Italian Quattrocento Painting

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1 Italian Quattrocento Painting

2 Masaccio, Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden Desolate world outside of Garden of Eden Volumes are massive and simple Monumental, sculptural figures inspired by Giotto Dramatically cast shadows, also emphasizing weight and physicality; tragic intensity Adam ignores his nudity, covers his face for shame Eve s profound cry of despair 2 The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, before and after restoration

3 Masaccio, Holy Trinity Triangular form, dominated by perspective architecture inspired by Brunelleschi Christ is crucified and a member of the Trinity Viewpoint of average person standing in front and looking up at the cross Ancient Roman triumphal arch, round arch, pillars, pilasters Flanking Trinity is Mary and John, then on the next spatial plane the two kneeling donors Below is the tomb of a member of the donor s family, with his skeleton Inscription reads, I once was what you are, and what I am, you will become

4 Uccello, Battle of San Romano Commemorates the victory of the Florentines over Sienese in 1432 Dominated by a fascination for perspective Extremely high horizon line allows for wealth of action and detail Scale often appears random, however Toy horses, more ceremonial than terrifying Interest in metal patterns of the fallen men and lances, figures fall in bold foreshortening Vanishing points pull the eye into space Miraculously, the dead knights and their broken lances fall perfectly along the orthogonal lines leading to the vanishing 4 point

5 Botticelli, Birth of Venus Delicacy of line and surface ornament Sharply drawn figures, focus on contours Landscape flat and tapestry-like Stylized V shaped waves Little interest in perspective Venus rises from a seashell, far away look in her eyes Rose created at the same time as Venus, a symbol of love: it can be painful Bloodless, weightless, idealized nude Cf. Praxiteles, Aphrodite of Knidos Zephyr and his love, Chloris, rush in to scatter roses before her Handmaiden covers her 5

6 Castagno, Last Supper Christ is blessing, but Judas already has his food, not sacred to him Judas is diabolical, jutting beard, hooked nose, on other side of table Inconsistent geometric shape of room: ceiling panels 16 by 14, stringcourses 12 across back and 6 per side Ceiling circles are 33 ½ in the back (the age of Christ at his death) and 17 at the sides Six panels on the sides, but six in the back also Animated marble over Judas head and skeptical Peter s head reflects mood Rugged features of individuals Lit from windows on right Nearly every figure sits independently 6

7 Ghirlandaio, Birth of the Virgin Saint Anne reclines in a palace room decorated with a classically inspired frieze Midwives prepare for infant s bath Daughter of chapel s patron of the work prominently shown in golden dress at center Living people steal the show from the saints Clear spatial arrangements Large room divided by pilasters Upper left corner: meeting of Joachim and Anna 7

8 Perugino, Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter Figures lined up in a row Emphasis on clarity, bright colors Feeling of easy grace Contemporaries in the painting Shapely mantles Weight placed on one foot, hip noticeable Vast Renaissance plaza Arch of Constantine, dome of Florence Cathedral in background Catholic Church centered on Saint Peter: open space to highlight the key Middle Left: Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar s Middle Right: Stoning of Christ Located in the Sistine Chapel, the place where Popes are elected 8

9 Mantegna, Dead Christ Uncharacteristic use of almost grisaille in contrast to his usual bold coloring Emotionally charged Bold foreshortening Feet placed over the edge into our own space Head enlarged to see it better; feet reduced to see body better Wounds and dislocated shoulders of Christ prominently displayed 9

10 Mantegna, Room of the Newlyweds Oculus: eight winged putti and a peacock Women lean over balcony Foreshortening and perspective Walls: heavy curtain pulled back Antique decorative elements around main scenes Patrons are the Gonzagas, their colors red and white on their hosiery Realism of Gonzaga bodies: hump back, double chins, protruding foreheads and jaws, limp and spindly arms and legs Charming legend about the possible use by newlyweds on their first night: Cupids abound, with 10a peacock as a symbol of marital harmony

11 Piero, Brera Altarpiece Light, open, clear space Set within an actual Renaissance church interior Crystalline, almost bleaching light Roman architectural forms Classical, quiet and a still quality Deeply reverend patron Egg as the Renaissance symbol for a perfectly centralized harmonious and symmetrical space Mathematical proportion and balance Barrel vault, cf. Alberti s Sant Andrea Light comes in from left casting shadows on figures and vault Armor-clad patron seen in profile on his knees in front Pose requested by patron to hide disfigurement on the other side of his face: loss of right eye 11

12 Verrocchio, David Slenderness and angularity of the adolescent body Jutting left elbow, slightly cocky aspect Precise ornament Leather jerkin and skirt classical inspired, reveals rather than conceals the young hero s wiry anatomy Pensive and gentle in victory Lacks anatomical exaggeration 12

13 Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Ten Nudes Humans as wild beasts Dense vegetation Meant to teach students about anatomy, in all its possible variety Many figures are in reflected/flipped poses Composition of intertwined figures in superimposed registers to indicate depth Mass-produced works of art, spreading Pollaiuolo s fame to Northern Europe

14 Signorelli, Damned Cast into Hell Supreme representation of the nude in movement First large scale painted treatment of the nude in Renaissance art Heaven guarded by armored angels Multicolored demons carrying female souls a suggestion of sexual threat Demons with bat-like wings carry off the mortals Demons rip off ears and sink their teeth into victims Bizarre and lurid color of devils, some suggesting decaying flesh Impenetrable tangle of demons and victims Consuming desperation 14

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