A Text Book of the History of Painting by John C Van Dyke L H D

By John C Van Dyke L H D

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It is strange that such an art should be adopted by foreign nations, and yet it was. Its bloody crucifixions and morbid madonnas were well fitted to the dark view of life held during the Middle Ages, and its influence was wide-spread and of long duration. It affected French and German art, it ruled at the North, and in the East it lives even to this day. That it strongly affected Italy is a very apparent fact. Just when it first began to show its influence there is matter of dispute. It probably gained a foothold at Ravenna in the sixth century, when that province became a part of the empire of Justinian.

Only one of them, Leonardo, can be classed among the High Renaissance men. Perugino belongs to the Umbrian school, and Lorenzo di Credi (1450-1537), though Florentine, never outgrew the fifteenth century. He was a pure painter, with much feeling, but weak at times. His drawing was good, but his painting lacked force, and he was too pallid in flesh color. There is much detail, study, and considerable grace about his work, but little of strength. Piero di Cosimo (1462-1521) was fond of mythological and classical studies, was somewhat fantastic in composition, pleasant in color, and rather distinguished in landscape backgrounds.

The figure was rather short and squat, coarse in the joints, hands, and feet, and almost expressionless in the face. Christian life at that time was passion-strung, but the faces in art do not show it, for the reason that the Roman frescos were the painter's model, not the people of the Christian community about him. There was nothing like a realistic presentation at this time. The type alone was given. In the drawing it was not so good as that shown in the Roman and Pompeian frescos. There was a mechanism about its production, a copying by unskilled hands, a negligence or an ignorance of form that showed everywhere.

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