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Lecture

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Department
Art
Course
FAH337H1
Professor
Trevor Purvis
Semester
Spring

Description
The sense of competition between artistic medium revolves around the idea of which is better, painting or sculpture. What we see in the 15 th Century is visual comparison and during Leonardo’s time we start to see more formalized comparisons. Vasari talking about Mantegna: he got his first commission and jealously builds between him and Squarcione. Mantegna use of oil to paint stone like images and the image here “Andrea Mantegna’s St. Sebastian 1480, imitates antique sculpture. He also shows his knowledge of human form, very classically based male nude and figure. He also shows his knowledge of antique architecture. He is also showing his ability and knowledge of antique sculpture. Right at eye level is where St. Sebastian’s feet are, there is a natural draw to the base designed extensively with antique details. These are depictions of sculpture and flesh and in pairing them, he is showing very clearly just how good he is at rendering believable stone right next to some thing that looks like a believable human form (flesh, blood, and bone). “Giisahille” : Take biblical stories and classical stories as their subjects. For example: Mantegna, Samson and Delilah, c. 1490-95; here it seems we are looking at a marble or grey stone that has been used to create a relief carving. Uses this painting to show an illusionistic suggestion of space. He places the figures in front a background that makes it seem as if he is making a comparison between different materials: color vs. non- color, blackness of the colored background vs. whiteness of his “marble”. Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, Baptism of Christ, ca. 1475, Florence, Uffizi Imitation in art. looking at Leo's contribution to Verrocchio’s angels. We also see how Leo is involved in the comparison with sculpture. For example, comparing ‘Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, 1478-80’ and ‘Verrocchio, Portrait of Woman with a Posey, 1475-80’Leo borrowed from the sculpture in terms of the hair and the placement of their hands, as well as their facial features. There are similarities between these two. Leo modeled the painting on the sculpture, the back of the painting is also decorated and imitating another surface. The back is designed to imitate the poryphy stone (purple stone), here he is imitating in paint, the expensive antic stone along with the flowers. Around her head is a series of leaves froma tree that plays on her name. The inscription on the back says “Virtutem Forma Decorat” = “beauty adorns virtue” Here we see Leo trying to combine these two modes of existing, worlds. There is an advantage for painting because it has color which is what sculpture doesn’t have. The sense of life- likeness that sculpture lacks. Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni, 1480 Painting is statuesque He has set up a juxtaposition, the beautiful face of the subject next to the colors like the gold clothing, her flushed skin, the gold hair, red brotch, pearls vs her white skin He also tries to engage with the idea of a sense of character of the sitter. This is difficult because the sitter isn’t engaging with the painter in anyway. Yet he does this by using words to communicate this idea of the relationship between outer beauty and inner beauty, outer virtue and inner virtue. He uses the words of a Roman poet Martial and includes the writing/text into a painting using or folding in in her hands. Leonardo like in the Adorationof the Magi (1480-82) using highlights and shadows to bring the individuals together in a unified group. There are two levels on which he operating, i.e. he is picking out highlights, facial expression with the figures emerging out of dark shadows ; these works to bring out individual elements while also tying together the entire group. The grounding that is all light and shadow will affect the colors put on top of it. In the Madonna of the Rocks, 1483-90, the light and dark has an effect on the color scheme of the figures and painting itself. It allows him to merge these figures and integrate them better into settings and into groupings among themselves, ties pictures together chromatically as well as compositionally. Sculpture and Leonardo: he had a sculpture commission, he had to compete with his immediate predecessor, other equestrian monuments as well as other antiquity. Element rivalry: A type of technical accomplishment that would have put him above everyone else. There is also the element of nature. Leonardo’s obsession with horses and their nature, one of the things he compared and the argument that sculptors give as to why their work is harder is that there are more than one side to sculpt nature, Leo
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