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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 1172001 Lectures$
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F.M.L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262795

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262795.001.0001

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How Northern was the Northern Master at Assisi?

How Northern was the Northern Master at Assisi?


(p.73) How Northern was the Northern Master at Assisi?
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 117


British Academy

The origins of the painters of the upper walls of the right (north) transept of the Upper Church of S. Francesco has mystified historians of the greatest early showcase of Italian narrative art. These origins have been explored in a literature dominated by specialists in Italian and Byzantine art, and the conclusions have generally been the same, namely that the right transept was worked on by artists who were not only Italian but also French or English, and who remained content to work in distinctively native styles. This chapter argues that the case for specifically English influence at Assisi is actually vastly weaker than that proposed for Sigena, and that to understand the right transept we may have to look away from thirteenth-century London or Paris. This is not to rule out categorically the possibility of any English influence at Assisi; caution may simply help us to expose and understand the kinds of assumption about artistic identity and experience, which can be seen in practice to have influenced our understanding of what are exceedingly complex monuments that defy categorical definitions of personal, group, or national style.

Keywords:   Italian narrative art, painters, right transept, English influence, Assisi, Sigena, artistic identity

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