Art History Journal Entries

Leonardo da Vinci. Architectural Perspective and Background Figures, for the Adoration of the Magi
Tiny Details and Charming Color Transitions of No Comparison
The true master of color accuracy, Leonardo da Vinci, involved into his early painting The Adoration of the Magi; it is touching and purely irresistible. Nothing else can provoke the thoughts more than the unfinished painting of a talented painter, who provided every image with vividness and exceptional resolution. An immense degree of tiny details and gradual charming transitions of color gradients make the image realistic and bring it to the full and convincing life.
The combination of the smooth surface and dominating ruins make the drawing reveal a mixture of emotions, both the admiration and rueful feelings. Leonardo's mercurial talents can hardly be underestimated, as the figures and objects in the foreground, particularly the Virgin Mary and a Child, would not mark out so much without the workmen and a rocky landscape in the background. This painting totally captures your attention with the relationship between both central and remote figures, rocky landscape, and space.
Leonardo always saw nature and depicted it as it looked like, and this magnificent drawing is so magnetic that it is hard to tear the one's eyes away from it. This proves this fact. The drawing is full of tenderness, some firmness and delicacy. This work by Leonardo is aimed not only to teach and show the true talent and professionalism, but it is also created to provide the pleasure to its viewers. Leonardo da Vinci. Horseman Trampling on Foe, Study for an Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza.
A Unique Painting that Has a Little Mystery behind It
There is hardly the other painter that was so much interested in horses as Leonardo da Vinci had been. This true love and real devotion resulted into a set of detailed studies and also a range of drawings and amazing works. One of the paintings worth everyone’s attention and admiration is Horseman Trampling on Foe that served as a preparatory drawing for the Sforza Monument. The drawing was created using the special blue prepared paper, pen and dark brown ink. Its total size is rather compact being approximately 151 x 188 mm.
Leonardo’s studies of this amazing creature surely helped him to distinctly portray the movements of the horse and rider. This drawing may remind a cavalryman engaged into a battle as this effect is achieved with the help of multiple contours; this creates an illusion of movement. However, an interesting fact is that the artist just was looking for the best position as establishing the proper position was very important and even quite crucial for every sculpture. Besides, as the author stated himself, the actual motion is a real miracle that captures your attention, and there is a small mystery in it as it helps to gather all the threads and ideas together. So, what is there behind this sculpture? Have a look at it and find an answer for yourself. Art can be a real challenge and miracle, if you believe in it.
Michelangelo. Drawing after Donatello’s Bronze David
The Eternal Image of David and the Differences in His Perception
David is surely one of the most distinguished personalities both in history and in art. It is not strange that so many artists and talented people tried to depict him in their works and, thus, to show their personal perception and understanding of this character. Michelangelo is not an exception; and the drawing that he had created proved that the painting did not match completely with the viewpoint of the man perceived behind the sculpture.
The main peculiarities and differences of drawing include such aspects as viewing the neck and shoulders as from above, though this would be impossible in making the sculpture. Besides, the picture depicts David from the back left corner of the base. Such differences are explained by the fact that the artist could have sketched the sculpture in several variants with more than a single point of view and, thus, he managed to incorporate the absolutely different views into one final picture. Moreover, it is important to remember that the talented and artistic people have a rather extraordinary observation of things and, thus, the perception of three dimensionalities is quite typical.
Raphael. Studies of the Madonna and Child
What Is New about the Image of Madonna and Child According to Raphael?
Depicting Madonna and Child can certainly be called a true must-have for every famous artist. Religious themes have always been predominating in art or, at least, some elements of them. Raphael’s work is presented in the unique form that was drawn with pen and ink. This is a series of paintings that perfectly depicts the author’s perception and studies of Madonna and Child.
What is really worth to pay the attention to are the three upper and also two central sketches that serve as the variations on the theme of The Virgin and Child. The other two sketches of the boy that happened to be the lowest ones are believed to be the studies for The Child St John the Baptist.
We can see that Raphael did not focus on one particular image or an idea; and the overlap of drawings proved this fact. Raphael surely had the particular idea that could be achieved only with the help of diverse compositions that were developed simultaneously. Moreover, the poses and gestures are also changed in the same sketch in order to reach the main idea. Besides, circular lines provide the painting with great energy and movements. It is also impossible not to notice the impact of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo on the works of Raphael and his amazing sketches.
Bramante. Belvedere, Vatican, Rome under construction, as seen from the papal palace in a drawing by G.A. Dosio
What Does the Famous City and Its Architecture Hide from the General View?
