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For almost twenty years, new historicism has been a highly
controversial and influential force in literary and cultural
studies. In "Practicing the New Historicism, " two of its most
distinguished practitioners reflect on its surprisingly disparate
sources and far-reaching effects.
Leo Steinberg was one of the most original and daring art historians of the twentieth century, known for taking interpretative risks that challenged the profession by overturning reigning orthodoxies. In essays and lectures that ranged from old masters to contemporary art, he combined scholarly erudition with an eloquent prose that illuminated his subject and a credo that privileged the visual evidence of the image over the literature written about it. His works, sometimes provocative and controversial, remain vital and influential reading. For half a century, Steinberg delved into Michelangelo's work, revealing the symbolic structures underlying the artist's highly charged idiom. This volume of essays and unpublished lectures explicates many of Michelangelo's most celebrated sculptures, applying principles gleaned from long, hard looking. Almost everything Steinberg wrote included passages of old-fashioned formal analysis, but here put to the service of interpretation. He understood that Michelangelo's rendering of figures as well as their gestures and interrelations conveys an emblematic significance masquerading under the guise of naturalism. Michelangelo pushed Renaissance naturalism into the furthest reaches of metaphor, using the language of the body and its actions to express fundamental Christian tenets once expressible only by poets and preachers--or, as Steinberg put it, in Michelangelo's art, "anatomy becomes theology." Michelangelo's Sculpture is the first in a series of volumes of Steinberg's selected writings and unpublished lectures, edited by his longtime associate Sheila Schwartz. The volume also includes a book review debunking psychoanalytic interpretation of the master's work, a lighthearted look at Michelangelo and the medical profession and, finally, the shortest piece Steinberg ever published.
A deft reinterpretation of the most zealously interpreted picture in the Western canon as a therapeutic artifact. Albrecht Durer's famous portrayal of creative effort in paralysis, the unsurpassed masterpiece of copperplate engraving titled Melencolia I, has stood for centuries as a pictorial summa of knowledge about the melancholic temperament, a dense allegory of the limits of earthbound arts and sciences and the impossibility of attaining perfection. Dubbed the "image of images" for being the most zealously interpreted picture in the Western canon, Melencolia I also presides over the origins of modern iconology, art history's own science of meaning. Yet we are left with a clutter of mutually contradictory theories, a historiographic ruin that confirms the mood of its object. In Perfection's Therapy, Mitchell Merback reopens the case file and argues for a hidden intentionality in Melencolia's opacity, its structural "chaos," and its resistance to allegorical closure. That intentionality, he argues, points toward a fascinating possibility never before considered: that Durer's masterpiece is not only an arresting diagnosis of melancholic distress, but an innovative instrument for its undoing. Merback deftly resituates Durer's image within the long history of the therapeutic artifact. Placing Durer's therapeutic project in dialogue with that of humanism's founder, Francesco Petrarch, Merback also unearths Durer's ambition to act as a physician of the soul. Celebrated as the "Apelles of the black line" in his own day, and ever since as Germany's first Renaissance painter-theorist, the Durer we encounter here is also the first modern Christian artist, addressing himself to the distress of souls, including his own. Melencolia thus emerges as a key reference point in a venture of spiritual-ethical therapy, a work designed to exercise the mind, restore the body's equilibrium, and help in getting on with the undertaking of perfection.
This volume represents a unique opportunity to admire and understand, from a comprehensive perspective, Leonardo's extraordinary complexity as an artist, painter and sketcher, and, in part, his work as a scientist and technologist. This alluring volume is meant to illustrate, through twelve sections, some central themes in Leonardo's entire artistic and scientific career, underlining some constants in his vision as an artist and a scientist, as well as his interdisciplinary vocation and continuous intermingling of interests. The catalog gathers oeuvres signed by Leonardo-paintings, drawings and manuscripts-introduced by works from his predecessors-painters, sculptors, technicians, theorists-which can contextualize Leonardo's contribution to the history of art, science and technology while offering, at the same time, a vision of Leonardo the artist and scientist of his age, without giving in to myth-making and banality. Two final sections show the influence of Leonardo the painter and art theorist on the modern era and the creation of his legend, centered on Mona Lisa. The volume also includes masterpiece paintings by Leonardo, some of his original codes, and over one hundred signed drawings, as well as a considerable number of artworks, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures, and codes from major museums and libraries around the world and from private collections, with works by Antonello da Messina, Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Paolo Uccello, Ghirlandaio, Verrocchio, Antonio and Piero del Pollaiolo, Jean van Eyck, Bramante, just to name a few.
Caravaggio, or more accurately Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), was always a name to be reckoned with. Notorious bad boy of Italian painting, the artist was at once celebrated and controversial: Violent in temper, precise in technique, a creative master, and a man on the run. This work offers a comprehensive reassessment of Caravaggio's entire uvre with a catalogue raisonne of his works. Each painting is reproduced in large format, with recent, high production photography allowing for dramatic close-ups with Caravaggio's ingenious details of looks and gestures. Five introductory chapters analyze Caravaggio's artistic career from his early struggle to make a living, through his first public commissions in Rome, and his growing celebrity status. They look at his increasing daring with lighting and with a boundary-breaking naturalism which allowed even biblical events to unfold with an unprecedented immediacy before the viewer.
Leonardo da Vinci was the original Renaissance Man, an artist, mathematician, inventor and writer amongst his many talents. His skilful observations of the mechanics of the body informed both his work, and the generations that followed. But his drawings are elegant too, with the gentle features of his female subjects in particular graced with unrivalled care and eloquence. Da Vinci's illustrations lie at the heart of our heritage and this new book offers a breadth and scale that will satisfy both the casual and informed reader.
Only 20 paintings and eight drawings are confidently assigned to Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) but in their fantastical visions they have secured his place as one of the most cult artists in history. 500 years on from his death, his works continue to inspire scholars, artists, designers, and musicians, death metal band names and designer dresses. This Bibliotheca Universalis edition offers the complete and haunting Bosch world in one compact format. Through full spreads and carefully curated details, we explore the full reach and compelling inventions of the artist's genius as well as disturbing imagination. We encounter his hybrid creatures, his nightmarish scenarios, his religious and moral framework, and his pictorial versions of contemporary proverbs and idioms. Along the way, art historian and Bosch expert Stefan Fischer reveals the most important themes and influences in these cryptic, mesmerizing masterpieces.
For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory-the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death-has long confounded historians. In a bravura performance, Andrew Graham-Dixon delves into the original Italian sources, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's sex life, his many crimes and public brawls, and the most convincing account yet published of the painter's tragic death at the age of thirty-eight. With illuminating readings of Caravaggio's infamous religious paintings, which often depict prostitutes and poor people, Graham-Dixon immerses readers in the world of Italy at the height of the Counter-Reformation and creates a masterful profile of the mercurial painter's life and work.
Leonardo da Vinci tells the story of this artist/engineer's life and times, and looks at the major themes that dominate his work. Beautifully illustrated with his artworks and designs, it also contains rare sketches and studies sourced from his own writings, as well as documents from archives such as the library of the Institut de France, including the record of Leonardo's birth made by his grandfather in 1452. Matthew Landrus's insightful narrative explains how da Vinci was more than a painter of extraordinary skill. In fact, he was often thought of principally as a civil and military engineer. This compelling biography paints a vivid portrait of the most gifted of men, 500 years after his death.
During the Tudor Age the South West was famed for the innovation and endeavor of its people. Devon sea dogs Drake, Raleigh and Hawkins sailed to `World's End' in their pursuit of treasure and glory, Exeter's Nicholas Hilliard produced exquisite miniature portraits of courtiers while fellow Exonian Thomas Bodley re-founded Oxford University's library, later named the Bodleian in his honor. These men lived during the religious turmoil and political intrigue of Elizabeth I's reign- a time of opportunity for the merchants and traders of Devon. Many grew rich on the fruits of overseas trade and expressed their new status through fashionable houses, fine furnishings, decoration and valuable personal possessions. The demand for goods was met by a network of local craft workers: plasterers, masons, carpenters, lace-makers and goldsmiths. Aspects of their lives are revealed in this book, published to accompany the fascinating exhibition at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, which will draw together paintings, artifacts and documents from galleries, museums and record offices to tell the story of the South West and its people set against the backdrop of one of the most,evocative periods in British history.
Polidoro da Caravaggio (c. 1500-1543), one of Raphael's most influential and distinctive followers, has not been well treated by time. His significant early frescoes, which graced exterior palace facades in Rome, have perished almost without exception. A rare few are preserved but most are known only in copies. Consequently, the originality of Polidoro's public work has been little explored, despite his once famous reputation and the association of his name with Raphael and Michelangelo. His move to Sicily later in life, a region with few surviving primary sources, further complicates the study of his work. Extant pieces by the artist from this period are unusually severe in content and technique, and their attribution has often been controversial. In this first account in English, Polidoro's radical Sicilian paintings are considered through the lens of the religious life of the era and in relation to his early secular work. This much-needed investigation establishes Polidoro's proper place in the canon of art history.
