Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Riegl locates the Renaissance

Fra Carnevale
Ideal City
ca. 1480
oil and tempera on panel
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Girolamo da Cremona
Triumphs of Petrarch
ca. 1500
oil on panel
Denver Art Museum

circle of Francesco Granacci
Scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist
ca. 1505
oil on panel
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

"Renaissance. The quattrocento and beginning of the cinquecento. Now that the gates were opened, the flood could no longer be contained.  Observation of nature expanded, errors were discerned, and the danger of the polytheistic kernel lingering deep within Christian doctrine manifested itself among those people who had passed through classical polytheism.  Inclined to grant excessive autonomy to natural phenomena, people began to ignore the God behind them.  Although they veered toward a natural-scientific manner of observation, they did not attain the conception of a higher, overarching principle, because they understood individual natural phenomena as overly autonomous; at the same time, they began to lose faith in the Christian notion of God.  Moreover, the dogmatic presentation of  the Christian worldview had made many claims that close observation of nature proved untrue.  Hence widespread atheism.  What was art to do?  It grasped the material world as autonomous; it perfected it and made it beautiful.  Hence the rise of the cult of beauty, which predominated even in the papal court."

 from Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts, a course of lectures delivered by Aloïs Riegl in 1899 at the University of Vienna, translated by Jaqueline E. Jung and published in English by Zone Books in 2004

Adoration of the Kings
oil on panel
National Gallery, London

Sleeping Venus
ca. 1508-10
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Lorenzo Costa
ca. 1515-18
oil on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Young Woman (Laura)
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jan van Eyck
Portrait of a man holding a ring
ca. 1430
oil on panel
Brukenthal National Museum, Romania

Antonio del Pollaiuolo
Portrait of a woman
ca. 1465
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Raffaellino del Garbo
Bust-portrait of a young woman
ca. 1483-92
tempera on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Jean Fouquet
Portrait of Etienne Chevalier with St Stephen
(left-hand side of Melun Diptych)
ca. 1452-58
oil on panel
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
Lorenzo Lotto
Allegory of Virtue and Vice
oil on panel
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Moses undergoing trial by fire
oil on panel
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Cosmè Tura
The Muse Terpsichore
ca. 1450-60
oil on panel
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan