Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

moral power. Giotto was not indeed one of the most accomplished painters, but he was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was the first master of his time, in architecture as well as in painting; he was the friend of Dante, and the undisputed interpreter of religious truth, by means of painting, over the whole of Italy. The works of such a man may not be the best to set before children in order to teach them drawing; but they assuredly should be studied with the greatest care by all who are interested in the history of the human mind.

Ruskin, Giotto and his Works in Padua.

BASIS OF LECTURE.

During the Middle Ages sculpture and painting lost entirely their ancient function of representing and ennobling life. Both arts became handmaids of the Church, and while used effectively for decorating, they were discouraged in any attempt to portray earthly beauty or strength such as would draw the mind away from spiritual things. The only art of the time in Italy worthy the name (except the slight Gothic influence from the north) was the Byzantine-dignified and noble and with something of the old classic spirit, but in the main symbolic, without vitality or material reality. Three great artists of the thirteenth century, however, threw so much individual genius into their imitation of classic and Byzantine models as to really pave the way by the excellence of their work for the inauguration of a new era in art-Niccola Pisano the sculptor, Cimabue of Florence and Duccio of Siena (see extracts from Vasari and Conway above). Then came Giovanni, son of Niccola, influenced by Gothic art and turning to natural instead of classic models; and after himapplying the new spirit to painting as Giovanni had to sculpture--the greatest of the pioneers of Renaissance art, Giotto di Bondone (1276-1336), born in Vespignano, near Florence, a Florentine by adoption and life, and a pupil of Cimabue. With him a new vigor, sanity and reality came into Italian painting, and a line of great masters carried on the tradition with increasing strength until the consummation of the whole movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (see notes from Symonds and Ruskin above).

TOPICS FOR CLASS. 1. Byzantine Art (see especially Conway, chap. 1),

2. Niccola and Giovanni Pisani (Vasari, Conway, Freeman, Perkins, and Ruskin, Val d'Arno).

3. Cimabue and Giotto (see Perkins, and Berenson, after reading Vasari).

4. The aim and spirit of the early Renaissance artists as compared with the Greeks (read Symonds' Fine Arts of the Renaissance, chap. I).

LECTURE III.

The Age of Petrarch and Boccaccio.

“I have dwelt especially upon antiquity, for our own age has always repelled me, so that had it not been for the love of those dear to me, I should have preferred to have been born in any other period than our own.”—Francesco Petrarca.

“When men began once more to read Virgil and Cicero, Horace and Juvenal, intelligently, sympathetically, admiringly, they had already left the Middle Ages behind them.-J. H. Robinson.

[ocr errors]

(6

Petrarch did not condemn logic. “Far from it.

I know that it is one of the liberal studies, a ladder for those who are striving upwards, and by no means a useless protection to those who are forcing their way through the thorny thickets of philosophy.

But because à road is proper for us to traverse, it does not immediately follow that we should linger on it forever. No traveller, unless he be mad, will forget his destination on account of the pleasures of the way; his characteristic virtue lies, on the contrary, in reaching his goal as soon as possible, never halting on the road. And who of us is not a traveller? We all have our long and arduous journey to accomplish in a brief and untoward time,-on a short, tempestuous wintry day, as it

Dialectics may form a portion of our road, but certainly not its end; it belongs to the morning of life, not to its evening."

-Petrarch (quoted in Robinson's Petrarch).

were.

“Dante brought the universe into his poem. But 'the soul of man, too, is a universe'; and of this inner microcosm Petrarch was the poet. It remained for Boccaccio, the third in the triumvirate, to treat of common life with art no less developed. From Beatrice through Laura to La Fiammetta; from the Divine Comedy through the Canzoniere to the Decameron; from the world beyond the grave through the world of feeling to the world in which we play our puppet parts; from the majestic terza rima, through the stately lyric stanzas, to Protean prosesuch was the rapid movement of Italian art within the brief space of some fifty years.”—J. A. Symonds.

.

BASIS OF LECTURE The revival of individualism and artistic life begun by Dante and Giotto was continued in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries by Petrarch, Boccaccio, and the disciples of Giotto-while the continued life of the most beautiful phases of Mediæval Christianity was seen in Fra Angelico. Petrarch is the first clear-cut type of the new era's intellectual energy and independence,-its critical power and love of culture for its own sake. His revolt from the dominion of logic (see above) and of Aristotle and his turning to letters and the real world had immense influence on his time. “I believe indeed that Aristotle was a great man and that he knew much; yet he was but a man, and therefore something, nay many things, may have escaped him.