There are a lot of paintings devoted to Rome and its famous places; however, little is known about Bramante, especially during the period of Rome’s construction. The amazing feature of drawings by G.A. Dosio is that his works show all the details and aspects of the particular place clearly and in a very distinguished way, and the Arch of Septimius Severus is not an exception. This large-scale drawing reveals many details that are not familiar to the modern citizens of this large city. Besides, some sections are missing from the cornice; and it is also possible to notice that the southwest column is split lengthwise, and nearly a half of it is absent. Some other interesting details are the remains of medieval battlements and the tower that can be seen in the top area of drawing.
Raphael. Fighting Men (study for relief sculpture in Philosophy)
Clarity of Form and Amazing Simplicity of Composition that Are Still Admired throughout Many Years
This rather small drawing is created with the dark red chalk may seem to be of no particular interest for many people, but not for those, who know the true price and value of art, especially if we are talking about Raphael. It is known that Raphael had an obsession of drawing the naked and fighting men, though no further information or explanation is available concerning this topic. Anyway, there is a considerable number of works, where Raphael had depicted this theme and the Fighting Men is one of the most distinguished and remarkable of his works.
If we had a less advantageous opinion of Raphael than we ought to, it would not take more than these drawings to show the height of his genius. Other artists jot their ideas on the paper, and there is no doubt that they just try to grope their way by such methods. Raphael, however, in bringing forth his ideas, even when obviously carried away by the strength of his imagination, at the first coup, produced the works which were so accomplished that there was no need to edit or add something in order to finish them.
Fighting Men is of the particular importance for those, who are interested in the forms in relation to one another and try to understand this bond. The original variant of this work is a black and white photogravure, and such type of drawing is usually created with the help of a metal-tipped lead drawing tool. The famous painter of the High Renaissance period is still highly admired for this drawing and his ability to demonstrate his great talent, the clarity of form and, besides, a real simplicity of composition.
Raphael. Transfiguration of Christ and Healing of the Boy Possessed by Demons
Art as a Method to Connect God and People
Art is a unique language; and it is also believed to be a great way of communication. For instance, it can serve as a linkage between God and people. The transfiguration of Christ and Healing of the Boy Possessed by Demons is certainly such type of painting of the Italian High Renaissance created by the painter Raphael.
The transfiguration gives the depth, void, air, as in the contrast with the dark mound and dark heaven. It marks the level, while the glory shows the perpendicular. The sloping surface of the mound is felt more keenly when these two principal dimensions in the picture are maintained; and like these, the other slanting planes in the figures can be likewise felt, or the melting together of the lying figures with the level surface of the mound.
To each figure's motive of the movement related to the melting together with or in the contrast to spacious parts against which it is seen, the answers of an active or passive character, such as the rising expression of three apostles on the mound, are seen from left to right. It can be felt in the whole composition as a common picture; the picture impresses by its own strength when the beholder knows or guesses this law, when he can follow the movement of persons as in the stream from below upwards and when he guesses the crosswise influence of the lateral motive.
But the human sympathy for the subject is likewise of assistance, in conjunction with the respect to dimensions of this great style, both for the masses and the heights - in the voids and pauses. One can train an eye towards these phases of art. It may seem to be easier to estimate and understand the importance of the empty level space and the whole ensemble here. The transfiguration was also originally the more difficult composition to understand.
Michelangelo. Resurrection
The Importance of Details for the Whole Vision
The painting depicts rather cold and sad atmosphere; besides, it reveals very controversial emotions - a combination of grief, anxiety and desperation. This work served as the last part for the altar of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican, and, thus, it finished the whole series.
The whole composition is perfectly adapted to the originally convex surface of the block. The lateral figures are disposed on a receding plane while the central figures are in a particularly high relief. Michelangelo conserved jealously as the original form of the block, retaining here again a kind of border on three sides.
In the upper part of the relief, a strip of about 8 cm. wide is left almost uncut. It is possible to suppose that Michelangelo planned and perhaps even began to work on the row of figures which he himself later suppressed while the work had been in the process. This assertion, however, seems to be almost unlikely for the composition to be closed throughout the whole width of the relief at the height of Eurythion’s arm. It seems rather that Michelangelo renounced from the beginning the utilization of the entire height of the block, which in its proportions was poorly adapted to the battle composition and merely refrained from destroying the upper part of block through his respect of the material itself.
What is characteristic of his early works, this is the execution of details that remains generalized in spite of the grandeur of the vision, in the whole. The heads of an almost rectilinear form, with low foreheads, and the unconscious expression of dreamers are characteristic of this work of the young master. The only exception is a curious head of the bearded old man behind Theseus, which reminds the antique portraits of Socrates.
