Thursday, May 30, 2013
He kneels on a tomb decorated with acanthus scrolls
He kneels on a tomb decorated with acanthus scrolls that are also a reference to the art of Ancient Rome. In Brunelleschi's panel, one of the additional figures included in the scene is reminiscent of a well-known Roman bronze figure of a boy pulling a thorn from his foot. Sony VAIO PCG-7141L battery Brunelleschi's creation is challenging in its dynamic intensity. Less elegant than Ghiberti's, it is more about human drama and impending tragedy. Ghiberti won the competition. His first set of Baptistry doors took 27 years to complete, after which he was commissioned to make another. Sony VAIO PCG-7142L battery In the total of 50 years that Ghiberti worked on them, the doors provided a training ground for many of the artists of Florence. Being narrative in subject and employing not only skill in arranging figurative compositions but also the burgeoning skill of linear perspective, the doors were to have an enormous influence on the development of Florentine pictorial art. Sony VAIO PCG-81113L battery They were a unifying factor, a source of pride and camaraderie for both the city and its artists. Michelangelo was to call them the Gates of Paradise. In 1426 two artists commenced painting a fresco cycle of the Life of St. Peter in the chapel of the Brancacci family, at the Carmelite Church in Florence. Sony VAIO PCG-81114L battery They both were called by the name of Tommaso and were nicknamedMasaccio and Masolino, Sloveny Tom and Little Tom. More than any other artist, Masaccio recognised the implications in the work of Giotto. He carried forward the practice of painting from nature. Sony VAIO PCG-81115L battery His paintings demonstrate an understanding of anatomy, of foreshortening, of linear perspective, of light and the study of drapery. Among his works, the figures of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden, painted on the side of the arch into the chapel, are renowned for their realistic depiction of the human form and of human emotion. Sony VAIO PCG-81214L battery They contrast with the gentle and pretty figures painted by Masolino on the opposite side of Adam and Eve receiving the forbidden fruit. The painting of the Brancacci Chapel was left incomplete when Masaccio died at 26. The work was later finished by Filippino Lippi. Sony VAIO PCG-81312L battery Masaccio's work was to be a source of inspiration to many later painters, including both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. During the first half of the 15th century, the achieving of the effect of realistic space in a painting by the employment oflinear perspective was a major preoccupation of many painters, Sony VAIO PCG-8131L battery as well as the architects Brunelleschi andAlberti who both theorised about the subject. Brunelleschi is known to have done a number of careful studies of the piazza and octagonal baptistery outside Florence Cathedral and it is thought he aided Masaccio in the creation of his famous trompe l'oeil niche around the Holy Trinity he painted at Santa Maria Novella. Sony VAIO PCG-8141L battery According to Vasari, Paolo Uccello was so obsessed with perspective that he thought of little else and experimented with it in many paintings, the best known being the three Battle of San Romano pictures which use broken weapons on the ground, and fields on the distant hills to give an impression of perspective. Sony VAIO PCG-8152L battery In the 1450s Piero della Francesca, in paintings such as The Flagellation of Christ, demonstrated his mastery over linear perspective and also over the science of light. Another painting exists, a cityscape, by an unknown artist, perhaps Piero della Francesca, that demonstrates the sort of experiment that Brunelleschi had been making. Sony VAIO PCG-8161L battery From this time linear perspective was understood and regularly employed, such as by Perugino in his Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter in the Sistine Chapel. Giotto used tonality to create form. Taddeo Gaddi in his nocturnal scene in the Baroncelli Chapel demonstrated how light could be used to create drama. Sony VAIO PCG-9131L battery Paolo Uccello, a hundred years later, experimented with the dramatic effect of light in some of his almost-monochrome frescoes. He did a number of these in terra verde or "green earth", enlivening his compositions with touches of vermilion. The best known is his equestrian portrait of John Hawkwood on the wall of Florence Cathedral. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery Both here and on the four heads of prophets that he painted around the inner clockface in the cathedral, he used strongly contrasting tones, suggesting that each figure was being lit by a natural light source, as if the source was an actual window in the cathedral. