EARLY RENAISSANCE PERIOD, 1400-1500.
Gentile da Fabriano (1370?1428), born in Fabriano, is the earliest very important name. He was under Florentine influence. His work bears some resemblance to that of Fra Angelico, but has less of the devotional feeling.
‘ Gentile’s paintings possess a very cheerful air ; the figures are full of grace, despite the artist’s imperfect knowledge of foreshortening. Gold is used in abundance on the garments, and the technique is minute and most delicate.
Representative works :
Adoration of the Magi.” Academy, Florence.
Panels in Church of San Niccolò, Florence.
” Presentation in the Temple.” Louvre, Paris.
Piero della Francesca (14201492) is famous as a writer on higher mathematics and the laws of perspective as well as painter. His work is affected by Florentine influence. It is possible that he was under the instruction of Paolo Uccello (see Florentine School). He was one of the artists invited to Rome by Pope Nicholas V, whose works in the Vatican were destroyed in order to make room for the frescoes of Raphael.
Characteristics. His conceptions are broad and simple, his figures grand, though somewhat ungainly, and clad in quaint parti-colored costumes. His foreshortenings are fine.
A peculiar type is seen in his female heads, very high projecting foreheads and broad faces with wide nostrils and thick lips.
His landscape backgrounds are in advance of others of his time in composition and general treatment. Representative works : Frescoes illustrating the miraculous legend of the Holy Cross. San Francesco, Arezzo.
“Resurrection.” Monte di Pietà, Borgo San Sepolcro.
Pictures in Gallery, Perugia, and Academy, Venice.
” Baptism of Christ.” National Gallery, London. This is one of his most beautiful and characteristic works.
Melozzo da Forli (14381494) is important both as architect and painter. He was a fellow-pupil of Bramante in Urbino and may have been under the instruction of Piero da Francesca. His work is bold and original, and possesses a strongly decorative character. His angels, grand and beautiful youthful figures, with an abundance of curling hair and clad in voluminous draperies, are justly famous.
Most important works :
FRESCOES. Vatican, Rome.
Angels. Sacristy of St. Peter’s, Rome.
Representative pictures are in Berlin Museum and National Gallery, London.
Perugino (Pietro Vanucci, 1446-1524), born at Città della Pieva, a little town in Umbria, was called Perugino because at maturity he settled in Perugia, established an academy, and there won his fame.
Much of the excellence of his work is due to the study of Florentine masters. He was one of the first artists in central Italy to handle the new oil medium successfully.
For several years he was the master of Raphael. It is said that no pupils ever imitated a master so closely as did those of Perugino ; and surely Raphael in his earliest works painted completely in his style.
Characteristics.His pictures are pervaded by an extremely tender religious feeling.
His composition is formal and conventional, with a careful balancing of simple masses.
His figures are always quiet, slender, and graceful, but affected, especially in the placing of the head on the shoulders. This mannerism, when once observed, causes all his work to be readily recognized.
His faces are sentimental ; the eyes often cast upward with a wistful look.
His coloring is very rich, warm, and transparent. His early work is by far his best, for he fell into a habit of repeating himself until some of his later pictures exhibit a painful mechanism. His greatest works are his frescoes.
Representative works :
FRESCO. Sistine Chapel of Vatican, Rome.
FRESCO. “Crucifixion.” S. Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Florence. Series of frescoes. Sala del Cambio, Perugia.
“Assumption of the Virgin.” Academy, Florence.
“Vision of St. Bernard.” Old Pinacothek, Munich.
Altar-piece. National Gallery, London. On the wings of this picture are the figures of the archangels Michael and Raphael ; the beauty of the latter has been thought by some critics to indicate the assistance of the youthful Raphael.
Perugino’s easel paintings are to be found in all great European art galleries.
Pinturicchio (Bernardino Betti, 1454-1513), born at Perugia, was a friend and fellow-worker of Perugino. His art name, Pinturicchio, means ” the little painter,” and was given him on account of his low stature. Sometimes he has been called Il Sordichio, on account of his deafness.
He is the historical painter of this school and was highly gifted. He was a perfect master of mural decoration ; never attempted the use of oil, but executed all his paintings in fresco and tempera. In some of his work he is supposed to have been assisted by Raphael.
Characteristics. His paintings are a series of story tellings into which many characters are introduced. The general spirit is cheerful, even gay ; the invention of the artist seems endless. He was an intelligent and original observer of nature, many of his incidents, in both subject and treatment, bordering on naturalism.
In type of figure and face he somewhat resembles Perugino, though less sentimental and affected.
