The High Renaissance 1
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonard da Vinci was both prophet and arch-exponent of the High
Renaissance, the oldest of its three supreme masters. His concern
to convey emotion through subtleties of expression meticulously
observed is clearly evident in the early portrait. The technical
skill used in The Mona Lisa, with which tones and color are
merged into volume and the mysterious individuality evoked were
The shadow of a great genius is a peculiar thing. Under Rembrandt's
shadow, painters flourished to the extent that we can no longer
distinguish their work from his own. But Leonardo's was a chilling
shadow, too deep, too dark, too overpowering.
The Adoration of the Magi, 1481
Leonardo worked from dark to light, building up in oils
a new medium and a new technique in Italy. The almost monochrome
underpaint reveals his methods. He created form by tonal blending
without lines or borders in the manner of smoke
his famous sfumato technique. An elaborate perspective preparatory
drawing has survived, but even there the mathematical grid is laden
with creatures apparently of fantasy, full of inner life.
The of the rocks as commissioned in 1483 (a second
and later version was produced with an assistants help). The
pyramidal group of figures centered on the Madonna, set in a fantastic
landscape illumined by a mysterious twilight, was to prove a recurrent
source of inspiration, especially for Fra Bartolommeos and
The of the rocks, c. 1483-85
Strangeness a nebulous metaphysical, even divine quality
is conveyed by the mysterious light and quiet expressions
of the and the angel.
The expulsion of Heliodorus is full of tempestuous movement
anticipating aspects of Mannerist, even of Baroque art. There
are dramatic contrasts of light and dark, the colors are richer
and stronger. Heliodorus, attempting to steal temple treasures,
was thwarted by a miraculous horse and rider. For Julius II, borne
on a litter to the left, anyone who threatened papal temporal power
was a Heliodorus. The effect is most dramatic upon entering the
room the fresco is revealed from left to right.
For splendor of color, the climax was reached in some of Titians
late mythologies painted for Philip II. His last works became sometimes
somber in tone, but they are the most broadly painted, and the most
emotional, of all.
The Young Englishman, c. 1540
Implicit in the whole is the aristocratic bearing and gentility
of the young man. The blacks glow with splendor, set off by the
light of smoldering eyes.
The Holy Trinity, c. 1411
The death of the , c.1290?
The Grandeur of Renaisassance