A Short History of Italian Painting

By Alice Van Vechten Brown; William Rankin | Go to book overview

EARLY NORTH ITALY1

COMPLETE independence was impossible for North Italian schools, set as they were on the high-road between Northern Europe and Central Italy and with Venice stretching into them on the east. Both ideas and forms were introduced from the Levant, from Northern Europe,2 from Florence, Siena, and the Marches, and in the Renaissance from Venice. Northern Italy is divided into certain more or less distinct regions.

The Veneto is the low alluvial region in the north-east between the lagoons of Venice and the foot-hills of the Alps; it is connected geographically and sometimes was politically with Venice. Its eastern portion is called Friuli.3 Its western portion includes the territories of Verona and Padua, at first independent, finally absorbed by Venice.

The great central plain of North Italy was divided between Milan and its dependencies on the north-west, and the fertile region adjoining the Veneto between the Po and the Apennines, called the Emilia,4 which included among others the great cities of Bologna and Ferrara.

Finally, there were Piedmont and Genoa on the west, affiliated with each other rather than with Milan, and connected with Northern Europe by both political and commercial relationships.

The conditions of North Italian art are more complex than in Central Italy. It is less centralised at a few points and less controlled by a dominant tradition. There is more exchange of

____________________
1
General guides are Ricci, N. Italy; B. B., N. Ital. Painters, whose authority we closely follow for the relations of the minor N. Ital. Renaiss. schools. Vent., VII, for early masters; Frizzoni, including numerous articles in periodicals, and the catalogues of the galleries of Milan and Turin. For special studies see books and articles by F. Malaguzzi-Valeri.
2
For relation of French Primatives to 14th c. Italians, see Fry's arts., Burl. Mag., June, July, 1904, and Buchot, L'.Arte, VII, 223-40. C. & C., N. Italy, and Morelli are now out of date.
3
Named from Forum Julii. Important for extant monuments of the 7th and 8th c. Borderland of NE. Italy. Lies between the river Piave and the present Austrian frontier = half mountain and half valley, lovely landscape and poor soil. Western Veneto lies between rivers Piave (E.), Mincio (W.), Po (S.).
4
From the ancient Via Æmilia, stretching from Rimini to Piacenza. Named from its builder, M. Æmilius Lepidus, consul 187 B.C.

-71-

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