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Bernhard Berenson

Well, it was of the power to stimulate the tactile consciousness—of the essential, as I have ventured to call it, in the art of painting—that Giotto was supreme master. This is his everlasting claim to greatness, and it is this which will make him a source of highest æsthetic delight for a period at least as long as decipherable traces of his handiwork remain on mouldering panel or crumbling wall.

  • Berlin.
    • Von Kaufmann Collection. Head of female Saint.
  • Florence.
    • Bargello. 139. Angel playing Viol.
    • Or San Michele. Tabernacle. Finished 1359.
  • Agram (Croatia).
    • Strossmayer Collection: Albertinelli, Fra Angelico, Bugiardini, Cosimo Rosselli.
  • Aix-en-Provence.
    • Musée: Alunno di Domenico.
  • Altenburg.
    • Lindenau Museum: Amico di Sandro, Fra Angelico, Lorenzo Monaco, Mainardi, Pesellino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino, Sellajo.
  • Amsterdam.

It is a temptation to hasten on from Pollaiuolo and Verrocchio to Botticelli and Leonardo, to men of genius as artists reappearing again after two generations, men who accomplished with scarcely an effort what their precursors had been toiling after.

Michelangelo had a sense for the materially significant as great as Giotto’s or Masaccio’s, but he possessed means of rendering, inherited from Donatello, Pollaiuolo, Verrocchio and Leonardo,—means that had been undreamt of by Giotto or even by Masaccio. Add to this that he saw clearly what before him had been felt only dimly, that there was no other such instrument for conveying material significance as the human nude. This fact is as closely dependent on the general conditions of realising objects as tactile values are on the psychology of sight.

1502(?)-1572. Pupil of Pontormo; influenced by Michelangelo.

  • Assisi.
    • S. Francesco, Lower Church, R. Transept. Frescoes: Eight Scenes from the Childhood of Christ.
  • Berlin.
    • 1074a. Crucifixion.
  • Florence.
    • Bargello Chapel. Fresco: Paradise (?). (Cf. also under B for assistance rendered by C.)

At the risk of seeming to wander off into the boundless domain of æsthetics, we must stop at this point for a moment to make sure that we are of one mind regarding the meaning of the phrase “artistic pleasure,” in so far at least as it is used in connection with painting.

What is the point at which ordinary pleasures pass over into the specific pleasures derived from each one of the arts? Our judgment about the merits of any given work of art depends to a large extent upon our answer to this question.

1422-1457. Pupil possibly of his grandfather, Giuliano Pesello; follower of Fra Angelico, Masaccio and Domenico Veneziano, but chiefly of Fra Filippo Lippi.

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