Research & Painter Review – Caravaggio

This post started out being a painting review of The Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio but ended out being a wider ranging research piece on Caravaggio which could be used as preparation for assignment 3.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 - 1610 The Supper at Emmaus 1601 Oil and tempera on canvas, 141 x 196.2 cm Presented by the Hon. George Vernon, 1839 NG172
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 – 1610
The Supper at Emmaus
Oil and tempera on canvas, 141 x 196.2 cm
Presented by the Hon. George Vernon, 1839

I saw this painting in my Gallery Visit (Room 32) and made very brief notes in that post (here). I didn’t really understand what I was looking at and although I’ve learnt a lot about 17th century art since then and seen references to Caravaggio (and this painting) in my reading, it could do with a closer look. Being so influential an artist I wanted to learn more about him specifically (and use him as one of the artists in the 500 word analysis in Assignment 3).

The first place to start in understanding this painting is the story behind is. Who is Emmaus and why do these guys with Jesus look so surprised?

On the day of the resurrection two of Christ’s disciples were going to a town called Emmaus.

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:15-24)

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24: 28-31)

So Caravaggio’s picture starts to make sense. This is the two disciples just discovering that they are sitting with a recently risen Christ as he blesses the bread. The man serving the table has not removed his hat, having no idea who this is (because he wasn’t at the last supper) but presumably would freak out when Chris just disappears (since he isn’t in the bible account he’s probably just been added as artifice to balance out the composition and the various expressions on the faces of the figures, “His impassiveness is a foil to the disciples’ bewilderment” (De Rynck, 2009)).

Caravaggio has broken with tradition here (as he did in many of his paintings) and represented the scene in a contemporary setting. The background is dark and vague on any details of the setting, the lighting is dramatic so the attention is focused on the scene. The disciple with his arms out (as though talking of the crucifixion) extends into the viewers space to draw us into the scene, hence the drastic foreshortening (I noted it as strange perspective on my gallery visit). Also, the shell on his coat is a scallop, a pilgrims emblem of Santiago de Compostela (named after St James). The fruit basket harkens back to Caravaggio’s still life painting days, critics have pointed out that pomegranates, grapes and figs are summery fruits so are out of place at Easter but apparently over ripened fruit (apples and decaying figs) stand for original sin, grapes (which make wine) and pomegranates are conventional symbols of the resurrection. This fruit hangs over the edge of the table also into our space begging to be pushed back on.

“The disciples look like country bumpkins on a pilgrimage.” (De Rynck, 2009)

Caravaggio painted another Christ resurrection story, one of Doubting Thomas, in 1603 called the Incredulity of Thomas. This one is smaller at only 107x146cm. Thomas is often depicted as a young man (Christ’s twin according to one of the legends but not one I heard in primary school), not so in this painting though. He has expressed doubt about Christ’s resurrection because he hasn’t seen it with his own eyes so Christ is building his finger into the spear wound he received on the Cross. The painting also includes Peter and John, also looking on with intense concentration and undisguised curiosity. Again, there is nothing extraneous to distract attention from the main scene. The figures heads are all clustered together in the centre of the composition but its the finger that gets your eyes attention making you want to lean into the space with them to see it.

He says “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25 which reflects the humanist mood of the times where empirical knowledge is the key to truth.

Incredulity of saint thomas,1603. Canvas 107x146 cm, Neues Palais, Potsdam.
Incredulity of saint thomas,1603. Canvas 107×146 cm, Neues Palais, Potsdam.

“Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29

As I noted in my gallery visit, all the reproductions of this painting seem a lot more gloomy than the original.

The Supper at Emmaus 1601, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, nAtional Gallery, London
The Supper at Emmaus
1601, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, National Gallery, London

You see it hangs next to another of Caravaggio’s works, Boy bitten by a Lizard (about 1594-5) which is an eariler work from when he’d just arrived in Rome as a nobody.


His short life story is extremely interesting and you can see how his art develops over the course of his career. The few primary sources about his life are mainly police/court reports and contemporary biographers writings. He is known to get into lots of trouble (hence the documented police reports) and sounds like a very volatile individual. His early training was a four year apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano (in Milan). He was originally from a town called Caravaggio (hence his name, his given name was Michelangelo Merisi). When he arrived in Rome he had nothing and he painted still lives and heads of people to sell in the street which was good training for his later years where he painted from live models which was not the custom in those days. You can see that the figures in The Supper at Emmaus are much more naturally proportioned than the Boy (with the lizard). Some art critics have suggested there is homoerotic undertones in this work, some think it is just a study of drama, the reaction of the boy, some others think it is an allegory on the pain of love (because the still life includes symbols of love).

The Cardsharps - Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) Italian (1571–1610) 16th century c. 1595 Oil on canvas 37 1/16 x 51 9/16 in. (94.2 x 130.9 cm) AP 1987.06
The Cardsharps – Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi)
Italian (1571–1610) 16th century
c. 1595, Oil on canvas
37 1/16 x 51 9/16 in. (94.2 x 130.9 cm), AP 1987.06

His work The Cardsharps, 1595, caught the eye of the influential Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte who offed him lodgings in his palazzo became his patron, and for whom he painted boy with lizard amongst others. This raised his profile in elite circles and he ended up having the opportunity to do his first public works for the Contarelli Chapel in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Rome in those days was the artistic center of Italy, artists came from all over Europeto see Classical buildings and famous works of art. He caused a bit of a sensation with his new style and became very famous (his fame spread across Europe) but it seemed that it went to his head and he continued to get into trouble with the police.

According to one of his biographers: ”after a fortnight’s work he will swagger about for a month or two with his sword at his side and with a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or argument, with the result that it is most awkward to get along with him”. (The sword was illegal – as with guns today, one had to have licence to carry arms.) Caravaggio was arrested repeatedly for, among other things, slashing the cloak of an adversary, throwing a plate of artichokes at a waiter, scarring a guard, and abusing the police. (National Gallery, 2016a)

In 1606 it all came to a head and he killed a man in an argument, Ranuccio Tomassoni, and had to flee Rome. He spent a short time in Naples then moved to Malta to join the order of the Knights of Malta in return for painting Beheading of St John the Baptist. He was holding out for a Pulpal pardon so he could return to Rome and induction into the order secured him high social standing. Unfortunately he got into trouble again, fighting with another knight, and got arrested. He escaped prison and went to Sicily. Eventually he did get his pardon so could return to Rome.

He loaded his belongings onto a ship but, for some unknown reason, was then arrested and had to buy his way out of jail. By the time he was released, the ship and all his possessions had sailed without him. As he made his way along the coast he fell ill, perhaps with malaria, and a few days later, alone and feverish, he died. (National Gallery, 2016a)

Biographers and news reports seem to disagree about exactly what killed him at aged 39. This report from the BBC suggests that researchers think he died of sunstroke while weakened by syphilis. On the same day in 2010, this article from the Guardian reports that they think he died of lead posioning from the paints! However they do also mention sunstroke.

Style & Technique

He is famous for the naturalism in his paintings (which wasn’t usual at the time) and for his use of light and dark – chiaroscuro. His religious works are lit dramatically by divine light and his saints look like ordinary people in ordinary contemporary settings (complete with dirty fingernails), the naturalism completely replacing the usual religious symbolism to such an extent prompting one observer to suggest that his Conversion of St. Paul looked like an accident in a blacksmiths shop. He used live models of local people which was also a new way of doing things, to draw from nature.

In between fights he found time to astound his contemporaries with his shocking realism and use of light and shade – chiaroscuro – although he won no favours with religious authorities in Rome when he reportedly used a famous prostitute as a model for the madonna. (The Guardian, 2010)

As a technique he painted directly on the canvas and no preparation drawings or sketches were found. Some researchers even suggest that evidence points to him using camera obscura techniques and chemicals to burn an initial image onto his canvas and sketch directly onto it with white lead paint and luminous barium sulphate in the dark! Its actually quite amazing.

I found this video from the National Gallery really interesting:

A recording of the National Gallery Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800, Letizia Treves, speaking about Caravaggio at a lunchtime talk.



BBC news. (2010) Church bones ‘belong to Caravaggio’, researchers say At:
(Accessed on 18 Aug 16)

BibleHub. (2016) Luke 24 At:
(Accessed on 14 Auguest 16)

De Rynck, P. (2009) Understanding Paintings: Bible Stories and Classical Myths in Art. Thames & Hudson

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Jones, J. (2002) ‘Boy Bitten by a Lizard, Caravaggio (1595-1600)’ In: The Guardian [online] At:
(Accessed on 14 Auguest 16)

Kimbell Art Museum. (2016) The Cardsharps At:
(Accessed on 17 Aug 16)

National Gallery. (2016a) Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio At:
(Accessed on 14 Aug 16)

National Gallery. (2016b) Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – The Supper at Emmaus At:
(Accessed on 14 Auguest 16)

National Gallery, YouTube. (2016) Caravaggio | You choose | The National Gallery, London At:
(Accessed on 18 Aug 16)

The Guardian. (2009) Was Caravaggio the first photographer? At:
(Accessed on 18 Aug 16)

The Guardian. (2010) The mystery of Caravaggio’s death solved at last – painting killed him At:
(Accessed on 18 Aug 16)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2001) Luke 24. Good News Publishers.

Video: Art of the Western World – Baroque

For this post I thought I’d put the two Baroque videos together:

Art of the Western World – Ep 9: Episode 9: The Birth of Baroque

The 9th in the series:

Art of the Western World – Ep 10: Episode 10: Masters of Baroque

The 10th in the series:

Essential Reading: 17th Century in Europe

Notes from WHA in prep for assignment 3:

1 Political, economic or social factors

The most momentous event of 17th century history was the rise of Dutch republic (where freedom of speculation could be practiced), which coincided with the decline of Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the end of 30 Years’ war which devastated Germany. Calvinism was overriding religion but others were tolerated. New prosperity was founded on free enterprise and worldwide maritime trade rather than agriculture. The aristocracy was replaced by upper classes consisting of bankers/merchants/manufacturers all with a desire to own art so easel painting contributed to Dutch economy. In England too, where the new parliamentary government was being accepted. The century heralded in great advances in science, philosophy and mathematics, techniques based on scepticism and trial and error (eg the time of Newton). Rome recovered from protestant reformation and was once again a centre for the arts. The first art academy was founded Florence in 1563 and in the 1580s. Carracci organised meetings of artists to free them from the craft guilds. Jean-Baptiste Colbert reformed the Parisian Academy of arts and crafts.

2 Changes to status or training of artists

The 17th Century saw art collecting & dealing grow with the growth of the academies, as did the popularity of easel painting as it was easily negotiable and transportable. Also, the subject of the paintings in demand from the various patrons differed, middle class households wanted landscapes and simple still lifes for example whereas Kings and Queens wanted portraits as propaganda pieces and the Counter Reformists wanted glorious Baroque epics. Artists under the patronage of the monarchy rose in prominence in society eg Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, and reflected this in their works eg Las Meninas by Velázquez. Both Dutch and Spanish artists worked towards getting their work to be elevated to the status of liberal art and away from the craft guilds for the status in society it provided, eg could be admitted to the ranks of nobility, they would be exempt from tax and military service etc. Rembrandt used 250 or more etchings to spread his fame across Europe, (including the famed hundred-guilder print).

3 Development of materials and processes

In the 17th C, the use of colour & light was heavily developed, the chiaroscuro technique was developed with expressions and contrapposto poses. Rubens made sketches from life but his final works were built from colour & light rather than line, allowing him to offload a lot of his commissions onto his assistants adding only the final touches. Claude Gellée/Lorraine spent many solitary hours with his sketchbooks observing different effects of natural light on the landscape. Jan Vermeer created extraordinary luminosity in his paintings by techniques based on optical experiments and meticulous observation of reflected colours, eg unique capture of sparkle light in minute pearl-like dots. In sculpture, Bernini’s use of colour in St Peter’s was unprecedented and he also developed a technique of carving portrait busts so the presence of the whole body was felt. Borromini’s innovative intersecting equilateral circles and triangles for S Ivo della Sapienza resulted in spatial unity without intervening elements or loss of variety or movement.

4 Styles and movements

Two artists breathed new life into Rome with their new styles in 17th C, Annibale Carracci (idealism), and Caravaggio (naturalism). Caravaggism spread to Italy, Spain, France, and Netherlands with illuminated figures against plain/dark backgrounds and naturalism that replaced symbolism. Only superficial differences define the distinction between Baroque and other 17th c styles such as those of the Naturalists, and the Classicists. High Baroque art usually has a set program that you can ‘read’, a dynamic and dramatic tension between naturalism & classicism, between light & dark, between illusion & reality and always movement. Some of the greatest European artists came from this period, Rubens, Poussin, Bernini, van Dyck, Velázquez and Rembrandt. The later, Louis XIV style, was Baroque style on steroids, flamboyant and rich to excess. The Classical landscape developed by Claude Gellée/Lorraine into one of highest art forms and an independent genre (outside of the netherlands) representing a pastoral world of a Classical Golden Age. In the Dutch republic, easel painting, driven by the demand for art dealing, promoted the development of many independent genres we know today, landscapes, seascapes, portraits, low-life scenes, still life etc. Rachel Ruysch was the first female artist to gain a major international reputation with her specialism in flower pieces.

5 Inside and outside influences

In the 17th Century artists continued to influence each other and finding inspiration from Antiquity, High renaissance artists and Venetian artists such a Titian. Flemish artists such as Rubans were influenced by Italian artists. Artists also took inspiration from Nature like never before. Caravaggio influenced artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi. The design of Versaille in France almost certainly influenced Sir Christopher Wren’s redesign for Hampton Court Palace. In France, the academy was very formally Classical but towards the end of the century voices raised in dissent admirers of Rubans contested the supremacy of Poussin, p606, and Dutch and Flemish work started to influence the path of french artists.

6 Critics, thinkers and historians

In the 17th Century there was a revolt against established thought and they were more experimental, starting with Francis Bacon (1561-1626). René Descartes, philosopher, mathematician and scientist wrote his Discourse on Method in 1637, “I think therefore I am”. Karel van Mander (1548-1606), painter and writer, wrote of Caravaggio works in Rome. Annibale Carracci’s work (1560-1609) provided basis for all academic teaching for next to centuries substituting for the Neoplatonic metaphysical ‘Idea’. Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-96) was an influential art theorist and biographer of Carracci, claimed he rescued art from the Mannerists and criticised Caravaggio. Charles-Alphonse Dufresnoy (1611-68) , Charles Lebrun (1619-90) and André Félibien (1619-95) all supplemented Bellori’s lectures on ‘Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects’. Francisco Pacheco (1564-1654) was an inspector of art for the Inquisition of Seville the most important spanish art writer of the time (and father in law to Velázquez). Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687) was a Dutch Calvinist and writer. Samuel van Hoogstraten was a Dutch painter and art theorist.


re my previous reflection on the chapter for the 15th & 16th century, I think I’ve done much better with this chapter, the notes are much more concise, I hope I haven’t missed out anything important.


Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Video: 16th Century Renaissance

Art of the Western World – Ep 6: Episode 6: The Northern Renaissance

The 6th in the series:

Art of the Western World – Ep 7: Episode 7: Heroic Ambitions

The 7th in the series: the High Renaissance

Art of the Western World – Ep 8: Episode 8: The Play of Light

The 8th in the series: The Renaissance in Venice


I found these videos very helpful in setting the scene on the 16th century. The chapter in WHA is very long and I read it in tiny chunks. These videos I was able to watch a few times to consolidate what I’d been reading about.

