The patronage of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa 1430-1511

Norman, Diana (1989). The patronage of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa 1430-1511. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis studies the patronage of an important Italian Renaissance Calrdinal, Oliviero Carafa, a topic relatively neglected in modern scholarship.

It examines his patronage from a number of distinct but inter-related perspectives, namely, his position as a cardinal prince of the church, cardinal protector of the kingdom of Naples, cardinal protector of a number of religious orders, head of the Carafa clan, and patron of a variety of artists and humanist scholars.

In doing so, it examines the historical evidence for Cardinal Carafals various positions within the College of Cardinals and the papal Curia and the kinds of access they afforded him to a complex patron client network which embraced not merely Rome and Maples but the whole of Italy and, Europe. It also investigates the extent and sources of his wealth as holder of multiple sacred offices and the various ways in which he ensured that his relatives shared In such benefits.

In respect of Carafals role as patron of art and letters, the study analyses and assesses the significance of: Carafa's two funerary chapels (the Carafa chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome and the 'Succorpo' in Naples cathedral), his commission to Bramante for the cloister at Santa Maria della Pace in Rome, his other ecclesiastical and civic foundations, his private residences, his library, his promotion of manusgript production and printing, and his status as the recipient and dedicatee of a large number of scholarly works. As appropriate to a study of Renaissance patronage, particular emphasis is placed on those areas in which Carafa can plausibly be said to have intervened in the origination and outcome of these artistic and scholarly endeavours.

In exploring these inter-related themes, the study thus throws light upon the structures and processes of Renaissance patronage in Italy. It reiterates the importance of the family as a locale for patronage and, more particularly, demonstrates how a powerfully placed ecclesiastic could contribute decisively to the family's fortunes. It also provides an insight into Renaissance patrons' strong sense of loyalty towards the place of their birth.

Moving beyond Italian Renaissance patronage in general, this study also offers an opportunity to explore the more specific field of Renaissance cardinals' patronage and assesses the complex variety of patronal commitments that Renaissance cardinals characteristically undertook. Furthermore, the case of Oliviero Carafa, an ecclesiastic involved in pluralism, simony, and nepotism and yet also genuinely committed to the reform of such abuses, provides an opportunity to explore some of the moral dilemmas that patronage presented to Carafa and his contemporaries.

The examination of Carafals patronage of art and letters provides emphatic endorsement of the interest and enthusiasm prevalent amongst Renaissance patrons for classical texts and artefacts. It also calls into question, however, the assumption that such cultural phenemona were motivated solely by secular appetites. Carafa's artistic commissions were preponderantly religious and therefore entirely conventional for a high-ranking orthodox ecclesiastic, Yet many of them were rendered distinctive by sustained self-conscious allusion to classical prototypes. The literary works produced under his aegis also supply an insight into the special nature of humanist endeavour in Rome where the intellectual traditions of scholasticism and theology provided a decisive input.

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