Botticelli: Heroines and Heroes explores the work of the legendary Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, focusing on a genre called spalliera that Botticelli employed with staggering originality. The catalgoue and exhibition, held at the Gardner Museum, Boston, include significant loans from European and American public collections. Accompanying the exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (14 February - 19 May 2019), this catalogue explores the work of legendary Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli (about 1444-1510). Today the alluring and enigmatic Primavera forms the cornerstone of his modern fame, but its familiarity belies distant origins in the heady intellectual environment of Laurentian Florence and the residences of its moneyed elite. Part of a genre called spalliera, so named for their installation around shoulder (spalla) height, this type of painting introduced beautiful, strange, and disturbing images into lavish Florentine homes. With staggering originality, Botticelli reinvented ancient subjects for the domestic interior, paneling patrician bedrooms with moralizing tales and offering erudite instruction to their influential inhabitants. At the center of this exhibition is a spalliera reunited, the Gardner's Tragedy of Lucretia and its companion The Tragedy of Virginia (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo). Together with extraordinary loans of the same genre from European and American public collections, Heroines and Heroes explores Botticelli's revolutionary approach to antiquity - from ancient Roman to early Christian - and offers a new perspective on his late career masterpieces. Catalogue essays address Botticelli's spalliera (Nathaniel Silver), their violence (Scott Nethersole), his textual sources (Elsa Filosa), and rediscovery in Gilded Age Boston (Patricia Lee Rubin). Entries include new insights for each work and up-to-date bibliographies, while a special section features archival materials devoted to Gardner's pioneering acquisition of the first Botticelli in America.
For nearly four decades in the 16th century, the careers of Venice's three greatest painters - Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese - overlapped, producing mutual influences and bitter rivalries that changed the course of art history. Venice was then among Europe's richest cities, and its plentiful commissions fostered an exceptionally fertile and innovative climate. In this climate, the three artists - brilliant, ambitious and fiercely competitive - vied with each other for primacy, deploying such new media as oil on canvas, with its unique expressive possibilities, and such new approaches as a personal and identifiable 'signature style'. They also pioneered the use of easel painting, a newly portable format that led to unprecedented fame in their lifetimes. With over 150 stunning examples by the three masters and their contemporaries, "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese" elucidates the technical and aesthetic innovations that helped define the uniquely rich 'Venetian style', as well as the social, political and economic context in which it flourished. The essays range from examinations of seminal new techniques to such crucial institutions as state commissions and the patronage system. Most of all, by concentrating on the lives and careers of Venice's three greatest painters, the volume paints an equally vibrant human portrait - one brimming with savage rivalry, one-upmanship, humour and passion.
Leonardo's fame is bound up in great works whose background is obscure. There is the Mona Lisa, for which we do not know the exact year of commencement, The Last Supper, whose state of conservation has always given rise to particular concern, and the Battle of Anghiari, whose renown goes well beyond the actual existence of the work, for which researchers are still hunting today. It is this ongoing research that motivated the publication of our volume, which aims to record the known facts about the Battle of Anghiari. The vanished work is so famous as to be known to academics and the general public alike, despite - still - being considered as lost. Here we have a case of fame without equal and which appears even more evident if we consider that Leonardo's painting remained visible for just over fifty years, while his preparatory sketch was available to artists for almost two centuries. The destiny of the Battle of Anghiari was already clear to Paolo Giovio writing in the 1530s: "our sorrow for the unforeseen damage seems only to have wondrously increased the fascination of the unfinished work." Based on descriptions and eyewitness accounts, this study will present a variety of documents, such as literary sources that describe the painting and figurative evidence, such as Leonardo's own preparatory drawings or copies by later artists. Nor should we fail to consider manuscript sources relating to the commissioning and execution of the first part of the work, often traceable through payments registered in archive sources. Equally essential is an overview of the historical context in which the Battle of Anghiari was painted and of the significance of this event. English Language Edition.
This beautiful book gathers together Michelangelo's work, both the famous and the lesser known, to create a vivid portrait of the artist's life and career. Visually spectacular, it features more than 150 illustrations of his artworks, including the Pieta, David, Moses and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. William E. Wallace's insightful narrative describes a career that spanned the glories of the Italian Renaissance to the first stirrings of the counter-reformation. It is enhanced with rare documents from Michelangelo's personal papers, such as contracts for his works and his plans for the Sistine Chapel.
A beautiful book that argues artists were fascinated by still life painting considerably earlier than previously thought This eloquent and generously illustrated book asserts that artists were fascinated by and extremely skilled at still life significantly earlier than previously thought. Instead of the genre beginning in the early 17th century, noted scholar David Ekserdjian explores its origins in classical antiquity and the gradual re-emergence of still life in Renaissance painting. The author presents a visual anthology of finely executed flowers, fruit, food, household objects, and furnishings seen in the background of paintings. Paintings are reproduced in full and paired with detailed close-ups of still-life elements within the work. Ekserdjian further examines both the artistic and symbolic significance of a chosen detail, as well as information about each artist's career. Featured works include radiant paintings from Renaissance greats such as Da Vinci, Durer, Holbein, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Van Eyck, as well as the work of less-celebrated masters Barthelemy d'Eyck and Ortolano.
