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FREE EBOOK õ The Renaissance Portrait ⚼ In The Words Of Cultural Historian Jacob Burkhardt, Fifteenth Century Italy Was The Place Where The Notion Of The Individual Was Born In Keeping With That Idea, Early Renaissance Italy Was A Key Participant In The First Great Age Of Portraiture In Europe As Groundbreaking Artists Strove To Evoke The Identity Or Personality Of Their Sitters From Heads Of State And Church, Military Commanders, And Wealthy Patrons To Scholars, Poets, And Artists They Evolved Daring New Representational Strategies That Would Profoundly Influence The Course Of Western Art More Than A Mere Likeness, The Fifteenth Century Italian Portrait Was An Attempt To Wrest From The Unpredictability Of Life And The Shadow Of Mortality And Image That Could Be Passed Down To Future Generations The Renaissance Portrait, Which Accompanies A Landmark Exhibition At The Bode Museum, Berlin, And The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York, Provides New Research And Insight Into The Early History Of Portraiture In Italy, Examining In Detail How Its Major Art Centers Florence, The Princely Courts, And Venice Saw The Rapid Development Of Portraiture As Closely Linked To Renaissance Society And Politics, Ideas Of The Individual, And Concepts Of Beauty Essays By Leading Scholars Provide A Thorough Introduction To Renaissance Portraiture, While Individual Catalogue Entries Illustrate And Extensively Discuss ThanMagnificent Examples Of Painting, Drawing, Manuscript Illumination, Sculpture, And Medallic Portraiture By Such Artists As Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Pisanello, Mantegna, Antonello Da Messina, And Giovanni Bellini With Abundant Style And Visual Ingenuity, These Masters Transformed The Plain Facts Of Observation Into Something Beautiful To Behold This is the catalogue for an exhibition of 15th century Italian portraiture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art The show was remarkable for the quality of the works on display, the care with which they were chosen, and the sensitivity with which they were installed Reviewing it in Apollo, a UK art magazine, I wrote To walk through this exhibition and see so many objects of momentous cultural importance presented in intelligent groupings that bring out subtle visual relationships is a privilege both rare and profound Top quality pieces from the organising institutions the Met and the Gem ldegalerie, Berlin join loans from distinguished museums around the world as well as select private collections Exquisite sculptures by the likes of Donatello and Verrocchio complement master paintings by Botticelli, Mantegna, Pollaiuolo, Filippo Lippi and others. And yet, the catalogue itself is disappointing Uneven, chaotic, filled with tendentious hobbyhorse arguments, it provides a very poorly structured account of Renaissance portraiture s overall development Poor co ordination of the essays in this multi author volumeyields needless repetition of topics and information There is no proper lead essay to establish the narrative, and no uniform standards of quality or relevance appear to have been enforced on the contributors Whereas Patricia Rubin s essay on the purposes and forms of portraiture in Florence is very fine, and Peter Humfrey offers a solid overview of portraiture in Venice, Rudolf Preimesberger s parsing of the Latin and Italian versions of Leon Battista Alberti s treatise De Pictura 1435 36 is a veritable caricature of excruciating, obscurantist pedantry.The majority of the catalogue is devoted to object entries These are too long to serve as convenient reference material and too short to allow for the extended development and substantiation of ideas Certain contributors notably Andrea Bayer, Francesco Caglioti and Stefan Weppelmann manage to produce sterling work within these constraints, but others flagrantly abuse the format, making sweeping assertions uncorroborated by facts Marco Collareta finishes his entry on Donatello s Reliquary Bust of San Rossore c 1425 by asserting that 15th century Italian portrait busts were fundamentally different from contemporaneous Netherlandish portraits on panel because an interest in psychological expression was absent from northern European art at that time While his statement has the undeniable virtue of surveying the broad compass of art history with apparent authority, it lacks the farimportant virtue of being true The portraits of Jan van Eyck alone his Portrait of Jan de Leeuw 1436 and Man in a Red Turban 1433 , for instance are sufficient refutation, being justly renowned for their psychological nuance. The complete Apollo review is online and available hassle free while the March 2012 issue is current, but once the piece is archived, beginning in April, you may have to register with the Apollo website to read the text in its entirety The catalogue contains beautiful, high quality color reproductions of all the works in the show and is useful as a documentary record of a truly fine exhibition there are also some entirely sound observations scattered throughout That said, John Pope Hennessy s The Portrait In The Renaissance even though it isthan 40 years old and somewhat out of date on certain fine points of scholarship remains, in my opinion, a much better andinsightful treatment of this subject. I m no art critic so I can only talk about this book as a person who really enjoyed this Renaissance Portraiture exhibit at the Met I enjoyed seeing all those paintings and was intrigued by the stories behind them, the lives and relationships of the artists who created them and the times in which they lived I purchased this companion book while at The Met and have spent weeks dipping in and out of it I have enjoyed the essays, I loved studying the paintingsclosely and was inspired to do some reading on Simonetta Vespucci and her influence on Botticelli and also her relationships with the Medici s It has given some context to Dante s Inferno, enough to make me purchese a copy of that book and will attempt to tackle it at some point in the future I am very glad I bought this book I know I ll still be looking through it and finding new things to look at and think about for a long time to come.