Leonardo
da Vinci

1452 - 1519

 
 
     
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     Leonardo da Vinci - biography
 
   
     Leonardo da Vinci
 
   
     CONTENTS:
 
   
     1452-1481 Leonardo in the Florence of the Medici    
     1482-1499 At the court of Ludovico il Moro    
     1500-1508 The return to Florence    
     1508-1513 The Milan of Charles d'Amboise    
     1513-1519 The last years: Rome and France    
         
 
 

                  

 


Leonardo da Vinci
Self-Portrait
c. 1512

   

     



1500-1508


The return to Florence
               

 

 

 


The first Mannerists
 

 




 

 

The background of political change in 15th-century Florence - the attempted theocracy of Savonarola, the restoration and successive downfall of the Medici, and the institution of the duchy - found echoes in the field of formal art. In place of naturalism, which had been the norm for preceding generations, there was now a move to imitate the masters of the "modern manner", Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo, described by Vasari as protagonists of the "third age". Both in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, the art of Florence remained paramount, although it would soon concede primacy to the Rome of Leo X and Clement VII. Del Sarto, Rosso, and Pontormo, active almost exclusively in Tuscany, were the first to signal the historical transformation that was occurring, evident in the anti-classical taste for chromatic abstraction, in compositional diversity, and formality of pose. Yet for all their individualism, the three painters did not make any radical break with the universal principles to which they subscribed.

 


Andrea del Sarto, Madonna and Child and the Young StJohn,
c.1505-10, Galleria Borghese, Rome.
Del Sarto, who drew from Leonardo the softness of his modelling,
the mobile effects of light, and certain compositional elements,
opened the way to the more experimental phase of Florentine
Mannerism; among his pupils were Rosso and Pontormo.

               


 

Jacopo Pontormo, St Jerome, c.1525-30,
Niedersachsisches Landesmuseum, Hanover.
Derived from the Leonardo version, this St Jerome is
enveloped in space that lacks any perspective definition.
The spatial isolation and the inwardly turned figure give
psychological depth to the scene.

         


Raphael, Madonna of the Baldaquin,
1507-08,
Galleria Palatina, Florence.
This was a fundamental reference point for the painters
of this generation.


Franciabigio, Madonna and Child and the Young StJohn
(Madonna of the Well)
,
c.1525-30, Callena degli Uffizi, Florence.
A fresco painter alongside Andrea del Sarto and a talented portraitist,
Franciabigio was often inspired by Raphaelesque models.

                    


Giovan Francesco Rustic, St John the Baptist Teaching,
front of the Baptistery, Florence, in place since 1511.
A sculptor and painter in Verrocchio's circle,
Rustici completed the bronze group under the supervision of Leonardo,
with whom he shared a home for a time.

 
      
     

         

 

Eccentrics and Italianized Spaniards

 

The atmosphere of dissent and opposition that had produced Pontormo and II Rosso also nurtured a series of strange, restless personalities, rebels by nature, whose art helped to hasten the decline of classicism. Filippino Lippi, son of Filippo and the nun Lucrezia Buti, was, like Piero di Cosimo, still wedded to 15th-century culture, but anticipated the mentality peculiar to Mannerism. A pupil of Rosselli, Piero di Cosimo was an eccentric genius who admired the naturalism of Leonardo and the Northern masters, and recoiled from idealization, even in classical scenes. During the first decades of the 16th century a number of Spanish painters visited Florence: these included Alonso Berruguete, early in his career, who on his return to Spain emerged as the most notable painter prior to El Greco; and Fernando Yanez and Fernando de Llanos, documented as collaborators with Leonardo on the Battle of Anghiari, who mixed typical Spanish austerity with a taste for perspective and Italianate structural novelty. Both artists continued their artistic association on returning home to Spain.

 


Fernando de Llanos, Rest on the Flight into Egypt,
1507-10, Valencia Cathedral.
A methodical, diligent painter, though less creative than his contemporary Yanez,
with whom he was in Florence in the summer of 1505,
Llanos painted the Stories of the Virgin on his return to Spain,
for the retable of the high altar of Valencia Cathedral.

                      


Piero di Cosimo, The Conception of Mary, after 1505,
detail, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Rarely seen in official circles, unconnected with the Medici environment, and frequently engaged with private commissions, Piero, a pupil of Cosimo Rosselli, responded to the influence of Leonardo, Fra Bartolomeo, and the young Raphael during the last phase of his career.


Fernando Yanez de la Almedina, St Catherine,
Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Yanez showed a mature assimilation of Italian motifs in the balanced monumentality of his compositions, in his confident handling of masses,
and in the eloquent features of his characters, often markedly Leonardesque.
In Florence he also collaborated with Pecori and the Soggi.

         
                     


Filippino Lippi, St Philip Expels the Demons, 1502,
Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.
A testament to the end-of-the-century anti-classical orientation,
Filippino provides elements derived from pagan Rome in a dramatic and complex work that
transforms the Gothic character of the chapel.

 

 

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