His landscape backgrounds are filled, even crowded, with architecture, animals, etc. His color is very full and rich, and admirably preserved. It is cooler than that of Perugino, as he was very fond of using ultramarine.’
Most important works :
Frescoes representing scenes in Life of Pope Pius II. Cathedral Library, Sienna.
Series of frescoes. Collegiate Church, Spello.
FRESCOES. S. Maria Aracoeli, Rome.
FRESCOES. Sistine Chapel and ” Appartamento Borgia,” Rome. Altar-piece. Academy, Sienna.
Lo Spagna (Giovanni di Pietro, 1530) is the greatest of Perugino’s pupils after Raphael. Few circumstances of his life are known. His first paintings are in close imitation of Perugino, but later ones follow the style of Raphael. Some of the works now attributed to Lo Spagna have hitherto been considered to be youthful efforts of Raphael. There is in them the same spiritual elevation and delicacy of beauty that mark Raphael’s work. Unfortunately many of his frescoes are in a bad state of preservation.
Most important works :
FRESCOES (scenes from the Life of St. James). Spoleto. FRESCOES (transferred to canvas). Capitoline Museum, Rome, and Louvre, Paris.
Madonna Enthroned.” Church of St. Francis, Assisi.
” Adoration of the Magi” (called ” Ancajani Raphael,” and long attributed to Raphael). Berlin Museum.
HIGH RENAISSANCE PERIOD, 1500-1600.
Raphael Sanzio (14831520) was born in Urbino and is another of the ” quartet of world-masters of painting.” His first instructor was his father, Giovanni Santi, who was probably a pupil of Melozzo da Forli, and who was an excellent painter. Giovanni Santi’s importance in this school has only been lately recognized. After the father’s death, which occurred when Raphael was about eleven years old, he was, doubtless, for a time, under the instruction of Timoteo Viti (see Bolognese School, p. 121). This accounts for certain marked characteristics of this northern school visible in Raphael’s earliest works.
Afterward he entered the school of Perugino in Perugia, where he remained for several years. The question whether he went to Sienna, on the invitation of Pinturicchio, and assisted that artist in his work there is not definitely settled, but probabilities indicate that this was the case. Then he visited Florence, remaining four years, where he was brought into contact with the greatest art workers and masters of Italy, and where he formed that intimacy with Fra Bartolommeo that was so beneficial to both artists.
In 1508 he settled in Rome, having gone thither at the request of the art-loving Pope Julius II, and lived and painted in that city until his early death.
In studying the life and work of Raphael we must always remember the man himself, his high moral and intellectual character. He seems to have been from his childhood a seeker of that which is highest. All the individual traits of intellectual and moral life were admirably balanced in him.
Although he may well be called an ” Apostle of Beauty,” the beauty he portrays seldom approaches the sensuous ; it is a noble, intellectual, moral, spiritual beauty, which must have had its counterpart in the soul of the artist. From each of those great masters whose works he studied, he assimilated that which was highest and best, and thus formed a style peculiar to himself. Whether in grand decorative compositions, in lofty ideal conceptions, in the treatment of religious subjects or in the highest type of portraiture, he is always the great master, ever struggling to attain his high ideal the perfection of beauty and truth. No other artist has ever approached him in the number of noble pic tures painted in so few years of time.
Raphael lost his life, probably, owing to the overwhelming amount of his work. It is thought that he made an extraordinary effort in his last picture, ” The Transfiguration,” owing to the rivalry of Sebastian del Piombo (Venetian School), whom Michael Angelo is said to have pitted against him as an oil painter. He died on his thirty-seventh birthday, leaving this great picture unfinished.
Characteristics. We often hear the art of Raphael compared with that of Michael Angelo, but there can be no real comparison between the two because they are so essentially opposed one to the other. The chief element of Michael Angelo’s painting is the portrayal of strength, of power ; with Raphael, as with Greek art, the whole endeavor is to render a serene, harmonious beauty.
Through Michael Angelo’s art we see the master’s own prodigious personality ; in Raphael’s we feel the sum of all the highest influences to which he had been subjected.
In Raphael’s work the treatment is subordinate to the conception, for he was often careless in execution.
He painted in three great styles : the first, Peruginesque, in which he imitated Perugino very closely ; the second, Florentine, used very soon after he went to Florence, and while engaged in the study of Florentine art ; and the third, Roman, used after he had been brought into close contact in Rome with Michael Angelo. By far the larger number and the most important of his works are painted in the Roman style.
It is difficult to designate the especial characteristics of Raphael’s style, so full of diverse influences is it. He gathered up all the excellencies of the High Renaissance and embodied them in himself. His work is marked by noble subjects, fine composition, serene landscape back-grounds, correct drawing, true perspective, grace and naturalness of the human figure, beauty and gentleness of expression, pleasing color, and excellent chiaroscuro.