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z2L battery Piero della Francesca carried his study of light further. In the Flagellation he demonstrates a knowledge of how light is proportionally disseminated from its point of origin. There are two sources of light in this painting, one internal to a building and the other external. Sony VAIO VPCF117FJ battery Of the internal source, though the light itself is invisible, its position can be calculated with mathematical certainty. Leonardo da Vinci was to carry forward Piero's work on light. The Blessed Virgin Mary, revered by the Catholic Church worldwide, was particularly evoked in Florence, Sony VAIO VPCF118FJ battery where there was a miraculous image of her on a column in the corn market and where both the Cathedral of "Our Lady of the Flowers" and the large Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella were named in her honour. The miraculous image in the corn market was sadly destroyed by fire, but replaced with a new image in the 1330s by Bernardo Daddi, Sony VAIO VPCF11AFJ battery set in an elaborately designed and lavishly wrought canopy by Orcagna. The open lower storey of the building was enclosed and dedicated as Orsanmichele. Depictions of the Madonna and Child were a very popular art form in Florence. Sony VAIO VPCF11AGJ battery They took every shape from small mass-produced terracotta plaques to magnificent altarpieces such as those by Cimabue,Giotto and Masaccio. In the 15th and first half of the 16th centuries, one workshop more than any other dominated the production of Madonnas. They were the della Robbia family, and they were not painters but modellers in clay. Sony VAIO VPCF11AHJ battery Luca della Robbia, famous for his cantoria gallery at the cathedral, was the first sculptor to use glazed terracotta for large sculptures. Many of the durable works of this family have survived. The skill of the della Robbias, particularly Andrea della Robbia, Sony VAIO VPCF11ZHJ battery was to give great naturalism to the babies that they modelled as Jesus, and expressions of great piety and sweetness to the Madonna. They were to set a standard to be emulated by other artists of Florence. Among those who painted devotional Madonnas during the Early Renaissance are Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Verrocchio and Davide Ghirlandaio. Sony VAIO VPCF127FJ/W battery The custom was continued by Botticelli who produced a series of Madonnas over a period of twenty years for the Medici; Perugino, whose Madonnas and saints are known for their sweetness and Leonardo da Vinci, for whom a number of small attributed Madonnas such as the Benois Madonna have survived. Sony VAIO VPCF128FJ/B battery Even Michelangelo who was primarily a sculptor, was persuaded to paint the Doni Tondo, while for Raphael, they are among his most popular and numerous works. One of the most influential painters of northern Italy was Andrea Mantegna of Padua, Sony VAIO VPCF129FJ/BI battery who had the good fortune to be in his teen years at the time in which the great Florentine sculptor Donatello was working there. Donatello created the enormous equestrian bronze, the first since the Roman Empire, of the condotieroGattemelata, still visible on its plinth in the square outside the Basilica of Sant'Antonio. Sony VAIO VPCF12AFJ battery He also worked on the high altar and created a series of bronze panels in which he achieved a remarkable illusion of depth, with perspective in the architectural settings and apparent roundness of the human form all in very shallow relief. Sony VAIO VPCF12AGJ battery At only 17 years old, Mantegna accepted his first commission, fresco cycles of the Lives of Saints James and Christopher for the Eremitani Chapel, near the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Unfortunately the building was mostly destroyed during World War II, and they are only known from photographs which reveal an already highly developed sense of perspective and a knowledge of antiquity, Sony VAIO VPCF12AHJ battery for which the ancient University of Padua had become well known, early in the 15th century. Mantegna's last work in Padua was a monumental San Zeno altarpiece, created for the abbot of the Basilica of San Zeno, Verona from 1457 to 1459. Sony VAIO VPCF135FG battery This polyptych of which the predella panels are particularly notable for the handling of landscape elements, was to influence the further development of Renaissance art in Northern Italy including artists of the school of