This is a timely and elegant reissue of James Beck's classic study Italian Renaissance Painting, which covers the period from the 14th century and the work of Giotto to the mid-16th century and the art of Pontormo. It offers a detailed and comprehensive account of all the most significant artists of the period, including Masaccio, Pisanello, Botticelli, Bellini, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. However, Beck also offers what has become a highly influential way of defining the development of painting throughout the period into three distinct "generations".
According to Beck, the first generation, represented by figures such as Fra Filippo Lippi, Jacopo Bellini and Peiro della Francesca, made "spectacular discoveries at a decisive moment in the history of Western culture." Perspective, landscape, portraiture and narrative painting were established as "the cornerstones of official painting for the next four centuries." The second generation, represented by Gentile Bellini, Mantegna, Carpaccio and Leonardo "began to analyse and refine the new linear and aerial perspectives; they more systematically and doggedly studied human anatomy; they modified and combined inventions of the previous decades and sought more rigorous solutions to problems raised during the first generation." The third, triumphant generation of Michelangelo, Giorgione, Raphael, Titian and Pontormo, focusing primarily on paint as a medium of expression, were sublimely "confident of their artistic language, having had the advantage of experience: The body of works produced by two generations of talented painters." Beck also distinguishes within these three generations two specific currents of representation: The lyric and the monumental, the former emphasising "gracefulness, elegance and refinement of forms", the latter portraying "gravity of forms, a volumetric three-dimensional insistence upon which the figures take up space in a convincing stage-like environment." Whilst this is not a hard and fast distinction, on this basis Beck defines Pisanello, Botticelli and Correggio as lyrical and Masaccio, Mantegna and Titian as monumental. Within this framework, Beck offers incisive, readable accounts of key works, as well as a very useful glossary and bibliography. The whole book is wonderfully illustrated with 450 colour illustrations covering 50 artists; the reissue of Italian Renaissance Painting confirms its status as a classic account of Renaissance art. --Jerry Brotton
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Book Description Joanna Cotler Books, 1982. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1st. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0064303829