A Short History of Italian Painting

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

SQUARCIONE1 1394-1474

PADUA, more than Venice, was open to the intellectual and artistic life of the rest of Italy; she had developed a great University, and had encouraged the literary life; she had invited the most celebrated artists of Florence to work for her;2 yet she produced no important artist before Squarcione, and he is important rather from his impress upon others than from any work of his own. The Florentine artists had awakened the local masters to the deficiencies of the North Italian style--its ultra-conservatism of design and exotic motives.

Francesco Squarcione, the son of a Paduan notary, was at first a tailor and embroiderer by trade; but he early devoted himself to his natural passion for art of the new classic and naturalistic mode. He seems to have travelled extensively in the East, and to have collected examples of the antique with which, when he finally settled in Padua again, he incited and taught the numerous pupils and assistants that he gathered about him. We conceive of him as an enthusiastic collector and pioneer, of personal force of character, who expounded to his countrymen the new thought, and developed a manner which they understood and accepted once for all. After him there is no return to old forms.

The fundamental character of Squarcione's style is the complete rejection of Byzantine and Gothic motives, and a conscious

____________________
1
Authorities: Testi, Stor. d. Pit. Venez., I, 428-44, with references to original sources: for school of Squarcione, 444-52; Kristeller; P. Selvatico, Scritti d' Arte, Florence, 1859, gives docs. concerning Squarcione; Scardeone, Squarcione, is a source, cited by C. & C., N. It., I, 297 n. The traditional biography by Vasari is largely confirmed by docs. There are numerous doc. notices of Squarcione; Kristeller, Francesco Squarcione e le sue relazione con Andrea Mantegna, Rass. d' A., IX, No. 10, IV-V; abundant evidence of his activity as a director of a bottebest account is given by Selvatico; for docs. more recent than Selvatico, see P. ga in docs., and in extant pictures signed by artists as his scholars. For interesting analysis of Paduan design, see Fry, Giov. Bellini, 10-11. The altarpiece, S. Jerome and SS., Padua, is perhaps a bottega work (see C. & C., and B. B., List), but not representative of the normal art of the school.
2
Uccello, while Donatello was in Padua (Vas.); Fra Fil. Lippi, 1434 (doc.); Donatello, 1443-1453.

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