetian painting beore 1500.

linally, a case study showed that close analysis o the musical actiity within gien paintings can
bring a deeper understanding o the motiation o the artist or patron when planning, executing and
displaying the work o art, a acet o art history that perhaps has not yet been suiciently
inestigated.





|6000 words exactly|
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 36
Bibliography

Primary sources:

Aquinas, St 1homas ,1920 edn, vvva 1beotogica, trans. lathers o the Lnglish Dominican
Proince ,online edition, http:,,www.newadent.org,summa,, accessed 23 July 2005,
Blue Letter Bible Institute, 1be tve etter ibte ,online edition o the Authorised Version,
http:,,www.blueletterbible.org,, accessed 4 September 2005,
Carlerius, Aegidius ,1999 edn, 1ractatus de duplici ritu cantus ecclesiasti in diinis oiciis` in
D. Cullington ,trans. and ed., 1bat tiberat ava rirtvov. art: tbree bvvavi.t treati.e. ov vv.ic: .egiaiv.
Carteriv., ]obavve. 1ivctori., Carto 1atgvtio, Belast, Uniersity o Ulster
Dionysius the Areopagite ,198 edn, 1be Covtete !or/. trans. and ed. Colm Luibheid, New
\ork, Paulist Press
Internet Sacred 1exts Archie, 1vtgate ;ativ) ibte ,online edition o the Vulgate,
http:,,www.sacred-texts.com,bib,ul,index.htm, accessed 4 September 2005,
Jacobus da Voragine ,1900 edn, 1be Cotaev egeva, trans. \illiam Caxton, ed. l. l. Lllis
,online ersion, http:,,www.ordham.edu,halsall,basis,goldenlegend,GoldenLegend-
Volume1.htm, accessed 4 September 2005,
1inctoris, Johannes ,1999 edn, Complexum eectuum musicus` in D. Cullington ,trans. and
ed., 1bat tiberat ava rirtvov. art: tbree bvvavi.t treati.e. ov vv.ic: .egiaiv. Carteriv., ]obavve. 1ivctori.,
Carto 1atgvtio, Belast, Uniersity o Ulster
Unknown author ,1912 edn, 1be oo/ of tbe ecret. of vocb, trans. R. l. Charles, London,
Society or Promoting Christian Knowledge
Vasari, Giorgio ,1996 edn, ire. of tbe Paivter., cvttor. ava .rcbitect., trans. Gaston de Vere,
London, Daid Campbell

Secondary sources:

Baker, C. and lenry, 1 ,eds, ,2005, 1be ^atiovat Catter, Covtete ttv.tratea Catatogve ov CD
ROM, London, National Gallery Publications
Barker, M. ,2004, .v traoraivar, Catberivg of .vget., London, MQ Publications
Basile, G. ,ed, ,2002, Ciotto: 1be re.coe. of tbe croregvi Cbaet iv Paava, Milan, Skira
Baxandall, M. ,1988, Paivtivg ava erievce iv ifteevtbcevtvr, tat,, Oxord and London,
Oxord Uniersity Press
Beck, L. ,2004, Justice and Music in Giotto`s Scroegni Chapel lrescoes`, Mv.ic iv .rt,
ol.29, no 1-2, pp.38-51
Bomord, D. et at. ,1989, .rt iv tbe Ma/ivg: tatiav Paivtivg before 1100, London, National
Gallery Publications
Bragard, R. and De len, l. ,196, Mv.icat v.trvvevt. iv .rt ava i.tor,, London, Barrie and
Rockli
Brown, C. ,1966, orevo Co.ta, PhD thesis, New \ork, Columbia Uniersity
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 3
Brown, l. M. and Lascelle, J. ,192, Mv.icat covograb,: . Mavvat for Catatogvivg Mv.icat
vb;ect. iv !e.terv .rt before 100, Cambridge MA, larard Uniersity Press
Cardile, P. ,194, ra .vgetico`. bo at av Dovevico iv ie.ote, PhD thesis, New laen, \ale
Uniersity
Charlton, J. ,1985, 1iot., 1iotiv. ava 1irgivat., Oxord, Ashmolean Museum
Daies, M. ,1961, 1be artier tatiav cboot., London, National Gallery Publications
Daies, M. and Gordon, D. ,1988, 1be art, tatiav cboot. before 1100, London, National
Gallery Publications
Duchet-Suchaux, G. and Pastoureau, M. ,1994, 1be ibte ava tbe aivt., Paris, llammarion
Dunkerton, J. et at. ,1991, Ciotto to Dvrer: art, Revai..avce Paivtivg iv tbe ^atiovat Catter,, New
laen & London, \ale Uniersity Press
Lgan, P. ,1961, Concert` scenes in paintings o the Italian renaissance`, ]ovrvat of tbe
.vericav Mv.icotogicat ociet,, ol.14, no.2, pp.184-195
lerguson, G. ,reised edn, ,199, igv. ava ,vbot. iv Cbri.tiav .rt, New \ork, Oxord
Uniersity Press USA
Godt, I. ,1989, Lrcole`s Angel Concert`, 1be ]ovrvat of Mv.icotog,, ol., no.3, pp.32-42
Gould, C. ,1962, 1be iteevtb Cevtvr, tatiav cboot., London, National Gallery Publications
Grubb, N. ,1980, .vget., New \ork, Abbeille Press
lood, \. ,1993, ra .vgetico at av Marco, London, BCA
Knapp, G ,1999, .vget., .rcbavget. ava .tt tbe Covav, of earev, Munich, Prestel
Lamborn \ilson, P. ,1980, .vget.: Me..evger. of tbe Coa., London, 1hames & ludson
Langmuir, L. ,1999, .vget., London, National Gallery Publications
McKinnon, J. ,1968, Musical Instruments in Medieal Psalm Commentaries and Psalters`,
]ovrvat of tbe .vericav Mv.icotogicat ociet,, ol.21, no.1, pp.3-20
---- ,198, Representations o the Mass in Medieal and Renaissance Art`, ]ovrvat of tbe
.vericav Mv.icotogicat ociet,, ol.31, no.1, pp.21-52
Matthiesen, P. ,1984, rov or.o to Ce.are D`.te: 1be cboot of errara 11:012, London, 1he
Courtauld Institute
Negro, L. and Roio, N. ,2001, orevo Co.ta 1101::, Modena, Artioli
Nret, G. ,2004, .vget., Cologne, 1aschen
Pope-lennessy, J. ,194,: ra .vgetico, 2
nd
edn, London, Phaidon
Powers, K. ,2004, Music-Making Angels in Italian Renaissance Painting: Symbolism and
Reality`, Mv.ic iv .rt, ol.29, no.1-2, pp.52-63
Prizer, \. ,1989, North Italian Courts, 1460-1540` in I. lenlon ,ed., Mav c Mv.ic: 1be
Revai..avce, London, Macmillan, pp.133-155
Rasmussen, M. ,194,, Lstablishing an Index o Musical Instruments and Musical Subjects
in \orks o \estern Art`, ^ote., 2
nd
ser., Vol.30 no.3, pp.460-3
---- ,ed., ,2005,, Mar, Ra.vv..ev`. Mv.icat covograb,, web page,
http:,,www.unh.edu,music,igre.htm, Uniersity o New lampshire, accessed 28 August
2005
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 38
Strong, J. ,2003 edn., trovg`. bav.tire Covcoraavce of tbe ibte, online edition,
http:,,www.blueletterbible.org,cgi-bin,strongs.pl, Blue Letter Bible Institute, accessed 28
August 2005
Underhill, J. ,1995, .vget., Shatesbury, Llement Books
\internitz, L. ,199, Mv.icat iv.trvvevt. ava tbeir .,vboti.v iv re.terv art, 2
nd
edn, New laen &
London, \ale Uniersity Press