The apostles and saints represented are decided upon by the Cardinal. At the very top, there are such figures and objects as Christ, two braccia and one palmo high because of the distance from the observer depicted. In the ’tribuna,’ that is in the upper niche where there now Madonna is standing, there were three figures: again Christ, two braccia and four dita high, flanked by St. Thomas and St. John the Evangelist, each two braccia high. At the extremities of the cornice, in the right and left of the upper niches, there were two little angels with trumpets, each two braccia less four dita. The head and the drapery of St. Francis’ figure, began by Pietro Torrigiani, was completed by Michelangelo out of ’friendliness‘. This figure is in the lower niche in the left corner of monument. In the center of the iconographic program, there is the Resurrection (Christ resurrected and the angels with trumpets are painted), well-suited for the grave-monument.
Out of the sixteen statues (Michelangelo made fifteen monuments and St. Francis one of them), nine of them were determined for the niches (six for the individual niches and three for the large tribunas), two, the angels, in the extremities of the cornice, and five at the top where the bases are still visible (two above the segmental pediments of the side and three above the central tympanum).
Andrea del Sarto. Assumption of the Virgin

First Impression Is not always the True One in Art
Assumption of the Virgin is one of the most distinguished works by Andrea del Sarto, though the critics were quite reserved in their comments and opinions. The first opinion is rather negative as the virgin looks like a dirty ordinary girl. Besides, she looks so especially due to the great quantity of the boy angels around her. There may be no total harmony; however, the total effect is quite impressive.
This religious painting looks quite studiously detached. However, this is only the first opinion, and then it may be changed. When you have a deeper look at this painting you notice that this drawing serves as a sensitive and involved response and a perception typical for the earlier generation and the visual culture of that period. Besides, the painting has much of the space determined for framing or mounting as it is usually done with 3 inches of blank canvas from all sides. Such a large amount of dark tones makes the painting quite depressive and overshadowed, though it is still very impressive and memorable among other samples.
10.Pontormo. Study for Deluge Fresco for San Lorenzo
The Importance of Ties in Art
Pontormo showed that the individuality should not be studied separately as many objects and notions appear to be tied together; and they should be analyzed in such a relation too; such as, for instance, the knot of limbs, heads, backs and other parts of body.
Pontormo is known to be extremely critical about choosing a particular pose; and he started to use clay models only when he was 100 percent sure about the chosen pose. The artist was interested in such common processes as the daily food intake, some typical aches and the most widespread illnesses. Besides, he depicted these studies in his works and showed the process of the aging body. The work is made with the black chalk with the height of 268 mm and the width of nearly 410 mm.
Though much attention has been paid to this work, still the subject is unclear with an episode from Exodus, or it is also believed that this is somehow related to the well-known series of frescoes that belong to the typical scenes from the Old Testament.
Rosso Fiorentino. Descent from the Cross
Religious Themes Tend to Prevail in Art
This work is mainly distinguished because of color selections and the amazing violent and emotional expressiveness of drawing. The painting reveals rather controversial emotions, and the spectator may experience the powerful thrill of horror and grief being partially similar to the emotions of characters in the drawing that they have to face, while helping to lift Christ’s body from the cross and then while burying Him.
It is also possible to say that this piece of art should be perceived as a means of stating the ideas as such of describing the forms not predominating here. The lighting is one more important aspect as there is a feeling of the whole painting lit by it.
The viewer may also have the feeling as the characters depicted in the drawing seem to be frozen and puzzled because of their thoughts. The image of Christ’s dead body is also very important, though it is rather emotional.
An interesting fact is that it is believed that Rosso Fiorentino depicted himself in this drawing, and some say that the red-headed man covered with grief because of his beloved Christ's death is the painter himself.
Domenico Beccagumi. Fall of the Rebel Angels (second version) c. 1528
Between Heaven and Hell
The panel depicting St Michael subduing Lucifer was made on the commission of Carmelite friars of San Niccolo al Carmine. There are two versions: one of them is in Pinacoteca, the later produced one is still a part of the altar of San Niccolo al Carmine’s church. The earlier version is at first difficult to understand: at bottom of the painting there are three elongated figures of nude men. The background is gloomy and seems to surround them. As for the other figures, they are shown in various positions. The upper part shows flying angels and the figure of Saint Michael.
The later produced version is organized more clearly. Here the figure of God in red mantle dominates over the composition. The angels are seated around God, while the figure of Saint Michael is placed much lower, and he plays the role of an agent between heaven and hell.