Annibale Carracci was the great genius of early Baroque painting in Italy, blighted by melancholia at the end of his life but full of promise and invention in his prime. This book concentrates on one of his most ambitious early works, the Venus, Adonis and Cupid in the Prado Museum, Madrid. This is the English edition of a publication by the Prado specially dedicated to this painting, which has recently been cleaned and restored and is being displayed beside works by Veronese and Titian on the same subject with which Annibale was consciously competing. The subject, which is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, was regarded in the Renaissance period as offering the greatest possible scope for a painter's brush - a male and a female nude, strong emotion, pathos, heroism - and, since Adonis was a hunter, dogs as well. The Venus and Adonis, despite its importance in Annibale's oeuvre and its monumental size, has been comparatively little studied. This book reveals important new information about Annibale Carracci, technically, creatively, stylistically. The book is superbly produced and illustrated (in five-colour process) and is part of a series of Prado publications devoted to individual masterpieces in the Museum.
With the patronage of the powerful Medici family, a canon of secular and religious work, and contributions to the celebrated Sistine Chapel, Sandro Botticelli (1444/45-1510) was well placed for fame. After his death, however, his work was eclipsed for some four hundred years. It wasn't until the 19th century that the painter began to gain major art-historical recognition. Today, Botticelli is hailed as a towering figure of the Florentine Early Renaissance. His secular works The Birth of Venus and Primavera, mostly read as an allegory of Spring, are among the most recognized paintings in the world, resplendent in their delicate details, graceful lines, and compositional balance. His arrangements are fluid yet poised, his figures serene yet sensual. Venus, in particular, is held up as art-historical icon of beauty: pale-skinned, delicately featured, soft with fecund promise. This essential introduction presents key works from Botticelli's oeuvre to understand the making of a Renaissance legend. Through the painter's most famous mythological and allegorical scenes, as well as his radiant religious works, we explore a mastery of figuration, movement, and line, which has gone on to inspire artists from Edgar Degas to Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte to Cindy Sherman.
This book tells the remarkable story of Palazzo Rucellai from behind its celebrated facade. The house, beginning with its piecemeal assemblage by one of the richest men in Florence in the fifteenth century, has witnessed endless drama, from the butchering of its interior to a courtyard suicide to champagne-fueled orgies on the eve of World War I to a recent murder on its third floor. When the author, an art historian, serendipitously discovers a room for let in the house, she lands in the vortex of history and is tested at every turn-inside the house and out. Her residency in Palazzo Rucellai is informed as much by the sense of desire giving way to disappointment as by a sense of denial that soon enough must succumb to truth. House of Secrets is about the sharing of space, the tracing of footsteps, the overlapping of lives. It is about the willingness to lose oneself behind the facade, to live between past and present, to slip between the cracks of history and the crevices of our own imagination.
Filling notebook after notebook with sketches, inventions, and theories, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) not only stands as one of the most exceptional draftsmen of art history, but also as a mastermind and innovator who anticipated some of the greatest discoveries of human progress, sometimes centuries before their material realization. From the smallest arteries in the human heart to the far-flung constellations of the universe, Leonardo saw nature and science as being unequivocally connected. His points of inquiry and invention spanned philosophy, anatomy, geology, and mathematics, from the laws of optics, gravitation, heat, and light to the building of a flying machine. In his painting, Leonardo steered art out of the Middle Ages with works such as The Last Supper and the world-famous La Gioconda or Mona Lisa depicting not only physical appearances, but a compelling psychological intrigue and depth which continues to draw crowds of mesmerized visitors to masterpieces in Paris, Milan, Washington, London, and Rome. This book brings together some of Leonardo's most outstanding work to introduce a figure of infinite curiosity, feverish imagination, and sublime artistic ability, often described as having "not enough worlds for to conquer, and not enough lives for to live" (Alan Woods).
The Book of Miracles first surfaced only a few years ago and is one of the most spectacular discoveries in the field of Renaissance art. The near-complete illustrated manuscript, created in Augsburg around 1550, is composed of 169 pages of large-format illustrations in gouache and watercolor, depicting wondrous and often eerie phenomena. The mesmerizing images deal with both biblical and folkloric tales, depicting stories from the Old Testament and Book of Revelation as well as events that took place in the immediate present of the manuscript's author. From shooting stars to swarms of locusts, terrifying monsters to fatal floods, page after page hypnotizes with visions alternately dreadful, spectacular, and even apocalyptic. This volume presents the revelatory Book of Miracles in a new, compact format, making this extraordinary document accessible to everyone. It comes with a translation of the manuscript texts and two essays that give an introduction to the cultural and historical context of this unique Renaissance work.
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