ITALIAN PAINTING. THE HIGH RENAISSANCE—1500-1600.

In technical methods, though extensive work was still done in fresco, especially at Florence and Rome, yet the bulk of High-Renaissance painting was in oils upon panel and canvas. At Venice even the decorative wall paintings were upon canvas, afterward inserted in wall or ceiling.

FIG. 39.—ANDREA DEL SARTO. MADONNA OF ST. FRANCIS. UFFIZI.FIG. 39.—ANDREA DEL SARTO. MADONNA OF ST. FRANCIS. UFFIZI.

THE FLORENTINES AND ROMANS: There was a severity and austerity about the Florentine art, even at its climax. It was never too sensuous and luxurious, but rather exact and intellectual. The Florentines were fond of lustreless fresco, architectural composition, towering or sweeping lines, rather sharp color as compared with the Venetians, and theological, classical, even literary and allegorical subjects. Probably this was largely due to the classic bias of the painters and the intellectual and social influences of Florence and Rome. Line and composition were means of expressing abstract thought better than color, though some of the Florentines employed both line and color knowingly.

This was the case with Fra Bartolommeo (1475-1517), a monk of San Marco, who was a transition painter from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century. He was a religionist, a follower of Savonarola, and a man of soul who thought to do work of a religious character and feeling; but he was also a fine painter, excelling in composition, drawing, drapery, color. The painter's element in his work, its material and earthly beauty, rather detracted from its spiritual significance. He opposed the sensuous and the nude, and yet about the only nude he ever painted—a St. Sebastian for San Marco—had so much of the earthly about it that people forgot the suffering saint in admiring the fine body, and the picture had to be removed from the convent. In such ways religion in art was gradually undermined, not alone by naturalism and classicism but by art itself. Painting brought into life by religion no sooner reached maturity than it led people away from religion by pointing out sensuous beauties in the type rather than religious beauties in the symbol.

Fra Bartolommeo was among the last of the pietists in art. He had no great imagination, but some feeling and a fine color-sense for Florence. Naturally he was influenced somewhat by the great ones about him, learning perspective from Raphael, grandeur from Michael Angelo, and contours from Leonardo da Vinci. He worked in collaboration with Albertinelli (1474-1515), a skilled artist and a fellow-pupil with Bartolommeo in the workshop of Cosimo Rosselli. Their work is so much alike that it is often difficult to distinguish the painters apart. Albertinelli was not so devout as his companion, but he painted the religious subject with feeling, as his Visitation in the Uffizi indicates. Among the followers of Bartolommeo and Albertinelli were Fra Paolino (14901547), Bugiardini (1475-1554), Granacci (1477-1543), who showed many influences, and Ridolfo Ghirlandajo (1483-1561).

FIG. 40.—MICHAEL ANGELO. ATHLETE. SISTINE, ROME.
FIG. 40.—MICHAEL ANGELO. ATHLETE. SISTINE, ROME.

Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531) was a Florentine pure and simple—a painter for the Church producing many madonnas and altar-pieces, and yet possessed of little religious feeling or depth. He was a painter more than a pietist, and was called by his townsmen "the faultless painter." So he was as regards the technical features of his art. He was the best brushman and colorist of the Florentine school. Dealing largely with the material side his craftsmanship was excellent and his pictures exuberant with life and color, but his madonnas and saints were decidedly of the earth—handsome Florentine models garbed as sacred characters—well-drawn and easily painted, with little devotional feeling about them. He was influenced by other painters to some extent. Masaccio, Ghirlandajo, and Michael Angelo were his models in drawing; Leonardo and Bartolommeo in contours; while in warmth of color, brush-work, atmospheric and landscape effects he was quite by himself. He had a large number of pupils and followers, but most of them deserted him later on to follow Michael Angelo. Pontormo (1493-1558) and Franciabigio (1482-1525) were among the best of them.