Fabio Colonnese – Abstract

Beyond Perspective. Francesco Salviati’s Depiction of Time in Space

Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / Dec 2014 1(2)

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ABSTRACT

Among the capricciose et ingegnose invenzioni that made Francesco Salviati a famous and discussed mannerist painter, a special place is occupied by Bathsheba goes to David he painted in 1552 in the fresco cycle at Palazzo Ricci in Rome. He depicted Bathsheba four times while approaching a towered alcove via a sinuous staircase: one can see her climbing the stairs, entering David’s room and joining him as four subsequent moments overlapped in the same picture. Such a narrative device has remote origins but appears unusual in an artistic context theoretically dominated by the perspective representation. A perspective should be like a photograph: an instant projection of three-dimensional space from a centre on a plane. Time flowing should be conceptually excluded from such a representation. Even the fictive architectural background Salviati painted, responds to no canonical perspective construction: the stair follows a curved geometry that is hardly detectable and incongruous with the human figures depicted on. But the little painting is only part of a wider anti-perspectival visual program in which the whole hall is involved to move the observer along invisible narrative tracks.

Keywords:
Francesco Salviati, Palazzo Ricci, Sala dei Mappamondi, Bathsheba and David, Representation of time in space, Fictive architecture, Perspective decoration, Optical illusions, Trompe l’oeil.