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Michelangelo, like Leonardo, was a man of many talents; sculptor, architect, painter and poet, he made the apotheosis of muscular movement, which to him was the physical manifestation of passion. He moulded his draughtsmanship, bent it, twisted it, and stretched it to the extreme limits of possibility. There are not any landscapes in Michelangelo's painting. All the emotions, all the passions, all the thoughts of humanity were personified in his eyes in the naked bodies of men and women. He rarely conceived his human forms in attitudes of immobility or repose. Michelangelo became a painter so that he could express in a more malleable material what his titanesque soul felt, what his sculptor's imagination saw, but what sculpture refused him. Thus this admirable sculptor became the creator, at the Vatican, of the most lyrical and epic decoration ever seen: the Sistine Chapel. The profusion of his invention is spread over this vast area of over 900 square metres. There are 343 principal figures of prodigious variety of expression, many of colossal size, and in addition a great number of subsidiary ones introduced for decorative effect. The creator of this vast scheme was only thirty-four when he began his work. Michelangelo compels us to enlarge our conception of what is beautiful. To the Greeks it was physical perfection; but Michelangelo cared little for physical beauty, except in a few instances, such as his painting of Adam on the Sistine ceiling, and his sculptures of the Pietà. Though a master of anatomy and of the laws of composition, he dared to disregard both if it were necessary to express his concept: to exaggerate the muscles of his figures, and even put them in positions the human body could not naturally assume. In his later painting, The Last Judgment on the end wall of the Sistine, he poured out his soul like a torrent. Michelangelo was the first to make the human form express a variety of emotions. In his hands emotion became an instrument upon which he played, extracting themes and harmonies of infinite variety. His figures carry our imagination far beyond the personal meaning of the names attached to them.



Publié par
Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783100231
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Author: Eugene Müntz
Translator: Arthur Borges

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No part of this publication may be reproduced or adapted without the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world. Unless otherwise specified, copyright on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers, artists, heirs or estates. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case, we would appreciate notification.

ISBN: 978-1-78310-023-1
Eugene Müntz



Late Re n aissance Sculpture
The Oeuvre
Late Renaissance Painting And Drawing
The Oeuvre
Late Renaissance Architecture
The Oeuvre
Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra , Portrait of Michelangelo, c. 1533.
Black chalk.
Teylers Museum, Haarlem.

Raphael , Portrait of Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Luigi de’ Rossi, c. 1517.
Oil on wood, 154 x 119 cm .
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

The Brancacci Chapel and Uffizi Gallery in Florence amply illustrate the powerful influence on Michelangelo of his fellow masters. Cimabue ’ s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Eight Angels and Four Prophets and Giotto ’ s Ognissanti Madonna , both at the Uffizi, as well as Masaccio ’ s Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise at the Brancacci, all feed directly into one of the most talented and famous artists of Italy ’ s 16 th century.
Up until the 14 th century, artists ranked among the lower-class manual labour workers. After many years of neglect, Florence began importing Greek painters to reinvigorate painting, which had become stuck in a Byzantine style that was stiff, repetitious, and top-heavy with gold.
Born in Arezzo, Margaritone was one little-known 14 th -century painter who broke away from the ‘ Greek style ’ that permeated painting and mosaics. Though a true pioneer, he is less remembered than Cimabue and Giotto. Also greatly influenced by Greek painting, Cimabue was a Florentine sculptor and painter who quickly injected brighter, more natural, and vivacious colours into his paintings. We are still a long way from Michelangelo ’ s Sistine Chapel, but painting was now moving in its direction.
No later than the early 14 th century, Giotto di Bondone had fully emancipated Florentine painting from the Byzantine tradition. A student of Cimabue, he redefined the painting of his era. Between the aforementioned works of Cimabue and Giotto, a new trend stands out in the rendering of the Virgin ’ s face and clothing. Cimabue was breaking out of the Byzantine mould. In a later work, he would find himself influenced by one of his own students: Giotto ’ s Holy Virgin has a very lifelike gaze and cradles her infant in her arms like any normal caring young mother. The other figures in the composition appear less Byzantine and wear gold more sparingly. The pleating on her garb outlines the curves of her body. These features define his contribution to a 14 th -century revolution in Florentine art. His skills as a portrait and landscape artist served him well when he later became chief architect of the Opera del Duomo in Florence, the bell tower of which he started in the Florentine Gothic style. Like Michelangelo after him, he was a man of many talents. The 14 th century proved most dynamic and Giotto ’ s style spread wide and far thanks to Bernardo Daddi, Taddeo Gaddi, Andrea di Cione (known as Orcagna), and other heirs.
Cimabue , Santa Trinita Madonna , c. 1260-1280.
Tempera on panel, 385 x 223 cm .
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Giotto di Bondone , Maestà (Ognissanti Madonna), 1305-1310.
Tempera on wood, 325 x 204 cm .
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Fra Angelico , The Annunciation (landing of the second floor) , 1450.
Fresco, 230 x 321 cm .
Convento di San Marco, Florence.

