Gemalte Korallenamulette. Zur Vorstellung eigenwirksamer Bilder bei Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna und Camillo Leonardi
The aim of this paper is to analyze how natural and painted corals were perceived at the end of the Quattrocento. Given the huge amount of coral amulets and paintings of the Christ Child bearing a coral (as in Piero della Francesca’s Pala di Brera) I will question in a first step how far the mythical and “scientific“ understanding of the coral as a powerful natural amulet was the substructure of its symbolical meaning as a Christian sign. Primarily based on the analysis of Camillo Leonardi’s Speculum lapidum (Venice 1502) I will go on to ask in a second step to what extent not only natural corals but also painted corals (as in Andrea Mantegna’s Madonna della Vittoria) were regarded as having a talismanic efficacy. This will finally raise the question if natural magical texts like Leonardi’s book on gemstones were partly conceptualized as “natural scientific” complements to the “conventional” art theory as presented by Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci or Jacopo de’ Barbari.