Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600

By Anthony Blunt | Go to book overview

Chapter V MICHELANGELO

OUR sources of knowledge for Michelangelo's views on the Fine Arts are varied. Of his own writings, the letters contain almost nothing of interest from the point of view of theory, since they are nearly all personal or business notes to his family or his patrons. The poems, on the other hand, are of great importance, for though they contain few direct references to the arts, many of them are love poems from which it is possible to deduce in what terms Michelangelo conceived of beauty.

In addition to his own writings we have the evidence of three of his contemporaries. The first of these is the Portuguese painter Francisco de Hollanda, who came to Rome in 1538 and worked his way for a time into Michelangelo's circle. He was probably never very intimate with the latter, and his dialogues1 were almost certainly written to glorify himself and to show how closely he associated with the master. But however great his conceit may have been, his evidence is of importance, since it deals with a period of Michelangelo's life on which we are not otherwise well informed by his biographers.2

The second contemporary source is the biography of Michelangelo in Vasari's Lives. It was first published in 1550, but was greatly enlarged and almost entirely rewritten for the second edition of 1568. It contains less material than might be expected, but it gives some account of his methods of working and records some of his opinions.

____________________
1
Published in 1548 under the title, Tractato de Pintura Antigua.
2
Hollanda's reliability has often and justifiably been challenged, e.g. by Tietze (cf. "Francisco de Hollanda und Donato Giannottis Dialoge und Michelangelo", Rep. für Kunstwissenschaft., 1905, xxviii, p. 295) and, more violently, by C. Aru (cf. "I Dialoghi Romani di Francisco de Hollanda", L'Arte, 1928, xxxi, p. 117).

-58-

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Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • ARTISTIC THEORY IN ITALY 1450-1600 *
  • Title Page i
  • PREFACE TO SECOND IMPRESSION iii
  • PREFACE TO THE FOURTH IMPRESSION iii
  • PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Plates viii
  • Chapter I Alberti 1
  • Chapter II Leonardo 23
  • Chapter III Colonna: Filarete 39
  • Chapter IV the Social Position of the Artist 48
  • Chapter V Michelangelo 58
  • Chapter VI the Minor Writers of the High Renaissance 82
  • Chapter VII Vasari 86
  • Chapter VIII the Council of Trent and Religious Art 103
  • Chapter IX the Later Mannerists 137
  • Bibliography 160
  • Index 167
  • THE OXFORD AUTHORS 172
  • HISTORY IN OXFORD PAPERBACKS TUDOR ENGLAND 173
  • OXFORD REFERENCE THE CONCISE OXFORD COMPANION TO ENGLISH LITERATURE 174
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