TitleArtistic identity set in stone
NameBoffa, David Frank (author), McHam, Sarah Blake (chair), Thunø, Erik (internal member), Paul, Benjamin (internal member), Paoletti, John (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionThis dissertation examines some 300 signatures and inscriptions from sculptors working in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance in Italy. The project discusses the signatures broadly in order to provide a context with which to study individual cases in detail. To that end, my analysis begins with a short breakdown of the signatures’ basic information: geographic distribution, date, artist, material. In separate chapters I then devote
considerable attention to issues of textual content; placement and location; lettering style; audience and reception; and fundamental social factors, such as the status of sculptors and their works. Ultimately I bring together the information on signatures and related
sources to describe some of the notable trends in signing practices during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and what the implications and significance of those trends may be. In particular, I discuss how the increasing standardization and simplicity of many sculptors’ signatures—especially in central Italy—illustrates a sense of collective and communal identity that counters some of the usual assumptions about Medieval collectivism versus Renaissance individualism. For sculptors of fifteenth-century Tuscany, for example, the common motif of signing with “opus + name” (“the work
of…”) gave artists the ability to reference both antiquity—as this form of signature survived on the classical Dioscuri statues in Rome—as well as their fellow craftsmen, creating for them a group identity that complemented their status as individual artists.
Later, toward the end of the fifteenth century and into the sixteenth, the popularity of signing with the imperfect verb faciebat (“was making”), as Michelangelo did on his St Peter’s Pietà, offered similar possibilities for artists wishing to express their links to both
classical antiquity and the best artists of their own time. Through my analysis of individual cases situated within a large body of data—presented in the dissertation’s
appendix—I illustrate how Medieval and Renaissance sculptors conveyed identity via a range of signature types. My findings and data thus lay a foundation for future research into artists’ inscriptions.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby David Frank Boffa
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.