Italian Pictures of the Renaissance

Italian Pictures of the Renaissance

Italian Pictures of the Renaissance

Italian Pictures of the Renaissance


The Lists comprising this book differ from those originally appended to the four volumes of my Renaissance Painters, not only by bringing all the schools together under one alphabetical order, not only by including many more artists and a great many more pictures than I knew thirty-five years ago, but in being inspired by a different principle.

The Lists in previous editions, although revised from time to time, were all based on the conviction that the hand of the artist never faltered, even if his head did occasionally nod. The execution, on this theory, tended to weigh more than the creative mental effort. The question of questions was whether a painting was autograph. If it was not autograph, it did not count, unless indeed it betrayed the hand of another painter, in which case it was included in that painter's work. An artistic personality thus shrank to a composite of those pictures only where hand and mind were one.

Would that hand and mind were always one! that the artist himself never worked with the makeshift of an inferior self, or with the help of apprentices!

This former exclusiveness was perhaps a necessary and salutary discipline. It enabled one to reach the heart of an artistic personality before starting to put out to its limits; it made one so familiar with his ways that one became able to recognize him even in his uninspired moments.

But now, fortified with this experience of the artist at his highest, one may well afford to relax from the earlier severity, and include every work that shows the distinct trace of his creative purpose, whether largely or only in small part by his own hand, whether done in his studio on his indications, or whether mere copies of lost works.

Indeed, it now seems that to confine interest to what looks like perfect achievement is dandiacal aestheticism. One who dedicates his whole life to art, and not merely his week-ends, holidays, and leisure moments . . .

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