Next came a period of International Gothic influence in the 15 th century, just as Masaccio erupted into the Florentine art scene with his rich intricacies of style. His impact on Michelangelo would be dramatic. Masaccio ’ s actual name was Tommaso di Giovanni Cassi; born in 1401, he died after only twenty-seven hyperactive years. He was among the first to be called by his given name, a sure sign of the new, higher social status for artists. Two of his noteworthy works include Trinity at the Santa Maria Novella and Expulsion from Paradise in the Brancacci Chapel. This leading revolutionary of Italian Renaissance art upset all the existing rules. Influenced by Giotto, Brunelleschi ’ s new architectural attitude to perspective, Donatello ’ s sculpture, along with other friends or cohorts, Masaccio added perspective into his frescoes alongside those of Brancacci, populated with figures so lifelike the eye almost senses their movements. Masaccio steers attention towards exactly what he wants you to notice, leaving viewers no leeway for apathy. Expulsion from Paradise is easily his masterpiece: hunched over with sin and guilt, the two figures radiate pure shame and suffering. It is distinctly more terrifying than Masolino ’ s treatment of the same theme opposite it. Late 20 th -century restoration work on the chapel abolished the fig leaves, bringing all genitalia back into full view: this was the first nude painting in history and Masaccio was now contributing art that was far removed from anything Byzantine. His painting was so original that Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Ingrès, and even Michelangelo himself all went out of their way to see it. Whatever direction their works took, each owed his debt to Masaccio.
Masaccio ’ s legacy is vast. Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (known as Fra Angelico) was deeply influenced by him, though many years his senior. This pious and humble Dominican friar completed lovely frescoes for the cloisters and cells of the San Marco Convent, including the Annunciation . Then came Domenico Veneziano, who ripened Fra Angelico ’ s style into the full firm substance and refinement specific to Florentine Renaissance art. In the mid-15 th century, humanist philosophy turned its back on the Middle Ages and reached out to Antiquity for inspiration. Meanwhile, art was looking to its Greco-Roman heritage as it, too, shunned all things medieval. Yet the term ‘ Renaissance ’ was only invented in the 19 th century when Jules Michelet published his History of the Renaissance in 1855.
Before going any further, we should review the different stages of the Renaissance. It is generally agreed that an initial ‘ Primitive ’ Renaissance spanned 1400 to 1480, followed by the ‘ Golden Age ’ from 1480 to between 1520 and 1530, closing with the Late Renaissance covering 1530 to 1600. Long considered decadent, this last period is only the logical end of a movement that dominated the 15 th and early 16 th centuries. Michelangelo started in the Golden Age and continued into the Late Renaissance when Mannerism came to the fore. By the mid-15 th century, Plato ’ s works had reached Florence and, with leveraging from the printing press, Marsilio Ficino helped spread the humanist view that placed man at the centre of the universe throughout Europe. The new focus on Antiquity stimulated painting, sculpture, and architecture, but by building on it rather than just borrowing. Florence was the cradle of the Italian Renaissance and from there it spread to Rome in ways we shall see.
The Renaissance was characterised by refinement in literature as much as art. Filippo Lippi and Benozzo Gozzoli are but two protégés of the Medici. Lorenzo de ’ Medici (known as Il Magnifico) stood out as the patron of numerous artists but other prominent families followed his example. One such beneficiary was Leonardo da Vinci, who studied in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, only to quickly surpass his mentor and drive him to despair. Da Vinci and Michelangelo went so far as to creatively emulate each other on occasion.
This was also the era of Sandro Botticelli ’ s Spring and Birth of Venus . If Botticelli ’ s strength lay in rendering the beauty, balance, grace, and harmony that typified 15 th -century Florence, Michelangelo ’ s focus lay entirely elsewhere. After Masolino and Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi ’ s son Filippino, also a student of Botticelli, went on to work on the Brancacci Chapel. Lippi ’ s frescoes in the Santa Maria Novella Church were already heralding the shift from the Golden Age to the Mannerism of the Late Renaissance.
Masaccio , Expulsion from Paradise.
Brancacci Chapel,
Santa Maria del Carmine, in Florence.
Botticelli , Primavera , c. 1482-1485.
Tempera on wood, 207 x 319 cm .
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Raphael , Portrait of a Woman, known as La Velata , c. 1512-1516.
Oil on canvas, 82 x 60.5 cm .
Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina e
Appartamenti Reali, Florence.

The 15 th century was as intense for religion as it was for art. The Dominicans of San Marco exerted strong influence on art, as witnessed in the works of Fra Angelico. At the close of the century, the general mood in Florence was fast deteriorating with the death of Il Magnifico and the extremist preachings of the self-styled fundamentalist prophet and book burner, Girolamo Savonarola. Savonarola had been out to eradicate immorality and corruption in the Medici family, clergy, and general population until he was finally arrested by the Inquisition, tortured, excommunicated, hanged, and then burned at the stake for good measure. Moreover, the Medici went into exile. All of these events seriously mutilated the local art scene. One upshot was that Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Benozzo

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