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
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
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
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
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