Essential Reading: 16th Century in Europe

Notes from WHA in prep for assignment 3:

1 Political, economic or social factors

In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation called into question teachings and practice of the Catholic Church, the invention of printing allowed the spread of information amongst the masses. Plague and sickness were seen as punishment for sin. Large devotional donations were made for the sake of the soul by wealthy men. In Germany, new urban culture developed on the recovery of trade and industry after the Black Death. Protestant art started appearing after the Peasants War (against the landed nobility and higher clergy) of 1524-6. Partoniage declined and artists and sculptors were forced to take up other occupations or emigrate, including famously, Hans Holbein the Younger who moved the England to the court of Henry VIII. Across Europe, war, riots and political stress broke out as countries struggled to accept of reject Lutheranism and later the Counter Reformation. In Italy, a highly turbulent period spawned the High renaissance, Florence passed from republic to autocratic rule of the Medici and back to republic again, northern Italy was twice invaded by France, the Papacy struggled with extending its power and Rome was sacked in 1527 by German and Spanish Mercenaries. Venice remained richer than any other city in Italy by resisting political and economic domination, trading with Asia and retaining a republic system of government. Venetian patricians turned to farmers to keep economic independence from the north. Patronage in Venice was by both state and private but not so much the church. By this time, patrons and art collectors had become savvy connoisseurs looking to collect new artworks that demonstrated their artistic knowledge, good taste and religious understanding. Three main artists emerged but did not form a group, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) and Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio 1483-1520). All religious art of the Counter Reformation era was scrutinized in being in strict accordance with the decrees of the Council of Trent to eliminate any imagery which might be misconstrued as profane, pagan or heretical, for example Michelangelo’s Last Judgement was condemned. El Greco was the last great artist of this period. Strong supporters of the Counter Reformation and in a period of rapid expansion, the Spanish emerged as the leading power of the latter part of the 16th century.


2 Changes to status or training of artists

In the 16th Century, for the first time artists took their place among the great minds of the age. All the top regarded Artists were Italian (except Dürer) and their art and career details spread by printed accounts across Europe. They were highly sort after by Kings and Popes alike. This change is status is also as a result of Alberti’s treatise on architecture, painting and sculpture, meaning that visual arts could be liberal arts and artists weren’t just artists anymore, their other accomplishments were taken into account. Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist and daring experimental thinker, Michelangelo was a poet, and Raphael was an architect. Only Venetian artist Titian (1490-1576) seem to have no other notable claims to fame. Da Vinci’s thoughts on great minds (see below) “presuppose that ‘art’ is much more than ‘craft’ and lead directly to the notion of a great artist as ‘a genius’” p466. Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling was a commission which demonstrates the rising status of the artist through the idea of artistic license (the pope let him do what he wanted). In Germany, the woodcarvers gained recognition of craft and belonged to the middle ranking of society, were members of guilds, with one, Tilman Riemenschneider, becoming mayor of Wurzburg. Titian maintained his independence turning down offers from Popes and Kings and made himself the most sort after artists in Europe, so much so he could work largely for who he wished and on what he wished. “The contrast between his career and that of the constantly thwarted and disappointed Michelangelo is poignot” p490


3 Development of materials and processes

The 16th century saw new techniques of pictorial representation, invented or perfected by da Vinci. Chiaroscuro (effect of light and dark to create effect of relief or modelling), sfumato (misty, soft blending of colours), hazy atmospheric effects, indicating distance by grading tones and muting of colours. He was the first to draw anatomically correct figures (from dissecting corpses)! The Contrapposto principle was also developed to convey even more natural poses which contribute to overall rhythm of compositions. eg Fra Bartolommeo, Carondelet Altarpiece. The idea of Harmonious unity developed which inspired architects as well as painters. Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican use contrasting colours to create an animating pattern but the great innovation in them is the relationship of the figures to their architectural context (conceived after the arrangement of the figures). He invented the relaxed ¾ length and ¾ face pose for portraits (later developed by Titian). Whilst painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo innovatively solved the problems with painting curved surfaces. He also started the process of making full sized models mostly carved by assistants, added finishing touches himself, a process used for next four centuries. Giorgione (1476-1510) was the first artist to explore luminous effect of oil painting on canvas as opposed to wood but it was Titian who really exploited the possibilities it presented for the first time using vigorous brush strokes on the rough texture of the canvas. Titian had a new attitude to painting displayed in new techniques of bold, heavily loaded brush strokes and smudges, finishing paintings with highlights and smudging to tone down contrasts.   Venetian Renaissance Architects solved the problem of adding a Classical temple into a church with Andrea Palladio’s design for S Georgio Maggiore. He also designed mathematical harmoniously proportioned private villas. Contrapposto was developed further by 16th century sculptors.  

