Module 4: General Reading and Video Questions (10 points total):
The answers for these questions can be found in your readings and videos. Each answer should be at least five sentences long and answer all parts of the question.
1. Who was Verrocchio in relation to Leonardo and how might he have influenced the younger artist?
2. Leonardo is often considered a “man ahead of his time.” What is meant by this? Discuss some examples of where he shows us his progressive, ahead-of-his-time nature.
3. Leonardo loved to experiment. Give one example of where we see this in his art and/or life.
4. The High Renaissance takes place primarily in Rome. What was going on in Rome that encouraged or fueled the High Renaissance?
5. Who is Pope Julius II and what is his role in the High Renaissance?
6. How does the role/status of the artist change in the High Renaissance?
7. Bramante’s Tempietto is often called the “perfect High Renaissance building.” Why? What characteristics of the structure support this idea?
8. How is High Renaissance art different from Early Renaissance art? Be specific in your answer and use examples.
9. Why is the Mona Lisaan important painting?
10. How might Bramante’s design for St. Peter’s reflect basic ideas of the Christian faith?
Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in the small town of Vinci, about an hour’s drive today from the city of Florence. He was born only seven years after Botticelli, and most of his greatest artistic achievements were either completed or well under way by the beginning of the 16th century (1500-1600) and yet art historians often view Leonardo as an artist of the High Renaissance, a relatively short period of artistic production usually defined between 1500-1520 (see below for a discussion of the High Renaissance). So Leonardo is essentially a transitional artist—chronologically of the Early Renaissance but artistically of the High Renaissance. The reason Leonardo is often thought of as an artist of the High Renaissance rather than the Early Renaissance is because Leonardo was a man ahead of his own time, not only in painting, sculpture, and architecture, but also in engineering, military science, botany, anatomy, geology, geography, hydraulics, aerodynamics, and optics. Leonardo wanted to know about everything—how it worked and why. And for Leonardo the human eye was the final authority—he had to see something with his own eyes to truly believe it. To this end he filled page after page with drawings, observations, and scientific studies. Long ago these various bits and pieces were gathered together in what are collectively referred to as Leonardo’s “notebooks.” Many of the things he makes observations of would not be systematized into a coherent body of theory for decades or even centuries. Many of his inventions would not be built until 400 years later (like a flying machine or an underwater breathing apparatus). His anatomical studies, taken from looking at actual corpses (dissection was against the teachings of the Church and his studies got him into trouble), were more advanced than any kind of medicine at the time.
Leonardo believed, like many of the Renaissance artists and Humanists, that everything in the universe was governed by the order and precision of geometry. Geometry was a big part of Leonardo’s artistic compositions and can be seen in works like theLast Supper, the Mona Lisa, and his famous drawing called the Vitruvian Man. In the Vitruvian Man an image of a human figure with arms and legs outstretched to touch both a circle and a square is based on a passage from the ancient Roman writer Vitruvius— Leonardo was deeply connected to the ideas of the Humanists having been trained in Florence in the workshop of Verrocchio and having connections with some of the leading Humanist families in Florence like the Medici.
Another thing that Leonardo was really good at was reading the writing on the wall. At the end of the 15th century, as I discussed in Module 3, Florence was experiencing upheaval and unrest. Leonardo could see that this was going to lead to bad things, so in 1481 he left Florence for Milan to work for Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. In a letter written to the Duke as a kind of Renaissance “job application,” Leonardo sold himself first and foremost as an engineer, and only at the end of his letter did he mention that he could paint. Given this letter that almost wholly eliminates reference to the artist’s ability as an artist, it is ironic that one of the few things that we have from Leonardo’s time in Milan is a painting, and not just any painting but one of the most famous paintings in art history – theLast Supper. Between 1495 and 1498 Leonardo worked, at the request of the Duke, on his experimental image of one of the most significant moments in Christianity. Be sure to read the article on the history and tradition of this image that is assigned for this module. Leonardo remained in Milan until 1499, when it became clear that Milan was soon to be invaded by French forces and it was time to get out of town. Leonardo would spend the rest of his life moving from place to place, returning to Florence for a brief period to paint the Mona Lisa, and ultimately ending up at the court of the French King, Francis I. Leonardo died in the service of the French king in 1519.
