Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 

CHAPTER TWO
 

THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY


SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

ARCHITECTURE - Part 1, Part 2

PAINTING - Part 1

ARCHITECTURE - Part 1

SCULPTURE - 1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

PAINTING - Part 1
 
 


CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ITALY: 1450-1500

 


Sculpture


POLLAIUOLO.

By
1450 the great civic campaign of art patronage came to an end, and Florentine artists had to depend mainly on private commissions. This put the sculptors at a disadvantage because of the high costs involved in their work. Since the monumental tasks were few, they concentrated on works of moderate size and price for individual patrons, such as bronze statuettes. The collecting of sculpture, widely practiced in ancient times, had ceased during the Middle Ages. The taste of those who could afford to collect for personal pleasurekings and feudal lordsran to gems, jewelry, goldsmith's work, illuminated manuscripts, and precious fabrics. The habit was reestablished in fifteenth-century Italy as part of the "revival of antiquity." Humanists and artists first collected ancient sculpture, especially small bronzes (such as fig. 219), which were numerous and of convenient size. Before long, contemporary artists began to cater to the spreading vogue, with portrait busts and small bronzes of their own "in the manner of the ancients."

A particularly fine piece of this kind is Hercules and Antaeus (fig. 618) by Antonio del Pollaiuolo (1431-1498), who represents a sculptural style very different from that of the marble carvers we discussed above. Trained as a goldsmith and metalworker, probably in the Ghiberti workshop, he was deeply impressed by the late styles of Donatello and Castagno, as well as by ancient art. From these sources, he evolved the distinctive manner that appears in our statuette. To create a free-standing group of two figures in violent struggle, even on a small scale, was a daring idea in itself. Even more astonishing is the way Pollaiuolo has endowed his composition with a centrifugal impulse. Limbs seem to radiate in every direction from a common center, and we see the full complexity of their movements only when we examine the statuette from all sides. Despite its strenuous action, the group is in perfect balance. To stress the central axis, Pollaiuolo in effect grafted the upper part of Antaeus onto the lower part of his adversary.

There is no precedent for this design among earlier statuary groups of any size, ancient or Renaissance. The artist has simply given a third dimension to a composition from the field of drawing or painting. He himself was a painter and engraver as well as a bronze sculptor, and we know that about
1465 he did a large picture of Hercules and Antaeus, now lost, for the Medici, who also owned our statuette.



618. Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Hercules and Antaeus. . 1475. Bronze, height 18" (45.8 cm, with base). Museo Nazionale del Bareello, Florence



Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Hercules. 1470s. Bronze, height 44 cm. Frick Collection, New York
 

Few of his paintings have survived, and only a single engraving, the battle of the Ten Naked Men (fig. 619). This print, however, is of great importance, since it represents Pollaiuolo's most elaborate pictorial design. Its subject, undoubtedly a classical one, has not yet been convincingly identified, but that matter is not so significant. The primary purpose of the engraving obviously was to display Pollaiuolo's mastery of the nude body in action. About 1465-70, when the print must have been produced, this was still a novel problem, and Pollaiuolo contributed more than any other master to its solution. An interest in movement, coupled with slender proportions and an emphasis on outline rather than on modeling, had been seen in Castagno's David (fig. 604), which in these respects is clearly the progenitor of the Ten Naked Men. Pollaiuolo also drew upon the action poses he found in certain types of Greek vases (compare fig. 202). But he realized that a full understanding of bodily movement demands a detailed knowledge of anatomy, down to the last muscle and sinew. These ten naked men, in fact, have an oddly "flayed" appearance, as if their skin had been stripped off to reveal the play of muscles underneath, and so, to a somewhat lesser degree, do the two figures of our statuette. Equally novel are their facial expressions, as strained as the bodily movements. We have already encountered contorted features in the work of Donatello and Masaccio (see figs. 573, 579, and 595). But the anguish they convey is inner and does not arise from or accompany the extreme physical action of Pollaiuolo's struggling nudes.



619. Antonio del Pollaiuolo Battle of the Ten Naked Men. . 146570. Engraving, 38.3 x 59 cm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.





Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Monument of Sixtus IV. 1484-93. Bronze, length 445 cm. Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican




Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Monument of Sixtus IV. 1484-93. Bronze, length 445 cm. Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican




Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Monument of Sixtus IV,
(detail). Perspective




Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Monument of Sixtus IV,
(detail). Philosophy




Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Tomb of Pope Innocent VIII. 1492-98. Gilded bronze, height: 549 cm. Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican




Antonio del Pollaiuolo.
Tomb of Pope Innocent VIII (detail)

 
 

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