.. Giovanni, Bellini...


:: Bellini, Giovanni...

BELLINI, Giovanni
(b. ca. 1426, Venezia, d. 1516, Venezia)

Venetian painter, founder of the Venetian school of painting, Giovanni Bellini raised Venice to a center of Renaissance art that rivaled Florence and Rome. He brought to painting a new degree of realism, a new wealth of subject-matter, and a new sensuousness in form and color.
Giovanni Bellini was born in Venice, Italy. Little is known about his family. His father,
Jacopo, a painter, was a pupil of one of the leading 15th-century Gothic revival artists. Giovanni and his brother Gentile probably began their careers as assistants in their father's workshop.
In his early pictures, Bellini worked with tempera, combining a severe and rigid style with a depth of religious feeling and gentle humanity. His first phase as an artist was strongly influenced by his formidable brother-in-law, the Paduan painter
Andrea Mantegna, from whom he took a sculpturesque figure style; a sense for the potential eloquence of contour line; and occasional compositional ideas, as in the early Agony in the Garden (1460s, National Gallery, London), which was the first of a series of Venetian landscape scenes that continued to develop for the next century. Four triptychs in the Venice Accademia and two Pietàs, both in Milan, are all from this early period. Bellini's St. Vincent Ferrer altarpiece, which is still in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, was painted in the mid-1470s.
The personal components of Bellini's style, which became fundamental to the character of Venetian Renaissance painting as a whole, found expanded scope and an altered form in his painting of the 1470s. Flemish painting and, in 1475,
Antonello da Messina's paintings, showed Bellini the possibilities of the oil medium, which he used from then on in place of tempera. His color took on added depth, and he explored the interactions of color, light, air, and substance still more fully. As a result, the distinction between solids and space became less clear; air began to mediate between them; contour lines gradually disappeared, to be replaced by transitions of light and shadow. Saint Francis (1480?, Frick Collection, New York City) represents an early stage in this process. The process is well advanced in two dated pictures of the 1480s: Madonna of the Trees (1487, Accademia, Venice) and Madonna with Saints (1488, Church of the Frari, Venice).
In 1479 Bellini took his brother's place in continuing the painting of great historical scenes in the Hall of the Great Council in Venice. During that year and the next he devoted his time and energy to this project, painting six or seven new canvases. These, his greatest works, were destroyed by fire in 1577.
The Saint Francis also represents an important innovation of Bellini's in these years—paintings in which mood and meaning are conveyed at least as much by landscape as by figures. In the landscapes themselves, he combined a Flemish-inspired minuteness of brilliantly rendered detail with an Italian grasp of general principles as no previous artist had done. Equally significant in setting precedents was a series of monumental altarpieces portraying the Madonna enthroned among saints. In these, figures, space, light, architecture, and sometimes landscape were balanced with seemingly effortless perfection to achieve a complex but harmonious image of serene grandeur. Such paintings as, for example,
Madonna with Doge Agostino Barbarigo (1488, Santa Pietro Martire, Murano), are pioneer exemplars of the High Renaissance style.
The latest of the series,
Madonna with Saints (1505, San Zaccaria, Venice), typifies Bellini's late style. Complex modulations of color establish a mellow overall tone within which the figures, their surroundings, light, and air seem inseparable—merely different aspects of a single identity. Forms are ample but less dense than before; paint is delicately applied to give their edges and surfaces a hazy indistinctness. The Feast of the Gods (1514, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.), the landscape of which was devised by Titian, shows Bellini, still flexible and inventive in his 80s, turning to classical and pagan subject matter shortly before his death in 1516 in Venice.
At the end of his career Bellini became one of the greatest landscape painters. His ability to portray outdoor light was so skillful that the viewer can tell not only the season of the year but also almost the hour of the day. Bellini lived to see his own school of painting achieve dominance and acclaim. His influence carried over to his pupils, two of whom became better known than he was:
Giorgione (1477?-1510) and Titian (1488?-1576). His younger contemporary, the German painter Albrecht Durer, wrote of Bellini in 1506: "He is very old, and still he is the best painter of them all." Bellini died in Venice in 1516.
Bellini's historical importance is immense. In his 65-year evolution as an artist, he brought Venetian painting from provincial backwardness into the forefront of Renaissance and the mainstream of Western art. Moreover, his personal orientations predetermined the special nature of Venice's contribution to that mainstream. These include his luminous colorism, his deep response to the natural world, and his warm humanity.
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:: Baldung Grien, Hans ...