Verona, Francesco Morone, Liberale da Verona and Girolamo dai Libri. Sony VAIO VPCF138FC/BI battery Mantegna's most famous work is the interior decoration of the Camera degli Sposi for the Gonzaga family in Mantua, dated about 1470. The walls are frescoed with scenes of the life of the Gonzaga family, talking, greeting a younger son and his tutor on their return from Rome, Sony VAIO VPCF138FJ/B battery preparing for a hunt and other such scenes which make no obvious reference to matters historic, literary, philosophic or religious. They are remarkable for simply being about family life. The one concession is the scattering of jolly winged cherubs who hold up plaques and garlands and clamber on the illusionistic Sony VAIO VPCF139FJ/BI battery pierced balustrade that surrounds atrompe l'oeil view of the sky that decks the ceiling of the chamber. While Mantegna was working for the Gonzagas in Mantua, a very different painter was being employed to design an even more ambitious scheme for the Este familyof Ferrara. Sony VAIO VPCF13AFJ battery Cosmè Tura's painting is highly distinctive, both strangely Gothic yet Classicising at the same time. Tura poses Classical figures as if they were saints, surrounds them with luminous symbolic motifs of surreal perfection and clothes them in garments that appear to be crafted out of intricately folded and enamelled copper. Sony VAIO VPCF13AGJ battery Borso d'Este's family had constructed a large banquetting hall and suite known as the Palazzo Schifanoia. Borso, according to Tura's personal records, employed him in 1470 to design the decorative scheme for the banquetting hall, to be executed by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de' Roberti. The scheme is both symbolically complex and elaborate in execution. Sony VAIO VPCF13AHJ battery The overriding theme is theCycle of the Year as represented by the signs of the zodiac accompanied by the mysterious Deans each ruling ten days of the month. Above them, seated in a spectacular array of chariots drawn by lions, eagles, unicorns and other such beasts, are twelve Roman deities with their various attributes. Sony VAIO VPCF13M8E/B battery In the lower tiers, as in the Camera degli Sposi, are shown the life of the family. For the month of March, for example, the figure of Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, is represented and in the panel beneath Borso d'Este is administering justice, while in the distance workers are pruning vines. Sony VAIO VPCF13Z0E/B battery Although areas of the frescoes are very badly damaged to the extent that the subject can no longer be identified, and although there are several different hands apparent in the works, there appears to be a consistency in the design of every remaining scene that shows the overriding eccentric style of Cosmè Tura. Sony VAIO VPCF13ZHJ battery In 1442 Alfonso V of Aragon became ruler of Naples, bringing with him a collection of Flemish paintings and setting up a Humanist Academy. The painter Antonello da Messina seems to have had access to the King's collection, which may have included the works of Jan van Eyck. Sony VAIO VPCF148FJ/B battery He seems to have been exposed to Flemish painting at a date earlier than the Florentines, to have quickly seen the potential of oils as a medium and then painted in nothing else. He carried the technique north to Venice with him, where it was soon adopted by Giovanni Bellini and became the favoured medium of the maritime republic where the art of fresco had never been a great success. Sony VAIO VPCF149FJ/BI battery Antonello da Messina painted mostly small meticulous portraits in glowing colours. But one of his most famous works also demonstrates his superior ability at handling linear perspective and light. This is the small painting of St. Jerome in His Study, in which the composition is framed by a late Gothic arch, through which is viewed an interior, domestic on one side and ecclesiastic on the other, Sony VAIO VPCF14AFJ battery in the centre of which the saint sits in a wooden corral surrounded by his possessions while his lion prowls in the shadows on the tiled floor. The way that the light streams in through every door and window casting both natural light and reflected light across the architecture and all the objects would have excited Piero della Francesca. Sony VAIO VPCF14AGJ battery Antonello's work influenced both Gentile Bellini, who did a series of paintings of Miracles of Venice for the Scuola di Santa Croce, and his more famous brother, Giovanni, one of the most significant painters of the High Renaissance in Northern Italy. Sony VAIO VPCF14AHJ battery In Florence, in the later 15th century, most works