florentine painting


  • Giotto’s sense of light would have been influenced by the frescoes he had seen while working in Rome, and in his narrative wall paintings, particularly those commissioned
    by the Bardi family, his figures are placed in naturalistic space and possess dimension and dramatic expression.

  • Perugino’s scene of Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter is remarkable for the clarity and simplicity of its composition, 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 that might be a Christian
    baptistry or a Roman Mausoleum.

  • But he was the leading painter of history painting in the Medici court, although his work is now generally seen as straining after the impact that Michelangelo’s work has,
    and failing to achieve it.

  • In his short life he executed a number of large altarpieces, an impressive Classical fresco of the sea nymph, Galatea, outstanding portraits with two popes and a famous writer
    among them, and, while Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a series of wall frescoes in the Vatican chambers nearby, of which the School of Athens is uniquely significant.

  • [13] But the main source of Raphael’s popularity was not his major works, but his small Florentine pictures of the Madonna and Christ Child.

  • The 13th century witnessed an increase in demand for religious panel painting, particularly altarpieces, although the reason for this is obscure, early 14th-century Tuscan
    painters and woodworkers created altarpieces which were more elaborate, multipanelled pieces with complex framing.

  • Antonio del Pollaiuolo was a goldsmith as well as a printer, and engraved his Battle of the Nude Men himself; in its size and sophistication this took the Italian print to
    new levels, and remains one of the most famous prints of the Renaissance.

  • [2] 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.

  • Patronage and Humanism[edit] Botticelli: The Birth of Venus for the Medici 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.

  • Major commissions, such as the altarpiece for the Strozzi family (dating from around 1354-57) in Santa Maria Novella, were entrusted to Andrea di Cione, whose work, and in
    that of his brothers, are more iconic in their treatment of figures and have an earlier sense of compressed space.

  • 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’œil niche around the Holy Trinity he painted at Santa Maria Novella.

  • 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.

  • The earliest truly Renaissance images in Florence date from 1401, the first year of the century known in Italian as Quattrocento, synonymous with the Early Renaissance; however,
    they are not paintings.

  • A similar approach to light was used by his contemporaries such as Bernardo Daddi, their attention to naturalism was encouraged by the subjects commissioned for 14th-century
    Franciscan and Dominican churches, and was to influence Florentine painters in the following centuries.

  • 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.

  • This had become a common fault in Florentine painting by the decades after 1530, as many painters tried to emulate the giants of the High Renaissance.

  • 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.

  • By the Baroque period, the many painters working in Florence were rarely major figures.

  • Florence was the birthplace of the High Renaissance, but in the early 16th century the most important artists, including Michelangelo and Raphael were attracted to Rome, where
    the largest commissions then were.

  • Leonardo’s Last Supper, painted in the refectory of a monastery in Milan, became the benchmark for religious narrative painting for the next half millennium.

  • Painting and printmaking[edit] From around the mid-century, Florence became Italy’s leading centre of the new industry of printmaking, as some of the many Florentine goldsmiths
    turned to making plates for engravings.

  • During the first half of the 15th century, the achieving of the effect of realistic space in a painting by the employment of linear perspective was a major preoccupation of
    many painters, as well as the architects Brunelleschi and Alberti who both theorised about the subject.

  • Although Venentian artists were involved in the project, the Tuscan artists created expressive, lively scenes, showing emotional content unlike the prevailing Byzantine tradition.

  • Instead of studying nature directly, younger artists began studying Hellenistic sculpture and paintings of masters past.

  • Therefore, this style is often identified as “anti-classical”,[16] yet at the time it was considered a natural progression from the High Renaissance.

  • Duccio’s panel of around 1285, Madonna with Child enthroned and six Angels or Rucellai Madonna, for the Santa Maria Novella, now in the Uffizi Gallery, shows a development
    of the naturalistic space and form, and may not have been originally intended as altarpieces.

  • 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.

  • While some were traditional compositions such as those dealing with the order’s founder and early saints, others, such as scenes of recent events, people and places, had no
    precedent, allowing for invention.

  • The interior of the new chapel, named the Sistine 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.

  • Small Madonnas for the home were the bread and butter work of most painting workshops, often largely produced by the junior members following a model by the master.

  • Ghiberti has used the naked figure of Isaac to create a small sculpture in the Classical style.

  • Contracts of the time note that clients often had a woodwork shape in mind when commissioning an artist, and discussed the religious figures to be depicted with the artists.

  • Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through
    the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting.

  • It cannot be said of him that he greatly advanced the state of painting as his two famous contemporaries did.

  • Raphael: The School of Athens, commissioned by Pope Julius II to decorate a suite now known as the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican Raphael had the good luck to be born the son
    of a painter, so his career path, unlike that of Michelangelo who was the son of minor nobility, was decided without a quarrel.

  • 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

  • [7] High Renaissance Florence was the birthplace of the High Renaissance, but in the early 16th century the most important artists were attracted to Rome, where the largest
    commissions began to be.

  • Like the panels of the Virgin and Child painted for the Servite churches in Siena and Orvieto, sometimes attributed to Coppo, the Christ figure has a sense of volume.

  • 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.

  • This fresco depicts a meeting of all the most learned ancient Athenians, gathered in a grand classical setting around the central figure of Plato, whom Raphael has famously
    modelled upon Leonardo da Vinci.

  • In fact, the ancestors of Christ, which he painted around the upper section of the wall, demonstrate all the worst aspects of family relationships, displaying dysfunction
    in as many different forms as there are families.

  • Before 1400 The earliest distinctive Tuscan art, produced in the 13th century in Pisa and Lucca, formed the basis for later development.

  • Baroque By the Baroque period, Florence was no longer the most important centre of painting in Italy, but was important nonetheless.

  • His larger work, the Sistine Madonna, used as a design for countless stained glass windows, has come, in the 21st century, to provide the iconic image of two small cherubs
    which has been reproduced on everything from paper table napkins to umbrellas.

  • Later the leading purveyor was Botticelli and his workshop who produced large numbers of Madonnas for churches, homes, and also public buildings.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • In the same generation, Giorgio Vasari (d. 1574) is far better remembered as the author of the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, which had an
    enormous and lasting effect in establishing the reputation of the Florentine School.

  • At that date a competition was held to find an artist to create a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistry of St. John, the oldest remaining church in the city.

  • Coppo di Marcovaldo is said to have been responsible for the central figure of Christ and is the earliest Florentine artist involved in the project.

  • Nicola Pisano showed his appreciation of Classical forms as did his son, Giovanni Pisano, who carried the new ideas of Gothic sculpture into the Tuscan vernacular, forming
    figures of unprecedented naturalism.

  • Leonardo da Vinci[edit] 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”.

  • The Pope’s plan for the Apostles would thematically have formed a pictorial link between the Old Testament and New Testament narratives on the walls, and the popes in the
    gallery of portraits.

  • The oldest extant large scale Florentine pictorial project is the mosaic decoration of the interior of the dome of the Baptistery of St John, which began around 1225.

  • Another painting exists, a cityscape, by an unknown artist, perhaps Piero della Francesca, that demonstrates the sort of experiment that Brunelleschi had been making.

  • The paintings gave full range to their capabilities as they included a great number of figures of men, women and children and characters ranging from guiding angels to enraged
    Pharaohs and the devil himself.

  • His first signed and dated painting, executed at the age of 21, is the Betrothal of the Virgin, which immediately reveals its origins in Perugino’s Christ giving the Keys
    to Peter.

  • 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.

  • Early Renaissance, after 1400 Florence continued to be the most important centre of Italian Renaissance painting.

  • The figures are of superhuman dimension and, in the case of Adam, of such beauty that according to the biographer Vasari, it really looks as if God himself had designed the
    figure, rather than Michelangelo.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A similar process affected later Florentine artists.

  • Rather, his work was the culmination of all the developments of the High Renaissance.

  • Paolo Uccello, a hundred years later, experimented with the dramatic effect of light in some of his almost monochrome frescoes.

  • 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.

  • His first set of Baptistry doors took 27 years to complete, after which he was commissioned to make another.

  • [4] The Madonna[edit] One of several Annunciations by Fra Angelico, Prado The Blessed Virgin Mary, revered by the Catholic Church worldwide, was particularly evoked in Florence,
    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 honor.


Works Cited

[‘1. R.E. Wolf and R. Millen, Renaissance and Mannerist Art, (1968)
2. ^ Jump up to:a b Ornella Casazza, Masaccio and the Brancacci Chapel, (1990)
3. ^ Annarita Paolieri, Paolo Uccello, Domenico Veneziano, Andrea del Castagno, (1991)
4. ^ Peter
Murray and Pier Luigi Vecchi, Piero della Francesca, (1967)
5. ^ Jump up to:a b Hugh Ross Williamson, Lorenzo the Magnificent, (1974)
6. ^ Umberto Baldini, Primavera, (1984)
7. ^ Jump up to:a b c Giacometti, Massimo (1986). The Sistine Chapel.
8. ^
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, (1568), 1965 edition, trans George Bull, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-044164-6
9. ^ Jump up to:a b T.L.Taylor, The Vision of Michelangelo, Sydney University, (1982)
10. ^ Gabriel Bartz and Eberhard König, Michelangelo,
11. ^ Ludwig Goldschieder, Michelangelo, (1962)
12. ^ Diana Davies, “Raphael”, Harrap’s Illustrated Dictionary of Art and Artists, (1990)
13. ^ Some sources identify this figure as Il Sodoma, but it is an older, grey-haired man, while
Sodoma was in his 30s. Moreover, it strongly resembles several self-portraits of Perugino, who would have been about 60 at the time.
14. ^ David Thompson, Raphael, the Life and Legacy, (1983)
15. ^ Jean-Pierre Cuzin, Raphael, his Life and Works,
16. ^ Friedländer 1965,[page needed].
17. ^ Freedberg, Sidney J. 1993. Painting in Italy, 1500–1600, pp. 175-177, 3rd edition, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05586-2 (cloth) ISBN 0-300-05587-0 (pbk)
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