(b. 1484/85, Schwäbisch-Gmünd, d. 1545, Strasbourg)

German painter and graphic artist. He probably trained with
Dürer in Nuremberg, but his brilliant color, expressive use of distortion, and taste for the gruesome bring him closer in spirit to his other great German contemporary, Grünewald.
His output was varied and extensive, including
religious works, allegories and mythologies, portraits, designs for stained glass and tapestries, and a large body of graphic work, particularly book illustrations. He was active mainly in Strasburg, but from 1512 to 1517 he lived in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, where he worked on his masterpiece, the high altar for Freiburg Cathedral, the centre panel of which is a radiant Coronation of the Virgin. He is noted for representations of the Virgin Mary, in which he combined landscapes, figures, light, and colour with an almost magical serenity. His portrayals of age, on the other hand, have a sinister character and a mannered virtuosity. His most characteristic paintings, however, are fairly small in scale - erotic allegories such as Death and the Maiden, a subject he treated several times. Eroticism is often strongly present in his woodcuts, the best known of which is The Bewitched Stable Boy (1544), which has been interpreted as an allegory of lust.

:: Andrea Del Sarto...

(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1530, Firenze)

Florentine painter. The epithet 'del sarto' (of the tailor) is derived from his father's profession; his real name was Andrea d'Agnolo di Francesco. After an apprenticeship under
Piero di Cosimo he soon absorbed the poised and graceful style developed by Fra Bartolommeo and Raphael in Florence during the first decade of the 16th century, and following the departures of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo (all of whom had left Florence by 1509) he became established with Bartolommeo as the leading painter of the city. Apart from a visit to Fontainebleau in 1518-19 to work for Francis I, Andrea was based in Florence all his life, although he probably visited Rome soon after his return from France, and made short visits elsewhere.
He excelled as a fresco decorator (there are outstanding examples in Florence in
SS. Annunziata and the Chiostro dello Scalzo), and he also painted superb altarpieces (The Madonna of the Harpies, Uffizi, Florence, 1517) and portraits (A Young Man, National Gallery, London).
Andrea executed fresco decorations for the Servites, a religious order, in their Church of the Santissima Annunziata at Florence. By 1510 he completed five scenes depicting events in the life of S. Filippo Benizzi, a 13th-century leader of the Servite order. Many commissions followed, including the grisailles (monochromatic frescoes painted in shades of gray) of Saint John the Baptist in the cloister of the Scalzo in Florence.
In 1518 he was summoned to the court of Francis I of France, who entrusted him with money to purchase works of art in Italy. He returned to Florence in 1519 and remained there, using the money for his own purposes. In Florence, Andrea continued his work on the fresco series in the cloister of the Scalzo, which he completed in 1526. In 1525 he painted the
Madonna del Sacco, which is generally considered his masterpiece, in the cloister of Santissima Annunziata. He executed his last major work in fresco, the Last Supper (1527) in the refectory of the convent of San Salvi near Florence. Among his other noted works are the Pietà (1524, Pitti Palace) and The Assumption (1530, Pitti Palace).
Andrea's reputation was largely made and marred by
Vasari, who said that Andrea's works were 'faultless' but represented him as a weakling completely under the thumb of his wicked wife. In Robert Browning's poem on the painter (1855) and in a psychoanalytic essay by Freud's disciple Ernest Jones (1913) attempts are made to link a supposed lack of vigour in his mellifluous art with these traits of character. This, however, is hardly just and a good deal of Vasari's account of Andrea's private life has been shown to be factually inaccurate (the scandalmongering is mainly in the 1550 edition of his book and was suppressed in the 1568 edition).
Andrea has suffered from being the contemporary of such giants as Michelangelo and Raphael, but he undoubtedly ranks as one of the greatest masters of his time. In grandeur and gracefulness he approaches Raphael, and he had a feeling for colour and atmosphere that was unrivalled among Florentine painters of his period. He also numbers among the finest draughtsmen of the Renaissance (the best collection of his
drawings is in the Uffizi). Certain features of his art foreshadow the Mannerist experiments of his great pupils Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. The many other artists who trained in his busy workshop include Salviati and Vasari.


