AlbertipartII

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Alberti On Painting
Book Two
Alberti begins Book Two by making an appeal to his readers that
painting is not merely a craft, but is an intellectual art of the
highest importance.
Alberti On Painting
Book Two
Alberti begins Book Two by making an appeal to his readers that
painting is not merely a craft, but is an intellectual art of the
highest importance.
How does Alberti use ancient rhetoric to make this claim about
painting?
1. Ethos:
“Painting contains a divine force” (63)
“Painting was given the highest honor by our ancestors” (64)
“The most noble citizens, philosophers and quite a few kings
not only enjoyed painting things but also painted with their
own hands” (65)
2. Logos:
Painting is the master art because “All the smiths, sculptors,
shops, and guilds are governed by the rules and art of the
painter. It is scarcely possible to find any superior art which
is not concerned with painting, so that what ever beauty is
found can be said to be born of painting” (64).
3. Pathos:
Alberti appeals to the painter’s sense of pride by using
triumphant vocabulary.
“Painting contributes to the most honorable delights of the soul
and dignified beauty of things” (63).
“Painting contains within itself this virtue that any master
painter who sees his works adored will feel himself considered
another god” (64).
In Book II, Alberti also establishes the Three Elements of
Painting (68).
Three Elements of Painting
1. Circumspection
2. Composition
3. Representation of the reception of light
What is Circumspection? (68-70)
Woodcut illustration by Albrecht
Dürer,1538
Three Elements of Painting
1. Circumspection
2. Composition
3. Representation of the reception of light
What is Circumspection?
•Drawing, “guiding an outline with a line” (68).
•The veil is the important tool for this process: “Paintings which
appear in good relief and a good likeness of the subject should
be expected. This I do not believe can ever be done without the
use of the veil” (69).
•Good circumspection (linear perspective) is what gives the
painting the sense that it is a window onto a 3D world, not a 2D
surface.
What is Composition? (70-81)
Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512
What is Composition?
•Composition is the “rule in painting by which the parts fit
together” (70).
•Achieving powerful istoria is the key goal of composition: “the
greatest work of the painter is the istoria” (70).
Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512
What is the representation of the reception of light? (81-85)
•The use of black and white, and color.
•“Copiousness and variety of colors greatly add to the pleasure
and fame of a painting. But I should like the [highest level of
attainment] in industry and art to rest, as the learned maintain,
on knowing how to use black and white” (82).
Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512
Review of What Makes Good Istoria (72-81)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Planes
Proportions
Appropriateness/Dignity
Copiousness/Variety
Movement of the Soul
Raphael, La Belle
Jardinière, 1507
What Would Alberti Say?
Does this
painting have
good istoria?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Planes
Proportions
Appropriateness/Dignity
Copiousness/Variety
Movement of the Soul
Charles le Brun
Entry of Alexander into Babylon
c. 1664
What Would Alberti Say?
Does this painting
have good istoria?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Planes
Proportions
Appropriateness/Dignity
Copiousness/Variety
Movement of the Soul
Claude Monet, Boulevard des
Capucines,1873
What Would Alberti Say?
Does this painting
have good istoria?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Planes
Proportions
Appropriateness/Dignity
Copiousness/Variety
Movement of the Soul
Pablo Picasso, Les
Demoiselles D’Avignon,
1907
What Would Alberti Say?
Does this painting
have good istoria?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Planes
Proportions
Appropriateness/Dignity
Copiousness/Variety
Movement of the Soul
Raoul Hassman, ABCD, 1923-24
Alberti’s Book III is a little like a “how to” book, with Alberti offering
many tips to his painter readers to guide them to professional
success and respect.
Alberti Book III
In Book III, Alberti tells his readers what kind of education a
painter should have.
“I would be delighted if the painter…should be a good and
learned man in liberal arts” (89).
What are the elements of the type of education Alberti thinks a
painter should have?
Alberti Book III
What are the elements of the type of education Alberti thinks a
painter should have?
Knowledge of:
Geometry
Poetry
Rhetoric
Nature [Give birth in Beauty (92-93)]
Alberti Book III
•
Why does Alberti say that painters should associate (hang out with)
poets and orators? What part of the painter’s art will such conversation
improve? (pp. 90, 91)
• The association of painters with poets and orators is key to
Alberti’s humanist project of reorienting painting from the
handicrafts to the liberal arts. Poetic and rhetorical training in
particular will assist the painter in designing effective istorie. It
also helps the painter’s “invention,”another term borrowed from
classical rhetoric, where it refers to the process of finding
something to say, derived from the Latin invenire, to fnd. For
more on rhetorical invention, see
http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Canons/Invention.htm
Alberti Book III
• How should the painter go about making beautiful images of
women?
• Alberti recommends that the painter create an ideal form of
beauty by distilling beautiful elements from multiple examples.
He is largely talking about representations of the female form,
and he is following an important Greek art fable in
recommending this procedure, which derives the ideal from
(multiple) reals. A nice demonstration of the principle is available
in the popular YouTube video, Women in Art.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUDIoN-_Hxs
Alberti Book III
• What is Alberti’s opinion of “copying” other paintings versus
“imitating” them? What’s the difference? Why is one not
encouraged, and the other a good thing? (pp. 94-95)?
• Alberti doesn’t think the artist learns much from simplying
copying another artist’s painting. Copying a sculptor is more
helpful because the painter has to translate from three
dimensions into two. Imitation is an idea drawn from classical
rhetoric and poetics. It refers not to copying, but to the systmetic
borrowing of principles and techniques in a new context (with
new subject matter, a different settting, etc.) For more on
rhetorical imtiatio, see
http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Pedagogy/Imitation.htm
Alberti Book III
• How should the painter respond to criticism? What are the main
sources of criticism? (pp. 97-98)
• Criticism is a good thing. The painter can learn from other
people’s responses (peer editing!!). Criticism can come from
other painters, or from the public.

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