4 Styles and movements

In the 16th Century the Italian Renaissance spread north and was gradually accepted in Northern Europe but co-existed with Gothic in early in the century (e.g. Tomb of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey). Gothic styles, Perpendicular, in England and Flamboyant style in France, persisted until mid to late 16th century.

In the Netherlands Jan van Eyck’s legacy lived on, although Hieronymous Bosch (Jeroen van Aken 1450-1516) had a unique style with disturbing and creative visions. Protestant art reflected Lutheran ideas, and in protestant countries there was demand for portraits of the reformers, provided by artists such as Holbein the Younger, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Dürer. Albrecht Altdorfer painted the earliest landscapes, devoid of figures of narrative content, they were a new kind of religious picture. In Italy, the High Renaissance came into being from turmoil with art of serene and elevated conception, of great but controlled energy and above all classical balance. p466. This style is characterised by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. In sculpture, the figure of David by Michelangelo was the first nude to be sculpted such a large scale since antiquity but not in an entirely Classical style. In Architecture, da Vinci experimented with designs for a free standing church which is centrally planned with a hemispherical dome crowning it, which was realised by his friend Bramante in the Tempietto, Rome. In this amazing period, the Mona Lisa (Leonardo), the Stanza della Segnatura (Raphael) and the Sistine chapel (Michelangelo) were all painted. In Venice, a contemporary of Raphael, Giorgione’s work emphasised the mystery and magic of the Renaissance style but lacked the rationality of it. Another rising Venetian star of the period was Titian. Later came the Mannerist style, associated with generation of artists after the fab three, it has been defined as the antithesis of naturalism, later art historians have interpreted this style as an intentional deviation from the previous generation. Notable artists associated with this style are Tintoretto, Correggio and Parmigianino.

5 Inside and outside influences

In the 16th Century, German painter Grünewald, Mathis Gothardt Neithardt (d 1528), painted a very violent, tortured crucifixion, the Isenheim Altarpiece, inspired by the mystical writings St Bridget of Sweden, but also perhaps inspired by the inhabitants of the monastery’s hospital for skin diseases. Humanism continues to influence artists across Europe, additionally Lutheranism. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael influenced each other and everyone else. Michelangelo was influenced by Neoplatonism. Titian was influenced by literary texts such as Ovid for his works for Philip II. Two young Venetians, Tintoretto and Veronese were influenced by the colouring of Titian and the drawing of Michelangelo in the 1550s.

6 Critics, thinkers and historians

Notable humanist Desiderius Erasmus is said to have ‘laid the egg that Luther hatched’ WHA p.458. Leonardo da Vinci, had thousands of unpublished pages of illustrated notes on artistic theory, human anatomy, natural history and many other topics. He wrote “Great minds often produce more by working less, for with their intellect they search for conceptions and form those perfect ideas which afterwards they merely express with their hands”. P466 He was independent of classical and medieval thought, the first thinker to be so. Imitation of Christ possibly by Thomas a Kempis was a work of anti-worldly and anti-intellectual piety. Translated and printed in four languages is said to have had almost as much influence a the contemporary vernacular translations of bible. Architect and writer, Palladio, published his own book where he wrote about Bramante’s work in Rome and the initiation of new phase of Renaissance architecture. Luca Landucci’s journal on art was one of the most influential of its time.


re my previous reflection on the chapter for the 15th century, this is better but still I think I’ve written too much again.


Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing