In the small Cabinet around the Court we find a few interesting examples of North Italian painters, who all were drawn to Milan where Leonardo da Vinci exerted his mighty influence. This resulted in a vacillation between their earlier adherence to the culture of the antique after the example of the Paduans and the gracefulness and pathetic sweetness of mood with purity of line and warmth of colour which later characterized them.
Bernardino Luini (1475-1532), sympathetic, charming, devoted to grace, and most susceptible to beauty, was one of the most prominent of the school. A follower of Leonardo from afar, but never his pupil, he still adapted his style so closely to that of da Vinci that their works have, until recently, been commonly confounded. He lacks, however, intellectuality, and his cloying sweetness bores in the end. The ” Madonna with Child ” (217)’, whereof the reds are varied and softly harmonious, has been much restored and lost entirely its original appearance. The Child is lightly draped and lies in the lap of its mother, to whom it extends an apple.
More striking is a strongly expressive profile portrait of a Cardinal (55), by Bernardino de Conti (active 1499-1522)’. The red cardinal’s cloak stands out as a massive block against the black background, while the triangle of the face with its billows of flesh, but with keen features pursed mouth, dilated nostrils and piercing eyes – is all the more luminous. Bernardino, together with Ambrogio de Predis, represents in Milan the archaic tendency of painting at a time when Leonardo for years had already been painting in a newer way. A ” Portrait of Margherita Colleone ” (208), in a light-grey, closely fitting gown, with wide sleeves, and a white veil over her hair, is also from his hand.
A forerunner of decadence was Giovanni Pedrini (active 1510-1530), a pupil of Leonardo. His favourite theme was the repentant Magdalene, whereof we have an example (205). His only object apparently was to paint the charm of surface of the smooth skin. It is not the nude painting as we shall see it with Correggio and Titian, but such as van der Werff, Bouguereau, and many others produced porcelain bisque with rouge and cream. A semi-nude ” St. Catharine ” (215) gives him the same opportunity, although the scene of her martyrdom, between two ,teethed wheels on which the fire from heaven is descending, adds some pathos.
The most significant painter of Brescia was Giambattista Moroni (1520-1578), one of the strongest and most characterful portrait painters, but uninventive’ and weak in his altarpieces. His two portraits of men (167, 193) are full of a modern spirit and treatment. They are both dressed in black, a fashion which was then re-placing the multi-coloured costume of the past. With the black only green and white are used, besides the colourful faces.
We find also in this cabinet a ” Holy Family with St. Francis ” (227), by the principal Ferrarese of the sixteenth century, Dosso Dossi (1479-1542), who really belongs in the previous gallery. He was richly endowed with a feeling for poetic effects of light and colour, painted with ease and richness of tone.
( Originally Published 1912 )
The Art of The Berlin Galleries:The Kaiser Friedrich Museum – History Of The CollectionThe Italian PaintingsRoom 29 – Italian Paintings Of The 14th, And The First Half Of The 15th CenturyRoom 30 – Florentine Paintings Of The 15th CenturySculpture In Marble Of Donatello And Desiderio, And Old Florentine PaintingsRooms 34 Ferrarese And Bolognese Paintings Of The 15th And 16th CenturiesRoom 35 – Lombard PaintingsRoom 64 – The Carpets After Raphael’s CartoonsRoom 38 – Florentine Paintings Of The 15th CenturyRoom 37 – Umbrian And Paduan Paintings Of The 15th CenturyRead More Articles About: The Art of The Berlin Galleries