And although he has said much of happiness both at the beginning and the end of his Ethics, I dare assert

that he was so completely ignorant of true happiness that the opinions upon this matter of any pious old woman, or devout fisherman, shepherd, or farmer, would if not so fine-spun, be more to the point than his.” He hated the superficial rationalism of his day, and was a true son of the Church, and yet his independence, his love of human culture, his mental restlessness and turn for criticism connect him with the Renaissance and the future rather than the Age of Faith which was passing. Boccaccio was his friend. As Petrarch's influence was towards love of culture and intellectual independence, Boccaccio's was towards love of beauty, of pleasure, of sensuous delight in things of the world. And in the meantime the art of painting was working its way steadily towards its great flowering time in the fifteenth century, sculpture (Orcagna, Ghiberti, Donatello) leading the way and showing the painters the arts of drawing and perspective.

[ocr errors]

TOPICS FOR CLASS. 1. Petrarch and Laura.

2. Petrarch as the first humanist (Symonds, Revival of Learning and Robinson).

3. The Characteristics of Boccaccio (The Decameron and Symonds' Literature of the Renaissance).

4. The Early Renaissance Sculptors (Freeman). 5. The successors of Giotto, and Fra Angelico (read Berenson, Florentine Painters, on period from Giotto to Masaccio).

6. The Italy of Petrarch's time (Gardner and Symonds).

LECTURE IV.

Lorenzo de' Medici and His Florence.

"At the very hour when the intellectual energy of the Middle Ages had sunk into exhaustion, the capture of Constantinople by the Turks and the flight of its Greek scholars to the shores of Italy opened anew the science and literature of an older world. The exiled Greek scholars were welcomed in Italy, and Florence, so long the home of freedom and of art, became the home of an intellectual revival. The poetry of Homer, the drama of Sophocles, the philosophy of Aristotle and of Plato, woke again to life beneath the shadow of the mighty dome with which Brunelleschi had just crowned the city by the Arno. All the restless energy which Florence had so long thrown into the cause of liberty she flung, now that her liberty was reft from her, into the cause of letters. The galleys of her merchants brought back manuscripts from the East as the most precious portion of their freight. In the palaces of her nobles fragments of classic sculpture ranged themselves beneath the frescoes of Ghirlandajo. The recovery of a treatise of Cicero's or a tract of Sallust’s from the dust of a monastic library was welcomed by the group of statesmen and artists who gathered in the Rucellai gardens with a thrill of enthusiasm.”—J. R. Green.

“It is easy to accuse him of insidiously, destroying. Florentine liberty; but the policy of Sixtus IV. left him no choice between such a course and retirement from Florence, and he may be pardoned if he doubted whether his abdication would conduce to the welfare of the city.

Lorenzo did what all Italian statesmen were doing; he identified his city for good or ill with his own house. He worked craftily and insidiously, not by open violence, and in the midst of his self-seeking he retained the large views of a statesman, and embodied the culture of his age.”—Creighton, History of the Papacy.

Basis OF LECTURE.

The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries saw the rise of the Florentine Republic to its prime. But the heat of party politics and the constant warfare between city and city wore out the strength of the popular government, and as in the case of

Rome the power drifted into the hands—first of magnates, wealthy and noble politicians and warriors, then of middle class leaders of the people against the republican aristocrats. Of these ostensible champions of freedom the greatest were the Medici, rich and astute bankers, who under the leadership of Cosimo dei Medici in the course of the fifteenth century became practically lords of Florence. Lorenzo the Magnificent was Cosimo's grandson, and from 1469 till his death in 1492 his control over Florence—still nominally a free republic—was scarcely a moment questioned. He is accused, as Cæsar was, of corrupting the city and crushing its liberty,--perhaps with equal truth. At any rate he helped to make Florence the most brilliant intellectual and artistic centre of his time, the focus of the new love of culture, and the home of the greatest group of artists that modern Europe has seen. As a foil to the moral depravity of the time and its frivolity there stand out in striking contrast the noble figure of Savonarola and the even more impressive one of Michelangelo.

TOPICS FOR CLASS. 1. The character and position of Lorenzo (Gardner and then Armstrong).

2. Savonarola (Gardner, pp. 111-160, and Villari's Life).
3. (a) Filippo Lippi, and (6) Filippino Lippi.
4. Botticelli.
5. Ghirlandajo.

6. Literature and Learning in Lorenzo's Florence (Symonds, Armstrong, and the Lives by Von Reumont and Roscoe).

LECTURE V.

The Renaissance in Venice.

"Among Italian cities Venice was unique. She alone was tranquil in her empire, unimpeded in her constitutional development, independent of Church interference, undisturbed by the cross purposes and intrigues of the despots, inhabited by merchants who were princes, and by a free born people who had never seen war at their gates. The

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »