ITALIAN PAINTING. EARLY RENAISSANCE. 1400-1500.
Books Recommended: As before, Burckhardt, Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Eastlake, Lafenestre, Lanzi, Habich, Lacroix, Mantz, Morelli, Burton, Rumohr, Stillman, Vasari; also Crowe and Cavalcaselle,History of Painting in North Italy; Berenson, Florentine Painters of Renaissance; Berenson, Venetian Painters of Renaissance; Berenson, Central Italian Painters of Renaissance; Study and Criticism of Italian Art; Boschini, La Carta del Navegar; Calvi, Memorie della Vita ed opere di Francesco Raibolini; Cibo, Niccolo Alunno e la scuola Umbra; Citadella, Notizie relative a Ferrara; Cruttwell, Verrocchio; Cruttwell, Pollaiuolo; Morelli, Anonimo, Notizie; Mezzanotte, Commentario della Vita di Pietro Vanucci; Mundler, Essai d'une Analyse critique de la Notice des tableaux Italiens au Louvre; Muntz, Les Précurseurs de la Renaissance; Muntz, La Renaissance en Italie et en France; Patch, Life of Masaccio; Hill, Pisanello, Publications of the Arundel Society; Richter,Italian Art in National Gallery, London; Ridolfi, Le Meraviglie dell' Arte; Rosini, Storia della Pittura Italiana; Schnaase, Geschichte der bildenden Kunste; Symonds, Renaissance in Italy—the Fine Arts; Vischer, Lucas Signorelli und die Italienische Renaissance; Waagen, Art Treasures; Waagen, Andrea Mantegna und Luca Signorelli (in Raumer's Taschenbuch, (1850)); Zanetti, Della Pittura Veneziana.
THE ITALIAN MIND: There is no way of explaining the Italian fondness for form and color other than by considering the necessities of the people and the artistic character of the Italian mind. Art in all its phases was not only an adornment but a necessity of Christian civilization. The Church taught people by sculpture, mosaic, miniature, and fresco. It was an object-teaching, a grasping of ideas by forms seen in the mind, not a presenting of abstract ideas as in literature. Printing was not known. There were few manuscripts, and the majority of people could not read. Ideas came to them for centuries through form and color, until at last the Italian mind took on a plastic and pictorial character. It saw things in symbolic figures, and when the Renaissance came and art took the lead as one of its strongest expressions, painting was but the color-thought and form-language of the people.
And these people, by reason of their peculiar education, were an exacting people, knowing what was good and demanding it from the artists. Every Italian was, in a way, an art critic, because every church in Italy was an art school. The artists may have led the people, but the people spurred on the artists, and so the Italian mind went on developing and unfolding until at last it produced the great art of the Renaissance.
THE AWAKENING: The Italian civilization of the fourteenth century was made up of many impulses and inclinations, none of them very strongly defined. There was a feeling about in the dark, a groping toward the light, but the leaders stumbled often on the road. There was good reason for it. The knowledge of the ancient world lay buried under the ruins of Rome. The Italians had to learn it all over again, almost without a precedent, almost without a preceptor. With the fifteenth century the horizon began to brighten. The Early Renaissance was begun. It was not a revolt, a reaction, or a starting out on a new path. It was a development of the Gothic period; and the three inclinations of the Gothic period—religion, the desire for classic knowledge, and the study of nature—were carried into the art of the time with greater realization.