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Renaissance Studies

A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski

Edited By Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford and Dena M. Woodall

This Festschrift is dedicated to Edward J. Olszewski and was created by his former PhD students in gratitude and honor of a professor whose innovative and comprehensive research spans the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His research provided much insight to the arts, issues of patronage, conservation, and context. The text includes an array of topics conceived by each author while studying with Olszewski. His intense seminar on Michelangelo was the catalyst for many articles: Jennifer Finkel introduces new ideas regarding the proposed sculptural plan for the façade of San Lorenzo; Dena M. Woodall provides keen insight on the representations of genii on the Sistine Ceiling; Karen Edwards proposes the early creation of the figura serpentinata in Michelangelo’s own drawings and paintings; and Rachel Geshwind offers a new interpretation of his use of color symbolism in the Sistine Chapel. This seminar, and another on Mannerism, involved provocative discussion of the competitors of Michelangelo, where the foundation was laid for the much needed re-examination of Baccio Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus in Michael Morford’s article, which introduces the probability of Machiavellian influence, and Christine Corretti’s interpretation of Cellini’s Perseus and Medusa as the symbol of Cosimo’s I ideas of justice and the influence of women in his life. Olszewski’s own research on patronage, especially of the Ottoboni, mirrors Henrietta Silberger’s article on the collecting habits of Livio Odescalchi. Finally, Holley Witchey provides a personal experience in authenticating works of art in collections (a topic of interest for Olszewski) and ends her essay with a series of important questions for each of us to ask ourselves.


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Jennifer Finkel, Michael D. Morford, Dena M. Woodall Introduction Dr. Edward J. Olszewski retired in 2010 after teaching thirty-nine years in the Art History department at Case Western Reserve University. Professor Olszewski has touched and inspired the lives of hundreds of students, and he was the most requested professor each year for auditors wishing to be trans- ported to the Renaissance. His warmth, spirited generosity, guidance, breadth of knowledge of the Renaissance, and love of great food and excellent wine, made him one of the most sought after dissertation advisors. Truly a Renais- sance man, Professor Olszewski earned not one but two Ph.D.s: the first in 1964 in Chemistry from the University of Illinois; and the second in 1974 in Art History from the University of Minnesota. The origins of Dr. Olszewski’s interest in art began in 1966 when the Arno River flooded. As a chemist, he knew he could use his scientific knowledge to assist with the damages suffered not only in Florence but also Venice. He took matters into his own hands and wrote to distinguished art historian H.W. Janson who invited him to New York City to discuss the is- sue. This single conversation eventually led to his completion of a Ph.D. in art history, specializing in Renaissance art. Professor Olszewski came to Case Western Reserve University (CASE) as an associate professor in 1971, drawn by the cooperative program with the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). The joint program between CASE and the CMA offered the unique...

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