MENTION has already been made in connexion with Leonardo of the struggle of painters, sculptors, and architects to attain recognition of their professions as liberal arts. With their new scientific methods they began to claim superiority over mere craftsmen, and tried to establish for themselves a better social position.
In practice the position of the artist was considerably higher in the fifteenth century than it had been before. Ghiberti and Brunelleschi both held important administrative posts in Florence, the latter being even a member of the Signoria. In general the public respect for artists had increased immeasurably and was to become even greater in the sixteenth century when the adjective divine was applied to Michelangelo. However, there continued to be theoretical opposition to the admission of painting and sculpture among the liberal arts. In the middle of the fifteenth century Lorenzo Valla excludes them from his list, and much later both Cardanus and Vossius class them as mechanical. Pinturicchio leaves them out in his frescoes of the liberal arts in the Borgia apartments of the Vatican, painted in the last decade of the fifteenth century. It is hard for us to realize the importance attached to these disputes about the liberal arts, but it is brought home to us by a story told by Baccio Bandinelli, who records in his Memoriale a duel fought between his cousin and the Vidame de Chartres because the latter accused the Florentine nobles of practising manual arts in that they took an active interest in painting and sculpture.1 The claims of artists to a better social position sometimes simply take the form of showing that in earlier times the____________________