The Arno valley landscape in fifteenth-century florentine painting

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The article argues for the importance of the Arno Valley as a feature of backgrounds in paintings on pagan and Christian subjects. It shows how the Arno Valley is an expression of the benevolent participation of the Medici family in the state affairs of their native city and as a manifestation of the fear of Arno floods. The fluvial landscape was not portrayed uniformly but was adjusted according to the subject of the painting or text, revealing the impact of the Valley on the history and culture of Florence and those writers, patrons, and artists who worked to represent it. The fluvial landscape in the Nativity and Baptism frescoes by Baldovinetti and Ghirlandaio showed a view of the Arno Valley spreading in direction of neighboring Prato, a perspective differing from the view in Pollaiuolo's paintings of Hercules, a formative tale in the early history of Florence. The zigzag shoreline of the Arno River is emphasized by Botticelli. Descriptions of the Arno River by Landino, Lorenzo de' Medici, and Poliziano illuminate the depiction of its valley in contemporary paintings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)201-242
Number of pages42
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • Archangel raphael
  • Arno valley
  • Baldovinetti
  • Botticelli
  • Cristoforo landino
  • Early flemish influence
  • Floods
  • Fluentia
  • Ghirlandaio
  • Gozzoli
  • Guthmann
  • Hercules
  • Journey of the magi
  • Kallab
  • Leonardo bruni
  • Lorenzo de' medici
  • Luca fancelli
  • Masaccio
  • Pollaiuolo
  • St. sebastian
  • The "catena" map
  • The ambra

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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