:: Altdorfer, Albrecht...

(b. ca. 1480, Regensburg, d. 1538, Regensburg)

German painter and graphic artist working in Regensburg, of which town he was a citizen from 1505 onwards, the leading artist, the guiding spirit of the so-called
Danube School.
His training is unknown, but his early work was influenced by
Cranach and Dürer's art too was known to him through the woodcuts and engravings. Mingled with these German impresions was a knowledge of the art of Mantegna, perhaps through the mediation of Michael Pacher.
Yet in spite of these varied influences Altdorfer's style always remained personal. Most of his paintings are religious works, but he was one of the first artists to show an interest in landscape as an independent genre. He was the first European to paint forests, sunsets, and picturesque ruins, in which he represented
man as part of nature, allied with trees, rocks, mountains, and clouds and often resembling them. In works such as the altar for St Florian near Linz (1518) or the Christ Taking Leave of His Mother (National Gallery, London) he achieved a wonderful unity of mood between action and landscape, and two pure landscape paintings (without any figures) by him are known (National Gallery, London, and Alte Pinakothek, Munich). His patrons included the emperor Maximilian and Louis X, Duke of Bavaria, for whom he painted the celebrated Battle of Issos (Alte Pinakothek, Munich, 1529), which formed part of a large series of famous battle-pieces from Classical antiquity. With its dazzling light effects, teeming figures, and brilliant colours, it is one of the finest examples of Altdorfer's rich imaginative powers.
The fantastic element that pervaded his paintings was also prominent in his drawings, most of which were done with black and white lines on brown or blue-gray paper. His engravings and woodcuts, usually miniatures, were distinguished by their playful imaginativeness, the most important being 40 plates entitled The Fall and Redemption of Man. In 1530 he began using the new medium of etching to produce nine
landscapes and a series of fanciful tankards intended as work models for goldsmiths.
From 1526 until his death Altdorfer was employed as town architect of Regensburg. No architectural work by him is known, but his interest in architecture and his skill in handling intricate problems of perspective are demonstrated by his
Birth of the Virgin (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).

:: Albertinelli, Mariotto...

(b. 1474, Firenze, d. 1515, Firenze)

Florentine painter, trained by
Cosimo Rosselli, in whose studio he met Fra Bartolomeo. The two went into partnership in 1508, but soon after this Albertinelli temporarily abandoned painting to become an innkeeper, saying (according to Vasari) that he was fed up with criticism and wanted a 'less difficult and more cheerful craft'. Vasari also says he was a 'restless man, a follower of Venus, and a good liver.' His paintings are elegant but rather insipid. His best work is the Visitation (1503) in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.


:: Magnasco, Alessandro...

MAGNASCO, Alessandro
(b. 1667, Genova, d. 1749, Genova)

Italian painter, called Il Lissandrino. He was born and died in Genoa, but spent most of his working life in Milan. Son of a minor Genoese painter, Alessandro Magnasco trained in his home town before moving to Milan when he was still young. There he worked for many years in Filippo Abbiati's studio. His meeting with
Sebastiano Ricci marked a turning-point in his art. Their acquaintance was renewed during a stay in Florence (1703-09) at the court of Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany.
Soon afterwards, Magnasco gave up painting large figures (he only produced a handful of these in his later years) and instead concentrated on his unmistakable canvases with fantastic landscapes or interiors peopled with weird characters. At the start he stuck to windswept countryside and ruins with beggars. But during his second and longer stay in Milan (1709-35), he turned to the type of work for which he is now known - highly individual melodramatic scenes set in storm-tossed landscapes,
ruins, convents, and gloomy monasteries, peopled with small elongated figures of monks, nuns, gypsies, mercenaries, witches, beggars, and inquisitors. His brushwork is nervous and flickering and his lighting effects macabre.
His output was extremely well received in Milanese scholarly circles. He was very prolific and his work is rarely dated or datable. The critical jury is still out as to any deeper meaning of these canvases, which mingle the macabre with the burlesque, simple description with powerful melodrama.
Magnasco went back to Genoa in old age and it is there that we find his last, visionary and transfigured works. His art later influenced
Marco Ricci and Francesco Guardi.

Alessandro Magnasco Online