Illegibility and Revelation in Moretto da Brescia’s Frescoes for a Bishop, Kirk Nickel
Around 1525, Moretto da Brescia frescoed a room of Mattia Ugoni’s Brescian home that likely served as the bishop’s semi-private study. The decorative program centered on Moses before the Burning Bush, a seminal episode of divine revelation in the Hebrew Bible that Moretto’s ceiling image rendered ambivalent and partly compromised. Supporting the ceiling were ten spandrels that the artist painted with illegible inscriptions in either Arabic or Hebrew letters. While these manufactured inscriptions could not be read, they were not meaningless. This paper will identify the source of the inscriptions as a polyglot psalter published in Genoa in 1516 and examine how Moretto’s mural decoration glossed the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and God’s manner of revealing sacred truth slowly through signs that must be translated and interpreted.
The Plague on Paper in Early Modern Venice (and Beyond), Lisa Pon
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