Discovering the Visual Legacy of Ginevra degli Amieri: From Chapbooks to Paul Richter’s Assessment of Hans Schäufelein’s Scenes from the Tale of Ginevra Degli Almieri and Antonio Rondinelli

Jennifer Bates-Ehlert


 Art historian Jean Paul Richter (1847–1937) is well known for his translations of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and his role in framing art historical connoisseurship in the nineteenth century. However, his attributing the title Scenes from the Tale of Ginevra Degli Almieri and Antonio Rondinelli, a fifteenth-century Florentine legend, to a fifteenth-century German painting is problematic. This essay argues that Jean Paul Richter’s assessment of the panel is incorrect, offering, in conclusion, a field of further inquiry, Griselda, from Boccaccio’s Decameron, as the possible subject. To provide a visual comparison to the panel, this paper will examine woodcut prints included in sixteenth-century chapbooks of La Historia di Ginevra degli Almieri. The novella enjoyed a rediscovery among nineteenth-century British and American tourists, as the story’s setting—the medieval quarter of Florence near the Mercato Vecchio—had disappeared mainly due to Florence’s urban renewal programmes of the 1880s. For many, the destruction of this neighbourhood ripped out Florence’s heart, creating a renewed interest in the history of Florence’s medieval past. Ginevra’s legend struck a powerful chord, and countless writers and artists would translate, reprint, and paint her tale. The passion for Ginevra’s story may have influenced Richter’s assertion. Nonetheless, the panel’s dating of 1470 and visual inconsistencies between the painting and the novella create doubt about Richter’s assessment of the panel.

Parole chiave

cassoni; woodcuts; Amieri; Almieri; Schäufelein; Richter; Griselda; Mercato Vecchio; Florence

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