Painting in the Age of Giotto: A Historical Reevaluation
A revisionist interpretation of early Renaissance painting.Painting in the Age of Giotto is a revisionist account of central Italian painting in the period 1260 to 1370. The study is the first to discuss Giorgio Vasari's account of the "first age" of the Renaissance in his "Lives" and the character of the historiographical tradition that arose from that account. In opening the tradition to closer scrutiny, Hayden Maginnis explains the origins of many modern views regarding the period and the persistence of critical strategies and conventions that do not correspond to the historical realities.Those realities are discussed in a return to the evidence of surviving works of art and in an exploration of stylistic trends that define regional currents in central Italian art. In an examination of the "new art" of the fourteenth century, Maginnis discovers not only that naturalism as an artistic ambition was remarkably short-lived but also that its chief exponents were the painters of Siena, rather than the painters of Florence. His detailed analysis of Giotto's work demonstrates that his art belonged to quite another trend.By the fourth decade of the Trecento, the character of central Italian painting was growing ever more diverse. Painters quite consciously began to explore artistic alternatives to naturalism, thereby introducing "notable disturbances in the classification of Tuscan Trecento painting" and providing a foundation for developments toward the mid-century. Through a reexamination of the historical and art-historical evidence related to painting immediately after the plague of 1348, Maginnis demonstrates that the central thesis of Millard Meiss's brilliant Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death, until now the standard interpretation of this period, is untenable, and offers a new interpretation of painting at mid-century.
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