The short period of the High Renaissance saw the artistic center of activity shift from the city of Florence, which had dominated during the Early Renaissance, to Rome, where strong popes of the Catholic Church oversaw a rebuilding of Rome to its former ancient glory, not the least by commissioning artists like Michelangelo, Bramante, and Raphael to bring new artistic energy to the city. These High Renaissance artists drew on the developments of the Early Renaissance—like using perspective to create illusion, using chiaroscuro to define forms, and placing greater emphasis on the real world – and perfected them, creating a well-observed yet idealized representation of the natural world that humans inhabited. Basically, they took the real world and elevated to a new level of perfection.
One of the most important figures of the time was a man named Pope Julius II. Julius was a member of the important Della Rovere family and had been trained as a Humanist before becoming Pope. His greatest desire was to bring the city of Rome, which had once been the capital of the ancient Roman Empire, back to its former glory but then as the center of the Christian world. His many projects required considerable financing which was supplied through military campaigns designed to bring more land and resources into the possession of the Church (Julius was known as the “warrior pope” because he was personally involved in these campaigns). Julius also brought money in through the selling of indulgences – a way of assuring that your soul after death would not sit in purgatory (limbo) but would proceed straight to heaven – for a price. This practice of selling indulgences will become a major issue in the Church and will be one of several reasons behind a call for reform of the Church that will lead to the Protestant Reformation (of the sixteenth century. Julius may not have always acted like we would expect a pope to (he had several mistresses and illegitimate children in addition to killing people in battle and selling indulgences) but he was really the one person responsible for the numerous amazing buildings (like Bramante’s churchofSt. Peter’s) and works of art (like Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling and Raphael’s School of Athens) that characterized the High Renaissance.
The architect Donato Bramante was introduced to Leonardo’s ideas while growing up in Milan during the time that Leonardo was working in the city. One of Leonardo’s projects during that time was a treatise on architecture. In particular, Leonardo argued for a central plan for church architecture (a structure with a central core, circular or square, surrounded by even extensions off of the central space) since theologically, the circle, without beginning or end, was considered symbolic of the perfection of God. Centrally planned structures had been build in the ancient world but in the 15th and 16th centuries the centrally planned structure had made a comeback as a reflection of the Humanist synthesis of the ancient with Christian symbolism. Bramante took Leonardo’s ideas with him when Bramante, like Leonardo, fled Milan and went to Rome in 1499 when the French invaded Milan. Bramante put these ideas to use in two of his greatest contributions to the city of Rome, the Tempietto and the plans for the new St. Peter’s.
We will discuss the other two great artists of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo and Raphael, in our next module.Toward the High Renaissance: Verrocchio and Leonardo
Verrocchio’s David at the High. Verrocchio and Leonardo, Baptism of Christ. Inside the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper. Bruce Cole, Leonardo and Tradition, p.73-79 (PDF) Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa. MuseeLouvre. Donato Bramante, Tempietto
Donato Bramante, Saint Peter’s Basilica. AND HERE THE PDF READING
Please answer both of the following questions. The answers, at least one page long, should be written in essay form and should address all parts of the question. Be sure to cite sources if you are borrowing directly or quoting something from something you have read or seen in the assigned material. Also, be sure to provide examples of works of art from the material, if requested.
1. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man and Bramante’s Tempietto are both considered classic examples of Italian High Renaissance art. Working with the standard assumption that different examples of a style have similar characteristics, discuss these two works in terms of the things that they have in common. Pay particular attention to aspects of design and composition, connections to antiquity, and general message.
2. Discuss the composition of Leonardo’s Last Supper. What did Leonardo do in this work that was new and different from previous versions of the subject, and how did these changes affect the dramatic impact of the work? (This question is based specifically on the assigned reading by Cole (pdf), but your answers should also consider information discussed in the other assigned readings and videos about Leonardo’s Last Supper).
* ALSO THERE IS AN analysis BUT SHOULD BE IN different PAPER THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR IT IS HERE:
The video Inside the Mind of Leonardo da Vinci is a docu-drama of the life of the person who is arguably the most famous artist of all time. Your paper assignment is to pretend that you are a film reviewer and you are asked to write a review of the film in which you discuss and evaluate both the information that the film provides and the manner or manners that are used by the director to present this information and the larger subject of Leonardo and his life. This is a two-page paper and the only source you need is the film itself. That said, you should make at least two references to the aspects of the film in your review.