Illustration sources:

All the illustrations o works located in the National Gallery, London, were taken rom the
National Gallery`s Covtete ttv.tratea Catatogve ov CDROM.
ligure 3 taken rom the website o the Medieal Institute at the Uniersity o Notre-Dame,
Illinois, http:,,www.nd.edu,~medllib,apocalypse,seer,13.html, accessed 28 August
2005
ligure 4 taken rom Underhill, p. 16
ligure 5 taken rom Basile, p. 159
ligure 13 taken rom 1be ]obavve. Oc/egbev ove Page website by Scott Daid Atwell, PhD at
lerris State Uniersity, http:,,library.erris.edu,scott,ockeghem.html, accessed 28 August
2005
All other illustrations were taken rom the \eb Gallery o Art,
http:,,www.wga.hu,index1.html, accessed on 23 July 2005 and again on 28 August 2005.
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 39
Appendix A: Glossary

1his glossary is intended to proide a brie description o some o the musical instruments
mentioned in this project or those who may not be amiliar with them.

All the descriptions are sourced rom Groe Music Online ed. L. Macy ,accessed 23
rd
August 2005,,
http:,,www.groemusic.com. Authors o the indiidual Groe entries are noted ater each
description.

Name Definition
Aulos ,double-
pipe,
A wind instrument consisting o two pipes and two ,probably double, reeds. O Ancient Greek
origin. ,Annie Blis,
Buisine Medieal name or a herald`s trumpet, it was long and straight with a cylindrical or slightly
conical bore. Pictures indicate that the instrument was oten one to two or more metres long,
and that its tube o brass or siler was made up o seeral joints, their junctions concealed by
ornamental bosses. 1he bell joint was lared to arying degrees. ,loward Mayer Brown,
Crumhorn A double-reed wind-cap instrument with cylindrical bore and a cured lower end to the body.
,Barra R. Boydell,
liddle A generic term or any chordophone played with a bow. It includes all such instruments,
whether o art or popular music, and hybrid types which do not conorm to any more
standardized pattern. Colloquially, iddle` is oten used or a member o the iolin amily.
,Mary Remnant,
Author's note: In this study I hae used the term iddle` to denote any bowed instrument held
on the upper arm or under the chin ,to distinguish it rom the iol,, and which has a lat back
,to distinguish it rom the rebec,.
Lute A plucked chordophone, made o wood, o Middle Lastern origin. In Renaissance Lurope its
chie characteristics were: a aulted back, pear-shaped in outline and more or less semicircular
in cross-section, made up o a number o separate ribs, a neck and ingerboard tied with gut
rets, a lat soundboard or belly in which is cared an ornate soundhole or rose`, a bridge, to
which the strings are attached, glued near the lower end o the soundboard, a pegbox, usually at
nearly a right angle to the neck, with tuning-pegs inserted laterally, and strings o gut, usually
arranged in paired courses. ,Ian larwood, Diana Poulton,Daid Van Ldwards,
Nakers Small kettledrums o the medieal period, o Arabian or Saracen origin. 1hey were either
suspended in ront o the player by means o a strap around the waist or the shoulder, carried
on the back o an apprentice who marched in ront, set on a low wall or balcony, or placed on
the ground. ,James Blades,Ldmund A. Bowles,
Rebec A bowed instrument with gut strings, normally with a aulted back and tapering outline. ,Mary
Remnant,
Pipe-and-1abor A pair o musical instruments consisting usually o a three-hole lute and a snared drum played
together by one person chiely to proide music or dancing. ,Anthony C. Baines,
Psaltery An instrument o the zither amily. It consists o a raised piece o wood, or a wooden box with
soundholes, without a neck, it may be rectangular, triangular or trapezoid in shape. ,James \.
McKinnon,
Shawm A woodwind instrument, usually with a double reed, a more or less conical bore expanding into
a bell, and inger-holes. An ancestor o the modern oboe. ,Anthony C. Baines,Martin
Kirnbauer,
Viol A bowed string instrument with rets. It is usually played held downwards on the lap or
between the legs ,hence the name iola da gamba`, literally leg iol`,. It appeared in Lurope
towards the end o the 15th century and subsequently became one o the most popular o all
Renaissance and Baroque instruments and was much used in ensemble music. ,Ian \oodield,