Correggio. Adoration of the Shepherds

The Appearance of the Luministic Effects
Light plays a significant role in this painting. The treatment of light served as a unique result and achievement in art. The main focus of painting is the child that lies in Mary's arms. We can also see a number of shepherds from the left side greeting the child. The painting is full of light and true happiness. The traditional animals are also presented in the drawing and, according to the religious beliefs, several angels are depicted there too.
The importance of this work is proved by the further development of luministic effects that initially appeared in the Adoration of the Shepherds painted by Correggio.
Guilo Romano. The Gods on Mount Olympus and the Fall of the Giants

Chaos and Space to Improve the Artistic Scene
What is more fascinating than the sense of chaos and space is that according to some strange rule this chaos and space manage to interrelate? The main notions typical for the work of Guilo Romano are the chaos and space, as mentioned before, as they help to achieve the high level of the artistic scene.
The giant with the horn that is presented in the drawing reveals some sounds, and, thus, the sound contributing is of the particular importance for this work. Guilo Romano took many antique references in order to create this drawing, and, besides, the use of space is explained in order to satisfy the senses of the viewer.
15. Titian. Pastoral Scene
A Unique Story behind The Simple Composition
Titian’s Pastoral Scene surely has a unique story to tell its viewers. This is absolutely clear from the first glance. The composition is quite simple, but still the drawing is extremelly eye-catching with a half-naked  and rather heroically proportioned figure of a woman placed at the lower right corner. Two more interesting details that capture the attention at once are the goat and boar in the middle of the painting. Anyway, such location of these objects proves that Titian had his own unique vision, and, besides, there was a specific subject in his mind.
The drawing shows the moment of the high hot summer when the amorous ease has been covered with numerous thoughts concerning the upcoming fall; and he is also thinking of hardships and death. Titian was surely a master of composing an imaginary landscape as the setting for a mysterious subject. Moreover, some say that the main subject depicted by Titian was Venus mourning because of the death of Adonis.
Lorenzo Lotto. Portrait of a Woman as Lucretia
The Tragedy involved into the Drawing
From the first look, the painting looks quite simple, and there is nothing unusual about it. There is a female figure that leans to the side, with the rather elaborate and softly painted clothes, and with prevailing green and orange colors. However, the attention is mainly focused on the drawing she is holding in her left hand, where the other woman, who is believed to be her Roman namesake, Lucretia, is shown. The tragedy of the drawing by Lorenzo Lotto is that the depicted woman is going to stab herself because of the powerful worries and frustrations as she had been raped by the son of the distinguished king Tarquin. There is also a message on the paper that lies on the table being written in Latin; and these words are taken from the well-known Roman historian Livy.
An interesting fact is that Lucretia was initially drawn in color, and it was not a monochrome drawing. Besides, the virtue is also a very important detail of the portrait. Lorenzo Lotto can hardly be called a typical artist of the High Renaissance period as he often used the unusual posing of figures in his drawings, and there were also the certain distortions present in the body shape.
Dosso Dossi. Melissa

Extraordinary Is a Typical Feature of Art
This rather extraordinary work is surely rich in colors and texture and, besides, it is very immense in its size. The magical landscape adds a unique point to the drawing, and this hand-painted oil in the canvas painting is a real enhancement for every room and every institution.
Dosso Dossi manages to transform the charming exquisiteness of Titian and Giorgione into the image of Melissa in his work by also adding the small male figures bound to a tree, as the possession of the issue in the upper left corner and this is, no doubt, that of the enchanter. And this way such information may, in the end, encourage reconsidering the primary thesis. The artisan binds with his art, and though the artist, as for instance, Gallic Hercules, can hope to bind the audience after some time, and the poetics of Michelangelo shows the likelihood of the maker.
Sofonisba Anguissola. Portrait of the Artist’s Three Sisters with their Governess
Amusing and Extremely Rare Scene for the Renaissance Period
One of the most warm and charming drawings from this period is this one that immediately overwhelms every viewer with its friendly and cozy atmosphere. This portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola depicts three young women that are involved in one of the most old and widespread games - playing chesses.
The atmosphere of this game is quite relaxed and one of the sisters, the youngest one, is laughing, while her older sister is trying to focus on the game and think of her next step; she is probably getting ready to checkmate. This everyday scene is quite amusing, and it can definitely be considered as a rather rare one for the Renaissance period in the way that women had been depicted and drawn at that time.
Paolo Veronese and pupils. Apotheosis of Venice

What Is Venice like for Paolo Veronese?
Certainly, an amazing painting, especially in this time, was commissioned by the Venetian government, and it was initially aimed to serve as an addition for the ceiling of Sala of the Palazzo Ducale. As a result, it became a part of the thirty five panels in the ceiling.