of art, even those that were done as decoration for churches, were generally commissioned and paid for by private patrons. Much of the patronage came from the Medici family, or those who were closely associated with or related to them, such as the Sassetti, the Ruccellai and the Tornabuoni. Sony VAIO VPCF14ZHJ battery In the 1460s Cosimo de' Medici the Elder had established Marsilio Ficino as his resident Humanistphilosopher, and facilitated his translation of Plato and his teaching of Platonic philosophy, which focused on humanity as the centre of the natural universe, on each person's personal relationship with God, Sony VAIO VPCF217HG battery and on fraternal or "platonic" love as being the closest that a person could get to emulating or understanding the love of God. In the Medieval period, everything related to the Classical period was perceived as associated with paganism. Sony VAIO VPCF217HG/BI battery In the Renaissance it came increasingly to be associated with enlightenment. The figures of Classical mythology began to take on a new symbolic role in Christian art and in particular, the Goddess Venus took on a new discretion. Born fully formed, by a sort of miracle, she was the newEve, Sony VAIO VPCF217FG battery symbol of innocent love, or even, by extension, a symbol of the Virgin Mary herself. We see Venus in both these roles in the two famous tempera paintings that Botticelli did in the 1480s for Cosimo's nephew, Pierfrancesco Medici, the Primavera and the Birth of Venus. Sony VAIO VPCF217FG/BI battery Meanwhile, Domenico Ghirlandaio, a meticulous and accurate draughtsman and one of the finest portrait painters of his age, executed two cycles of frescoes for Medici associates in two of Florence's larger churches, the Sassetti Chapel at Santa Trinita and the Tornabuoni Chapel at Santa Maria Novella. Sony VAIO VPCF219FJ/BI battery In these cycles of the Life of St Francis and the Life of the Virgin Mary and Life of John the Baptist there was room for portraits of patrons and of the patrons' patrons. Thanks to Sassetti's patronage, there is a portrait of the man himself, with his employer, Sony VAIO VPCF21AFJ battery Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Lorenzo's three sons with their tutor, the Humanist poet and philosopher, Agnolo Poliziano. In the Tornabuoni Chapel is another portrait of Poliziano, accompanied by the other influential members of the Platonic Academy including Marsilio Ficino. Sony VAIO VPCF21AGJ battery From about 1450, with the arrival in Italy of the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden and possibly earlier, artists were introduced to the medium of oil paint. Whereas both tempera and fresco lent themselves to the depiction of pattern, neither presented a successful way to represent natural textures realistically. Sony VAIO VPCF21AHJ battery The highly flexibly medium of oils, which could be made opaque or transparent, and allowed alteration and additions for days after it had been laid down, opened a new world of possibility to Italian artists. In 1475 a huge altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds arrived in Florence. Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI battery Painted byHugo van der Goes at the behest of the Portinari family, it was shipped out from Bruges and installed in the Chapel of Sant' Egidio at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. The altarpiece glows with intense reds and greens, contrasting with the glossy black velvet robes of the Portinari donors. Sony VAIO VPCF21ZHJ battery In the foreground is a still life of flowers in contrasting containers, one of glazed pottery and the other of glass. The glass vase alone was enough to excite attention. But the most influential aspect of the triptych was the extremely natural and lifelike quality of the three shepherds with stubbly beards, Sony VAIO VPCF115FG/B battery workworn hands and expressions ranging from adoration to wonder to incomprehension. Domenico Ghirlandaio promptly painted his own version, with a beautiful Italian Madonna in place of the long-faced Flemish one, and himself, gesturing theatrically, as one of the shepherds. Sony VAIO VPCF116FG/BI battery In 1477 Pope Sixtus IV replaced the derelict old chapel at the Vatican in which many of the Papal services were held. The interior of the new chapel, named theSistine Chapel in his honour, appears to have been planned from the start to have a series of 16 large frescoes between its pilasters on the middle level, with a series of painted portraits of popes above them. Sony VAIO VPCF117HG/BI battery In 1480, a group of artists from Florence was commissioned with the