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 40
Appendix B: Catalogue of selected paintings from the National
Gallery
1he table on the ollowing page shows the number o each type o instrument ,including singers,
depicted in the 34 paintings selected or this study. liddle` reers to any bowed string instrument
,excepting rebec., played under the chin in the manner o the modern iolin, this distinguishes them
rom the iol, which is played upright, in the manner o the modern `cello, with the base o the
instrument resting on the knee or on the loor.

1am` indicates the timbrel or tambourine. Other` reers to the imaginary instruments in the works
by a ollower o lilippo Lippi and by Gerolamo da Vicenza.

Singers hae not been counted in lra Angelico`s Cbri.t Ctorifiea, irtually all the non-instrumentalists
,111 o them, could be said to be singing in that work, and documenting this would hae skewed the
totals signiicantly.

lrom the totals by instrument it can be seen that the lute is by ar the most numerous, ollowed by
the trumpet, shawm, iddle, lyre and organ.

A little inestigation reeals that nearly all the paintings o the Virgin and Child include at least one
lute, and all o these paintings eature small ensembles, producing sot or silery tone, suitable or
soothing a baby. 1he trumpet, on the other hand, appears only in paintings o celebration and praise,
consistent with its role as a heraldic instrument.

An interesting obseration concerns the use o the bagpipe. It appears in two .aoratiov. of tbe Magi
and one .aoratiov of tbe bebera., played by rustic` secular characters, but it also appears in two
Corovatiov. of tbe 1irgiv, played by angels. loweer, the two Corovatiov. ,by Barnaba da Modena and
Jacopo di Cione, were painted in the 130s, whereas the rustic` bagpipers date rom the late
quattrocento. 1he sample is too small to draw a deinite conclusion, but it would be worth
inestigating oer a larger range o works whether the bagpipe gradually lost some o its appeal or
painters as a sacred` instrument as the Renaissance gathered momentum.

lollowing the table is a detailed catalogue entry or each painting selected or the study. 1he method
o cataloguing has been deried rom the method detailed in Brown and Lascelles ,192,. Details or
each work were sourced rom Baker and lenry ,2005, with musical details noted by the author.
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Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 42


Symbol: Botticini-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BOTTICINI, Francesco, c.1446-1497
Date: 1490 School: Italian-Florence
Title: St Jerome in Penitence with Saints & Donors
Medium: Tempera on poplar (?) Size: 235 x 258 cm
including Irame
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG227.1-2
Description: Saint Jerome is on a panel in the centre. To either side are
Saints Damasus (as Pope), Eusebius, Paula and Eustochium
(with a lily). Two donors, possibly Iather and son, kneel at
prayer in the Ioreground.

Six angels in Ilight, three either side oI the arch, play (L to
R):
Trumpet
Shawm
Psaltery (incurved trapezoidal)
Fiddle, slightly waisted, pair oI C-soundholes, sloping
shoulders
Lute
Trumpet

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 119-22
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 54

Subjects: Altarpieces
Angel concert

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 43

Symbol: LorenzoAS-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: LORENZO Alessandro di Sanseverino, active 1468, died
1503

Date: 1481-1500 School Italian-Marches
Title: The Marriage oI Saint Catherine oI Siena
Medium: Tempera and oil on wood Size: 144.8 x 145.4 cm
(painted surIace)
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG249
Description: Inscribed on the Virgin's halo: .AVE. (MARIA) GRATIA.
PLENA. DO.(MINUS TECUM) (Hail Mary, Iull oI Grace,
the Lord |is with you|); and on the Christ Child's halo:
(EGO) SVM LVX (MVNDI) (I am the Light oI the World).
The haloes oI the saints are inscribed with their names:
SANTA. K|A|TERINA. DE SEN|IS|; .SANCTVS.
DOMINICVS.; S. AVGVSTINVS. Signed on the centre oI
the throne's base: LAVR/ENTIVS.I.I. / SEVERINAS /
PI|N|SIT (Lorenzo da Sanseverino the second painted this).

Saint Dominic (1170-1221, the Iounder oI the Dominican
Order oI Preachers), leIt, raises his hands in amazement as
his Iollower, the Dominican tertiary Saint Catherine oI
Siena (1347?-80), has a ring placed on her Iinger by the
Christ Child - a reIerence to her vision in which she
received this token oI his love - in imitation oI the divine
Iavour conIerred on Saint Catherine oI Alexandria. Saint
Augustine (354-430), right, stands behind an unnamed
Dominican beatus, probably the Blessed Costanzo da
Fabriano (died 1481/2).

Above and behind the Virgin, arranged in a semicircle, Irom
leIt to right, standing angel musicians, with other angels
behind, as Iollows:
Five singers, singing Irom two hand-held music sheets
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Small lute
Recorder

Bibl.: Davies (1961), p. 315
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 44

Symbol: CioneJ&shop-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Jacopo di CIONE, probably active 1362; died 1398/1400
Date: 1370 School: Italian/Florence
Title: Coronation oI the Virgin
Medium: Egg (identiIied) on poplar Size: 206.5 x 113.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG569
Description: The Virgin Mary is crowned Queen oI Heaven by her Son
Jesus Christ, in the presence oI saints (NG 569.2-3) and
choirs oI angels with musical instruments at her Ieet, as
Iollows:
Portative organ
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Small lute
Fiddle (non-waisted, played under chin, view oI underside
only, Ilat back)
Psaltery (trapezoidal)
Bagpipe, chanter and single drone

Bibl.: BomIord et al (1989), pp. 156-89
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 232-4
Davies (1988), pp. 45-54

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 45

Symbol: CioneJ&shop-002 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Jacopo di CIONE, probably active 1362; died 1398/1400
Date: 1370 School: Italian/Florence
Title: Seraphim, Cherubim & Adoring Angels
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 87 x 37.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG571
Description: Seraphim, cherubim and adoring angels with musical
instruments and incense-burners originally Ilanked The
Trinity (NG 570) on the leIt

Musical instruments as Iollows:
Small lute

Bibl.: BomIord et al (1989), pp. 156-89
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 232-4
Davies (1988), pp. 45-54

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 46

Symbol: CioneJ&shop-003 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Jacopo di CIONE, probably active 1362; died 1398/1400
Date: 1370 School: Italian/Florence
Title: Seraphim, Cherubim & Adoring Angels
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 87 x 37.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG572
Description: Seraphim, cherubim and adoring angels with musical
instruments and incense-burners originally Ilanked The
Trinity (NG 570) on the right

Musical instruments as Iollows:
Fiddle (played on upper arm, oval and slightly waisted;
underside visible, curved scroll pegbox)
Double pipe not played in unison (diIIerent Iingering)

Bibl.: BomIord et al (1989), pp. 156-89
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 232-4
Davies (1988), pp. 45-54

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 4

Symbol: CioneJ&shop-004 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Jacopo di CIONE, probably active 1362; died 1398/1400
Date: 1370-1 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Ascension
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 95 x 49 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG577
Description: Christ ascends into heaven above crowd oI apostles and
saints, as well as two angels. Four Ilying angels, two either
side oI Christ, play instruments as Iollows, clockwise Irom
top leIt:
Portative organ
Fiddle (unwaisted, two C-soundholes)
Psaltery (demi-trapezoidal)
Lute (narrow oval-shaped)

Bibl.: BomIord et al (1989), pp. 156-89
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 232-4
Davies (1988), pp. 45-54

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 48

Symbol: NiccoloPG-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: NICCOLO di Pietro Gerini
Date: 1387 (probably) School: Italian/Florence
Title: Triptych: The Baptism oI Christ
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: 238 x 200 cm (entire
altarpiece)
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG579.1-5
Description: Baptism oI Christ; predella panels (579.2-5) contain scenes
Irom the liIe oI John the Baptist. Panel 579.4 depicts Feast
oI Herod; secular musician playing (standing):
Fiddle (waisted, under chin, heart-shaped pegbox, pegs not
all visible)

Bibl.: Davies (1988), pp. 89-93
Subjects: Feast oI Herod
Secular music in Biblical scene


Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 49

Symbol: Machiavelli-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: MACHIAVELLI, Zanobi Dates: c1418-1479
Date: c1470 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Virgin & Child
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: painted surIace 163.8 x
70.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG586.1
Description: The Virgin and Child are shown enthroned and surrounded
by angels. Christ child touches a piece oI coral that hangs
around his neck.

Two angel musicians seated at Ieet oI V&C.
Lute, star-oI-David pattern in soundhole
Fiddle, unwaisted, C-soundholes, sloping shoulders, oval
pegbox, two pegs visible. Player is stopping strings with
hand in unnatural playing position.

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 323-4
Subjects: Quiet music
Wrong playing positions


Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 50

Symbol: Botticelli-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BOTTICELLI, Sandro Dates: 14445-17 May 1510
Date: c. 1470 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Adoration oI the Kings
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: painted surIace 50.2 x
135.9 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG592
Description: The accompanying Iigures to the leIt are the kings' retinue.
The Iigures on the right are probably intended to be the
arriving shepherds. Legendary embellishments oI the
biblical narrative told oI Iighting between the entourages oI
the kings, as depicted here on the leIt.

Pentimenti can be seen (leIt oI centre) where several heads
have been painted out. On the reverse there is a drawing oI a
Iemale Iigure with a shield, a Iace and various scribbles
(drawn onto the unprimed wood).

Two musicians (shepherds) on right, carrying instruments,
not in act oI playing:
Bagpipe, single drone & chanter
Lyre, open curved Irame, strings not discernible (but
perhaps a very early crumhorn?)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 97-8
Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 66

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 51

Symbol: BotticelliFoll-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Follower oI BOTTICELLI, Sandro Dates:
Date: c. 1470-5 School: Italian/Florence
Title: St Francis & Angels
Medium: Tempera and oil on wood Size: 49.5 x 31.8 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG598
Description: Saint Francis oI Assisi (about 1181-1226) is shown holding
a cruciIix. The stigmata can be seen in his side, hands and
Ieet. He wears the traditional brown habit oI the Franciscan
Order, which he Iounded.

Two choirs oI hovering angels. Playing, clockwise Irom
lower leIt:
Psaltery (small trapezoidal)
Fipple-flute
Cymbals (only one visible)
Tambourine
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Shawm (small, slightly curved, horn?)
Lute
Fiddle (unwaisted, played under chin, C-soundholes, six
strings visible, perhaps a drone lira da braccio?)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 115-6
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 52

Symbol: CostaL-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: COSTA, Lorenzo Dates: 1459/60-1535
Date: 1505 School: Italian/Ferrara
Title: The Virgin and Child with Saints Peter, Philip, John the
Evangelist and John the Baptist

Medium: Oil (identiIied) on canvas, transIerred Irom wood Size: central panel, 167.6 x
73 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG629.1
Description: Signed and dated on the lintel below the Virgin's throne
(central panel): LAVRENTIVS . COSTA . F|ECIT| . 1505.
The Virgin and Child are shown with Iour angels.

Two angel musicians seated on L and R in central panel
below throne:
Double pipe, not played in unison
Lute

Bibl.: Gould (1975), pp. 72-3
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 53

Symbol: Angelico-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: ANGELICO, Fra Dates: c. 1395-1455
Date: c.1428-30 School: Italian/Florence
Title: Christ GloriIied in the Court oI Heaven
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 32 x 73 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG663.1
Description: Christ is shown holding the banner oI the Resurrection. He
is surrounded by choirs oI angels; Saint Michael is
identiIiable at the leIt oI the third row on the right. Another
archangel (3
rd
Irom right, 3
rd
row on leIt) holds golden host
(?). Cherubim in top row leIt in red; seraphim in top row
right, in blue

LeIt side, top to bottom:
Row 1: none
Row 2: Timbrel, Tabor, Portative Organ, Lyre-Harp
(triangular Irame)
Row 3: Trumpet, Lyre-harp (triangular Irame), Lute,
Shawm, Psaltery (trapezoidal)
Row 4: Fiddle (waisted, round central as well as C-
soundholes, pegbox obscured), Rebec, Trumpets (3),

Centre Iront: Portative Organs (2)

Right side:
Row 1: none
Row 2: Fiddle (waisted, round central as well as C-
soundholes, pegbox obscured), Lute, Trumpet
Row 3: Double pipe, Shawm, obscured wind instrument
(probably a shawm)
Row 4: Trumpets (2), Pipe & Tabor, Cymbals, Timbrel,
Shawms (2), Rebecs (2)


Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 16-31
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 48-9
Hood (1993), pp. 66-72
Pope-Hennessy (1974), pp. 189-90

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 54

Symbol: Tura-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: TURA, Cosimo Dates: 1431-1495
Date: 1470 School: Italian/Ferrara
Title: The Virgin and Child Enthroned
Medium: Oil and egg (identiIied) on poplar Size:
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG772
Description: The Christ Child sleeps in the Virgin's lap on a throne which
bears the symbols oI the Iour evangelists and tablets with
the Ten Commandments. Inscribed on the organ, in the
central Ioreground (extremely damaged but independently
recorded): IMAGO VIRGINIS EXCITA|N|TIS FILIU|M|. /
SURGE PUER. ROUORELLA FORES GENS PULTAT.
APERTUM / REDDE ADITUM. PULSA LEX AIT:
INTUS ERIS. (An image oI the Virgin waking her son.
Arise, child. The Roverella Iamily strikes at the gate. Grant
that the way be opened. The law says 'Knock and thou shalt
be within').

Six angels play musical instruments. Clockwise Irom top
right:
Fiddle (slightly waisted, angular body, with cittern-style
short wings on shoulders; played under chin, scroll pegbox,
C-soundholes)
Lute
Organ, with unusual circular arrangement oI pipes. Pumped
by one angel, played by another
Lute (being tuned)
Fiddle (similar to other, neck and pegbox obscured)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 513-16
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 199

Subjects: Tuning
Standing organ


Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 55

Symbol: PieroF-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: PIERO della Francesca Dates: 1415-1492
Date: 1470 School: Italian/Tuscany
Title: The Nativity
Medium: Oil (identiIied) on poplar Size: 124.4 x 122.6 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG908
Description: The Virgin kneels to adore Christ who lies upon her cloak.
Saint Joseph sits on a saddle and two shepherds stand
Iurther back, one pointing above, possibly towards the star.
The ox and ass are beneath the shelter, upon which a magpie
has alighted. The ass appears to be braying, but is probably
eating straw (now no longer visible). A goldIinch is
identiIiable in the leIt Ioreground.

Five apparently wingless angel musicians.
Singers (2)
Lute
Rebec (mostly obscured)
Lute

Bibl.: Clark, K: Piero della Francesca (London, 1951), pp. 44-5
Davies (1961), pp. 433-4
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 198
Paolucci, A: Piero della Francesca (Florence, 1989), p. 230

Subjects: Wingless angels

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 56

Symbol: BenvenutoG-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BENVENUTO di Giovanni Dates: 13 Sept 1436-aIter
1518
Date: 1479 School: Italian/Siena
Title: The Virgin and Child, with Saint Peter and Saint Nicholas
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: 170.8 x 166 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG909
Description: Triptych; central panel depicts Virgin & Child; St Peter in
leIt panel & St Nicholas oI Bari on right panel.

2 musical angels standing on upper tier oI throne behind
Madonna. L to R:
Lute
Viol (small, played on knee, appears to be tuning, pegbox
partially obscured)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 77-8
Kanter, L: Trittico di Benvenuto di Giovanni alla National
Gallerv Di Londra, Arte Cristiana LXXI, 1983, pp. 53-4

Subjects: Tuning

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 5

Symbol: Botticelli-002 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BOTTICELLI, Sandro Dates: 14445-17 May 1510
Date: about 1470-5 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Adoration oI the Kings
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: Diameter 130.8 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1033
Description: Tondo. The Three Kings. The Iigures in the Ioreground are
the kings' retinues. The shepherds approach Irom behind.
The ruined Roman temple probably alludes to the crumbling
oI the old pagan order.

Right and just above centre, one shepherd, obscure detail:
Bagpipe

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 101-2
Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 312

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 58

Symbol: Bergognone-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BERGOGNONE, Ambrogio Dates: 1453?1523
Date: probably about 1480-5 School: Italian/Milan
Title: The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
Medium: Oil on wood Size: painted surIace 92.7 x
57.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1077
Description: As per title. Two musical angels, standing either side oI
Madonna on same level as her seat.
Lutes (2, leIt-hand pegbox obscured.)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), p. 80
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 59

Symbol: NiccoloB-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: NICCOLO di Buonaccorso Dates: active about 1370; died
1388
Date: about 1380 School: Italian/Siena
Title: The Marriage oI the Virgin
Medium: Egg (identiIied) on wood Size: 51 x 33 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1109
Description: Saint Joseph places a ring on the Virgin's Iinger. His rod
blossoms in the Iorm oI a dove. At the leIt are the
unsuccessIul suitors, while in the background are the
Virgin's parents - Saints Joachim and Anna. The palm tree
may be a reIerence to the Song oI Songs (7: 7), where the
beloved is compared to the tree. At the top oI the
composition a swallow returns to its nest. On the reverse is a
geometric design, painted and punched.

At right, Iour secular musicians herald the marriage.
Trumpets (2)
Shawm
Nakers (pair)

Bibl.: Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 230
Davies (1988), pp. 86-8
Pope-Hennessy, J: The Robert Lehman Collection, I. Italian
Paintings (Metropolitan Museum oI Art, New York, 1987)
pp. 33-5

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 60

Symbol: Signorelli-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: SIGNORELLI , Luca Dates: about 1440/50-1523
Date: probably about 1490-5 School: Italian/Central
Title: The Holy Family
Medium: Oil on wood Size: painted surIace 215 x
170.2 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1133
Description: The Nativity story starts with the decree oI taxation by
Augustus. This is rarely depicted by artists, but NG 1133
shows (centre background) people gathering under a portico
to pay their tax. The Annunciation to the Shepherds is in the
leIt background, and their Adoration oI the Child Jesus
(together with the Holy Family, and angels) is represented in
the Ioreground.
On a grassy bank through a rocky arch on upper leIt, a
secular musician (shepherd? Has headdress oI vine-leaves)
plays:
Bagpipe (two drones and chanter)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 481-3
Subjects: Multiple drones

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 61

Symbol: MatteoG-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: MATTEO di Giovanni Dates: active 1452; died 1495
Date: probably 1474 School: Italian/Siena,
Sansepolcro
Title: The Assumption oI the Virgin
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: 331.5 x 174 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1155
Description: As the Virgin rises up to Heaven, surrounded by music-
making angels, her girdle Ialls Irom her waist and Saint
Thomas, the disciple who doubted that Christ had risen Irom
the dead, catches it. Christ, accompanied by prophets and
ancestors, among them David and John the Baptist,
welcomes his mother.

Three ranks oI Ilying angels either side oI Virgin.

LeIt hand side, top to bottom, leIt to right:
Lute
Timbrel
Double pipe
Psaltery (obscured, shape not completely visible)
Portative organ
Nakers (pair)
Fiddle (waisted, played under chin, C-soundholes, round
pegbox, three pegs visible)

Right hand side, top to bottom, leIt to right:
Shawm
Cymbal
Trumpet (S-coiled)
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Shawm (only bell is visible)
Lute (body obscured)
Fiddle (with rounded and ribbed back, played on upper arm,
neck and bow not visible)


Bibl.: Davies (1961), p. 370
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 62

Symbol: LorenzoMonaco-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: LORENZO MONACO Dates: beIore 1372-1422 or
later
Date: probably 1407-9 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Coronation oI the Virgin
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: painted surIace 217 x
115 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1897
Description: Mary being crowned Queen oI Heaven by Christ, in the
presence oI saints and choirs oI angels with musical
instruments.

Organ, centre Iront, played by seated angel

Bibl.: Burnstock, A: The Fading of the Jirgins Robe in Loren:o
Monacos "Coronation of the Jirgin" (National Gallery
Technical Bulletin 12 1988), pp. 58-65
Davies (1961), pp. 305-12
Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 240
Eisenberg, M: Loren:o Monaco (Princeton, 1989), pp.
138-45

Subjects: Pre-eminence oI organ

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 63


Symbol: BenozzoGIoll-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: AIter BENOZZO Dates:
Date: 1460-9 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Angels
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: 137.2 x 88.9 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG2863
Description: A variant oI Benozzo's altarpiece NG 283. The attendant
saints have been omitted and two seated angels added.
Two angels seated at Ieet oI Virgin.
Rebec
Lute (held; not being played)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 76-7
Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 64

Symbol: BarnabaM-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BARNABA da Modena Dates: active 1361-1383
Date: 1374 School: Italian/Genoa
Title: The Coronation oI the Virgin
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 82 x 60.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 2927
Description: The Coronation oI the Virgin, top leIt panel in polyptych oI
Iour. Standing musician angels surround throne and canopy.
Clockwise Irom top leIt:
Bagpipe (no drone visible)
Shawm
Double pipe (not played in unison)
Fiddle (unwaisted, played under chin, two C-soundholes, no
neck visible)
Lute
Portative organ (player seated, directly at Ieet oI Virgin &
Christ)
Nakers (pair, carried on back oI one angel & played by
another)
Trumpets (2)

Bibl.: Davies (1988), pp. 7-9
Subjects: Status oI organ

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 65

Symbol: Masaccio-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: MASACCIO Dates: 1401-probably 1428
Date: 1426 School: Italian/Florence
Title: Virgin & Child
Medium: Egg (identiIied) on poplar Size: 135.5 x 73 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 3046
Description: The Virgin is seated on a stone throne. Jesus is eating
grapes, a Eucharistic symbol. Two angels with lutes are
seated at the base oI the throne (the bottom edge has been
cut), and two kneel beside the throne, set slightly back.

Lutes (2)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 348-51
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 248-50

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 66

Symbol: GerolamoV-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: GEROLAMO da Vicenza Dates: active 1488
Date: 1488 School: Italian/Vicenza
Title: The Dormition and Assumption oI the Virgin
Medium: Egg and oil (identiIied) on wood Size: 33.7 x 22.9 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG3077
Description: The Virgin is lying on a bier in the middle ground; above,
the Assumption oI the Virgin is combined with the
Coronation.
In middle Ioreground:
Lute
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Sitting or standing on bier, clockwise Irom leIt:
Fiddle (unwaisted, played under chin, two C-soundholes, no
neck visible)
Shawm
Lyre-harp (triangular Irame)
Trumpet
Lute
Above bier, below circular scalloped banner:
Shawm (Ilying angel)
Lute
Shawm
Portative organ (? indistinct)
Imaginary instrument (? Angel seems to be blowing into
mouthpiece oI long curved tube with branches)
Around edge oI circular scalloped banner:
Heraldic trumpets (3 curved, 1 trumpet, with banners)
Within circular scalloped banner (indistinct):
Lute
Tabor
Timbrel

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 216-17
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 81-2

Subjects: Imaginary instruments

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 6

Symbol: CostaL-003 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: COSTA, Lorenzo Dates: 1459/60-1535
Date: aIter 1508 School: Italian/Ferrara
Title: The Story oI Moses (The Dance oI Miriam)
Medium: Glue on linen Size: 119.3 x 78.7 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 3104
Description: During the exodus Irom Egypt, the Red Sea parted Ior the
Ileeing Israelites, and closed again to drown Pharaoh's
pursuing army. Miriam and other Israelite women dance to
celebrate this escape. Moses is in the Ioreground to the right.

Human musician in right Ioreground.
Tabor

Bibl.: Gould (1975), pp. 75-7
Subjects: Human musician
Old Testament


Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 68

Symbol: CostaL-004 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: COSTA, Lorenzo Dates: 1459/60-1535
Date: About 1499 School: Italian/Ferrara
Title: The Adoration oI the Shepherds with Angels
Medium: Oil on wood Size: 52.4 x 37.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG3105
Description: Adoration oI the Shepherds; nine choirs oI music-making
angels are shown on each side; above are two angels
blowing trumpets and a group oI angels (centre) bearing the
instruments oI the Passion.

Instrumentation on the leIt is the same on the right.
Numbers include instruments Irom both sides. All players
apparently standing.
Lyre (4)
Fiddle (3, waisted, played on shoulder; 3 pegs visible on
one)
Lute (5, only two Iully visible)
Tabor (2)
Rebec (5)
Portative organ (4, played close to chest)
Shawm (5)
Timbrel (4)
Trumpet (3, shorter than usual, held in one hand)

Bibl.: Gould (1975), p. 75
Subjects: Nine choirs oI angels

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 69

Symbol: RaIIaellinoG-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: RAFFAELLINO del Garbo Dates: living 1479?; died
1527?
Date: about 1495-1527 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
Medium: Tempera on canvas, transIerred Irom wood Size: diameter 84.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 4902
Description: Tondo. The Christ Child is depicted asleep and the angels
have, it seems, ceased to play their instruments.
Lyre (or kithara)
Panpipe

Bibl.: Davies (1961), p. 457
Subjects: Panpipe (only one in NG collection)

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 0

Symbol: LIPPIFilippinoFoll-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Follower oI LIPPI, Filippino Dates:
Date: about 1500 School: Italian/ Florence
Title: The Worship oI the Egyptian Bull God Apis
Medium: Oil and egg (identiIied) on wood Size: painted surIace 78.1 x
137.2 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG4905
Description: The bull in the sky is the Egyptian Bull God Apis, one oI
whose distinguishing Ieatures was a crescent moon on his
shoulder. Traditionally the Golden CalI made by the
Israelites was thought to have been an image oI the Egyptian
God Apis, and some connection is likely as the pendant to
NG 4905 is also an episode Irom the story oI Moses.
Imaginary and real instruments played by worshippers; leIt
to right:
Trumpet (S-coiled)
Timbrel
Aulos (imaginary)
Lyre (or kithara)
Buccina (Roman trumpet, curved)
Nakers (pair)

Bibl.: Berti, L and Baldini, U: Filippino Lippi (Florence, 1991),
p. 218
Davies (1961), pp. 289-91
Winternitz (1979), pp. 212-3

Subjects: Imaginary instruments

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 1

Symbol: MstClarisse-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Attributed to the CLARISSE MASTER Dates: Last third oI trecento
Date: about 1265-75 School: Italian/ Siena
Title: The Virgin and Child
Medium: Egg tempera on panel Size: 31.4 x 19.4 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 6571
Description: The Virgin and Child in the centre are surrounded by a rich
compendium oI images representing the Redemption oI
Mankind. Above the Virgin and Child are, on the leIt, the
Angel Gabriel and, on the right, the Annunciate Virgin. In
the arch above is the CruciIixion, with the swooning Virgin
supported by two Maries on the leIt oI the cross, and John
the Evangelist and the centurion who recognised Christ as
the Son oI God on the right. In the spandrels on either side
are the trumpeting angels oI the Last Judgement calling
people Irom their tombs - the Blessed, including two Iriars
and a bishop, on the leIt, and the Damned on the right. The
panel may originally have had a gable at the top showing the
Redeemer. It may also be missing wings on either side.

Trumpet (2)

Bibl.: Christie`s catalogue oI Old Master Paintings
10 July 1998
lot 49

National Gallery Review
April 1998 - March 1999 London 1999
pp. 14-15.

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 2

Symbol: Botticini-002 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: BOTTICINI, Francesco Dates:
Date: probably about 1475-6 School: Italian/Florence
Title:
Medium: Tempera on wood Size: 228.6 x 377.2 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG1126
Description: Apostles around the tomb oI the Virgin, who is taken up and
crowned in the open dome oI Heaven. Christ & Virgin
surrounded by 9 ranks oI angels, with saints included in
ranks.