Because he so readily assimilated characteristics of other artists, his work differs at various times in his life.
His early Madonnas are fair-haired young matrons, full of grace and tenderness ; his later ones have dark hair. Their faces are very feminine (in some cases weak), oval, with slender chin, straight nose, and small mouth.
His Child Christs possess more of an inexplicable expression than other artists have succeeded in representing ; something about the mouth and eyes tells that this child is not like common children. This expression reaches its height in the Sistine Madonna.
His cherubs, a reminiscence of Fra Bartolommeo, are most engaging and artless.
In painting many of his pictures he was assisted by pupils. Most important works :
” Coronation of the Virgin.” Vatican Gallery, Rome. Painted for San Francesco, Perugia, while Raphael was yet living in that city.
” La Sposalizio,” or ” Marriage of the Virgin.” Brera Gallery, Milan.
“Madonna del Gran Duca.” Pitti Gallery, Florence. This picture was painted in Florence and is the highest type possible to the Peruginesque style. It received its name from having been once in the possession of a grand duke of Tuscany, who is said to have carried the picture with him wherever he went, and to have used it as a shrine in his devotions.
” Madonna del Cardellino,” or ” Madonna with the Goldfinch.” Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
” La Belle Jardinière.” Louvre, Paris.
” Ansidei Madonna.” National Gallery, London.
Portraits of Angelo and Maddalena Doni. Pitti Gallery, Florence.
Frescoes in “Raphael’s Stanze.” Vatican, Rome. In these the design is Raphael’s ; some of the painting is by his pupils. FRESCO. ” Galatea.” Villa Farnesina, Rome.
Cartoons for Tapestries. South Kensington Museum, London.
” The Transfiguration.” Vatican Gallery, Rome. One of the twelve pictures sometimes called ” World Pictures “I ; left unfinished at Raphael’s death and completed by Julio Romano. A copy in mosaics is in St. Peter’s, Rome.
” Madonna di Foligno.” Vatican Gallery, Rome.
” Madonna della Sedia.” Pitti Gallery, Florence.
” St. Cecilia.” Gallery, Bologna.
” Madonna di San Sisto,” one of the twelve pictures sometimes called ” World Pictures.” 1 This, the most famous Madonna in the world, was painted for the Church of San Sisto in Piacenza, hence its name. It was painted wholly by Raphael his last Madonna. In it we see a divine Mother and a divine Child. Pope Sixtus kneels reverently on one side, and is directing the attention of the Madonna to a crowd of worshippers outside the picture. St. Barbara kneels on the other side with bowed head and downcast eyes ; below are the two cherubs so well known through reproduction.
Portraits of Pope Julius II and Pope Leo X. Pitti Gallery, Florence.
” La Donna Velata.” Pitti Gallery (marked ” unknown,” but fully authentic).
“La Fornarina.” Barberini Gallery, Rome.
Many representative pictures are in all European galleries.
Julio Romano (Giulio Pippi, 14921546) is the most eminent of Raphael’s scholars, and was his ablest assistant. He imitated his master closely so long as he wrought with him, but after the death of the latter Romano’s work grew coarse and extravagant.
His design is the best part of his pictures. He is wanting in sentiment, his coloring is dull and heavy a brick red predominating in much of his work. His influence led toward the coming decadence of Italian art.
Representative works :
Frescoes (under Raphael) in Sala di Constantino, Vatican, Rome. FRESCOES. Ducal Palace, Mantua, and in Palazzo del Tè, near Mantua.
Altar-piece. San Stefano, Genoa.
” Apollo and Muses.” Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Holy Family.” Dresden Gallery.
” Education of Jupiter.” National Gallery, London.
Several pictures in Louvre, Paris.
Francesco Primaticcio (15041570) and Perino del Vaga (15001547) are other followers and assistants of Raphael who imitated closely that master’s style during his life, but rapidly degenerated after his death. Their works are strongly decorative in character.
The Worlds Painters:Ancient Painting. Egyptian PaintingEarly Christian PaintingItalian Painting – Florentine Or Tuscan School – Pt. 1Italian Painting – Florentine Or Tuscan School (continued) – Pt. 2Italian Painting – Florentine Or Tuscan School (continued) – Pt. 3Italian Painting – Siennese SchoolItalian Painting – Roman Or Umbrian SchoolItalian Painting – Paduan SchoolItalian Painting – Venetian SchoolItalian Painting – Venetian School (continued) – Pt. 2Read More Articles About: The Worlds Painters