work: Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli. This fresco cycle was to depict Stories of the Life of Moses on one side of the chapel, and Stories of the Life of Christ on the other with the frescoes complementing each other in theme. Sony VAIO VPCF119FC battery The Nativity of Jesus and the Finding of Moses were adjacent on the wall behind the altar, with an altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virginbetween them. These paintings, all by Perugino, were later destroyed to paint Michelangelo's Last Judgement. Sony VAIO VPCF119FC/BI battery The remaining 12 pictures indicate the virtuosity that these artists had attained, and the obvious cooperation between individuals who normally employed very different styles and who had very different skills. The paintings gave full range to their capabilities as they included a great number of figures of men, Sony VAIO VPCF119FJ battery women and children and characters ranging from guiding angels to enragedPharaohs and the devil himself. Each painting required a landscape. Because of the scale of the figures that the artists agreed upon, in each picture, the landscape and sky take up the whole upper half of the scene. Sony VAIO VPCF11JFX/B battery Sometimes, as in Botticelli's scene of The Purification of the Leper, there are additional small narratives taking place in the landscape, in this case The Temptations of Christ. Perugino's scene of Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter is remarkable for the clarity and simplicity of its composition, Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E battery the beauty of the figurative painting, which includes a self-portrait among the onlookers, and especially the perspective cityscape which includes reference to Peter's ministry to Rome by the presence of two triumphal arches, and centrally placed an octagonal building which might be a Christian baptistry or a Roman Mausoleum. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery Leonardo, because of the scope of his interests and the extraordinary degree of talent that he demonstrated in so many diverse areas, is regarded as the archetypal "Renaissance man". But it was first and foremost as a painter that he was admired within his own time, and as a painter, he drew on the knowledge that he gained from all his other interests. Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E battery Leonardo was a scientific observer. He learned by looking at things. He studied and drew the flowers of the fields, the eddies of the river, the form of the rocks and mountains, the way light reflected from foliage and sparkled in a jewel. In particular, he studied the human form, dissecting thirty or more unclaimed cadavers from a hospital in order to understand muscles and sinews. Sony VAIO VPCF11Z1E battery More than any other artist, he advanced the study of "atmosphere". In his paintings such as the Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks, he used light and shade with such subtlety that, for want of a better word, it became known as Leonardo's "sfumato" or "smoke".Sony VAIO VPCF127HG/BI battery Simultaneous to inviting the viewer into a mysterious world of shifting shadows, chaotic mountains and whirling torrents, Leonardo achieved a degree of realism in the expression of human emotion, prefigured by Giotto but unknown since Masaccio's Adam and Eve. Leonardo's Last Supper, painted in the refectory of a monastery in Milan, Sony VAIO VPCF135FG/B battery became the benchmark for religious narrative painting for the next half millennium. Many other Renaissance artists painted versions of the Last Supper, but only Leonardo's was destined to be reproduced countless times in wood, alabaster, plaster, lithograph, tapestry, crochet and table-carpets. Sony VAIO VPCF136FG/BI battery Apart from the direct impact of the works themselves, Leonardo's studies of light, anatomy, landscape, and human expression were disseminated in part through his generosity to a retinue of students. In 1508 Pope Julius II succeeded in getting the sculptor Michelangelo to agree to continue the decorative scheme of the Sistine Chapel. Sony VAIO VPCF137HG/BI battery The Sistine Chapel ceiling was constructed in such a way that there were twelve sloping pendentives supporting the vault that formed ideal surfaces on which to paint the Twelve Apostles. Michelangelo, who had yielded to the Pope's demands with little grace, soon devised an entirely different scheme, far more complex both in design and in iconography. Sony VAIO VPCF135Z1E/B battery The scale of the work, which he executed single handed except for manual assistance, was titanic and took nearly five years to complete.