David hold his attribute,
Psaltery (trapezoidal)

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 122-7
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 49-50
King, C: The Dowrv farms of Niccolosa Serragli and the
altarpiece of the Assumption in the National Gallerv London
(1126) ascribed to Francesco Botticini (ZeitschriIt Ir
Kunstgeschichte, vol. 50, 1987), pp. 275-8

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 3

Symbol: LeonardoAss-001 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Associate oI LEONARDO, probably Ambrogio de Predis Dates:
Date: 1490-9 School: Italian/Milan
Title: An Angel in Red with a Lute
Medium: Oil (identiIied) on poplar Size: 118.8 x 61 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 1662
Description: As per title. Angel occupies architectonic niche by itselI.
Lute

Bibl.: Cannell, W: Leonardo da Jinci "The Jirgin of the Rocks" -
A Reconsideration of the Documents and a new
Interpretation (Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 104, 1984),
p. 104
Davies (1961), pp. 261-81
Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 385

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 4

Symbol: LeonardoAss-002 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: Associate oI LEONARDO, probably Ambrogio de Predis Dates:
Date: 1490-9 School: Italian/Milan
Title: An Angel in Green with a Vielle
Medium: Oil on poplar Size: 116 x 61 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 1661
Description: As per title (except that the instrument is a lira da braccia).
Angel occupies architectonic niche by itselI.
Lira da braccia (Played high on shoulder; Iive strings and
pegs, one string is a drone)

Bibl.: Cannell, W: Leonardo da Jinci "The Jirgin of the Rocks" -
A Reconsideration of the Documents and a new
Interpretation (Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 104, 1984),
p. 104
Davies (1961), pp. 261-81
Dunkerton et al (1991), p. 385

Subjects:

Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 5

Symbol: Angelico-002 Repro.: Digital photograph
Artist: ANGELICO, Fra Dates: c. 1395-1455
Date: c.1428-30 School: Italian/Florence
Title: The Forerunners oI Christ with Saints and Martyrs
Medium: Tempera on poplar Size: 32 x 63.5 cm
Location: National Gallery, London, cat. NG 1661
Description: As per title; inner right panel oI predella inscribed with
various names. David in top row, no. 13, David; bottom
row, no. 10, S. Cecilia.
Psaltery, trapezoidal (diIIerent to the angel`s one in
NG663.1)
Cecilia not pictured with instrument

Bibl.: Davies (1961), pp. 16-31
Dunkerton et al (1991), pp. 48-9
Hood (1993), pp. 66-72
Pope-Hennessy (1974) pp. 189-90

Subjects: David
Musical Symbolism in Larly Renaissance Italian Painting Page: 6

Index
A
angel.6, , 9, 13, 14, 16, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 35, 43,
49, 52, 54, 55, 62, 64, 66, 5
Angelico, lra... 6, 9, 15, 19, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33,
3, 40, 41, 53, 5
Aquinas, St 1homas.................................................8
Archangel............................................................ , 53
Ashmolean Museum................................................5
aulos...................................... 5, 21, See double-pipe
B
Barnaba da Modena.................................................9
Bellini, Gioanni ............................................. 16, 20
Book o Lnoch.........................................................
Botticini, lrancesco........................... 23, 41, 42, 2
C
Carlerius, Aegidius ............................................ 8, 36
Celestial lierarchy............................................ , 31
Cherubim...................................... 29, 31, 45, 46, 53
Costa, Lorenzo ........................ 6, 16, 25, 28, 30, 31
cymbals ................................................................... 22
D
D`Lste, Lrcole ....................................................... 16
Dionysius...................................................................
double-pipe ............................................... 21, 28, 39
F
lerrara..................................................................... 15
iddle.................................................................. 21, 40
llorence .....................................................................9
C
Gabriel .......................................................................
Gentile da labriano................................. 13, 1, 43
Giotto....................................................... 8, 9, 10, 11
Golden Legend.........................................................8
Gozzoli, Benozzo ................................................. 14
Grout, Donald Jay................................................. 14
1
Jacobello del liore ................................................ 23
K
Knapp, Gottried .................................................. 16
L
Leonardo ................................................................ 12
Lippi, lilippino.................................................... 5, 6
Lippi, lra lilippo.................................................. 16
Longhi, Roberto.................................................... 30
Lorenzetti, Ambrogio ............................................. 9
Lorenzo d'Alessandro di Sanseerino................ 14
lute.............................. 14, 21, 23, 32, 40, 43, 44, 45
M
Mantua..................................................................... 15
A
nakers....................................................................... 22
Niccolo di Buonaccorso....................................... 25
Niccolo di Pietro Gerini ....................................... 26
O
organ. 9, 14, 22, 29, 30, 40, 44, 4, 54, 61, 62, 64,
66, 68
P
Psalm 150................................................................ 15
psaltery................................................. 15, 21, 23, 29
R
Raphael .................................................................... 16
rebec......................................................................... 21
S
Sacra Conersazione ............................................. 16
Sanctus..................................................................... 13
Seraphim ............................................. 13, 29, 31, 53
shawm.................................................. 21, 29, 40, 53
Siena..................................18, 23, 43, 56, 59, 61, 1
Signorelli, Luca................................... 22, 26, 41, 60
singing................................... , 9, 13, 14, 32, 40, 43
St Cecilia........................................................... 23, 5
St Michael................................................... 28, 36, 53
1
tabor..................................................... 22, 28, 29, 41
timbrel.................................................. 15, 22, 29, 40
1inctoris, Johannes......................................... 13, 36
1ura, Cosm ....................................... 16, 25, 41, 54
U
Utrecht Psalter .........................................................
J
Vasari, Giorgio.......................................... 28, 30, 31
Venice.................................................. 20, 23, 2, 35
ielle ................................................. 9, 21, See iddle
iol........................................................................5, 40
W
\internitz, Lmanuel ............ 5, , 8, 22, 23, 32, 0