Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600

By Anthony Blunt | Go to book overview

Chapter II LEONARDO

APART from Michelangelo, Leonardo is the only great painter of the Italian Renaissance who has left in writing any quantity of material dealing with the arts, and we should expect that the opinions and ideas of such a man would throw more light on Renaissance art-theories than all the systematic and philosophical treatises of the laymen who wrote in the sixteenth century. Many of his theories do, of course, give us information about the methods and ideas of the period which we cannot derive from other sources, but the confusion of the surviving manuscripts and the lack of plan in the notes make it impossible to deduce a really coherent theory of the arts from Leonardo's written works.

Leonardo evidently intended to write a full-dress treatise on painting, and, according to Luca Pacioli, some sections of it at least were finished by 1498. If this is so, the parts in question are lost, but many schemes for the general plan of the treatise, not all of them consistent with each other, survive in the existing material. What we actually have left of Leonardo's writing is an enormous mass of notes, mostly jotted on the margins of sketch-books. These notes are either passages which Leonardo copied down from what he read, or original ideas embodying a personal theory or observation.

The datable manuscripts cover a period from 1489 to 1518. The originals are to be found in many public and private libraries, particularly in Paris and at Windsor, and most of them have been published. 1 Even more important, however,

____________________
1
Principally by J. P. Richter in The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, London, 1880-3, and 1939; by C. Ravaisson-Mollien in Les Manuscrits de Léonard de Vinci, Paris, 1881-91; in the edition of the Codex Atlanticus published by the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome, 1884- 1904; and by Beltrami in Il Codice di Leonardo da Vinci nella Biblioteca delPrincipe Trivulzio in Milano

-23-

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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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