The whole composition is full of diverse emotions, including peace, fame, real happiness, certain honor, and the overwhelming freedom. Besides, these emotions are presented as the personifications in the painting and are arrayed at the feet of Venice sitting enthroned in the center of the composition. Some peculiar details include the amazing triumphal arch that is fronted by twisting columns and that is enclosed in the top part of an enormous balcony looking as if it is touching the ceiling.
Paolo Veronese and his pupils depicted the elegant form of the Venetian society and the time period itself; besides, it is possible to see how thoroughly all the colors and themes for this composition had been chosen. Moreover, the masterpiece was created without forgiving many distinguished portraits of significant individuals and personalities of the history.
Response of Book I of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier
The Ongoing Debate that Will hardly ever Stop
The debate on the topic what makes and constitutes the real man, a perfect one will hardly come to an end one day. Many issues of literature, articles, and various reviews have been already written on this topic. However, Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier tends to shed the most of the light onto this issue. The first book starts with the ongoing debate. Besides, it contains a set of suggestions of various games that can help to provide the debate with an answer. The book is constructed in a very detailed way, and all the primary areas of discussion are brought up in it.
The book is written in a dialogue form, and it is one of the most distinguishing features as it is possible to record some of the debates held at the court of Urbino in such a way. The book discusses many important areas including the description and explanation of the role of Urbino and his lords. Moreover, much attention is focused on Urbino’s court and the main individuals taking part in this debate. The main circumstances that resulted into the debate are also mentioned, and, thus, it is much easier to understand the general problem.
Response of Book II of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier
The Book of the Courtier and its Crucial Rules
If the author decides to express his idea with the help of several books he usually means that he has many ideas, and he is really an expert in the particular topic. Castiglione’s second book has much in similar with the first one. However, still there are certain differences. The book examines such topics as the main reasons why the aged ones tend to defend the present against such aspersions. Moreover, the book is full of praise of the court of Urbino.
The main discussion starts from the time of employing the features and the most distinguished accomplishments determined by Canossa. The book marks out a set of general and most important rules such as to escape from affectation, try to speak and act both discreetly and opportunely, focus on honor and praise in martial exercises, on war and public contests.
Response of Book III of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier
The Tight Line between Prudishness and Over-Freedom
Castiglione is famous for refining enthusiasm in the elegant conversations of the dialogues in the book and also through his art. For just two short decades at the beginning of the sixteenth century, these masterpieces of the High Renaissance culture magically harmonize moral ideals with elegant manners, optimistic ideals of the political and social action with an aesthetic self-cultivation, and virile, directed energy with grace and refinement.
 Even at the time of his cultural greatest triumphs, Castiglione sensed the fragility of his harmonies, the instability and impermanence of his forms; and he fittingly shaped his book.
This section of The Book of the Courtier also discusses such topics as the main characteristics that are typical for the Courtier and Court. Besides, the Court Lady was depicted in a rather affable and modest way, thus, the limit between prudishness and over-freedom has been preserved.
Response to the Book IV of Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier
Temperance, Ignorance, and Other Important Aspects Defined by Castiglione
The Book of the Courtier outwardly expresses the aura of true solidarity of courtiers who came from different regions to Urbino to try to portray an ideal courtier; but the critics these days discuss the new hidden tensions in the elegant courtly life. Most of the known up-to-date readings are focused on the relations between the courtier and the prince or on the other courtiers. But there also exists an opinion that the joke-telling gave the courtiers an opportunity to express their hostility under the cover of humor.
The following points are covered in this book: 1) ignorance as a reason of nearly all human mistakes; 2) temperance as the source of all the virtues; 3) the way of life - contemplative or active – and how it befits a prince; 4) peace as the main aim of any war; 5) upbringing of princes should be conducted in the right way and should become as a habit.

Lincoln Perry’s mural
Magnetic Lincoln Perry’s Mural, both in True Life and in the Digital World
Lincoln Perry’s mural is one of the most distinguished objects in art nowadays. The enormous mural inside the Old Cabell Hall is a rather new feature of the venerable building of the University of Virginia as it was created only in the year 2000. This landmark mural has quickly got the status of the most prominent iconographic features in the institution.
It took much time and the numerous efforts in order to put this idea into practice and extend its landmark mural into the lobby wings of the building. The creative process was not simple at all; and there were many nuances and serious challenges that the creators of the mural had to face with. Now, this surely the piece of art can reasonably stand in the centuries of an old tradition of mural painting. The figures depicted in the mural can be characterized as the life sized ones, and the mural is surely considered as a large scale work.

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