Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy

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Andrea Bayer, Mina Gregori, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004 - Art - 257 pages
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Largely as a result of Leonardo's innovative work for the Sforza court in Milan, a rich vein of naturalism developed in North Italian art during the late fifteenth century. Questioning the strongly classicizing, idealized style dominant in areas south of the Apennines, artists in the region of Lombardy turned to an investigation of the natural world based on direct observation and adherence to strict visual truth. This heritage of realism continued to be of key importance for more than two hundred years, finding its greatest expression in the art of Caravaggio and eventually influencing the course of Baroque painting throughout Europe. Religious scenes, portraits, and landscapes were all transformed by this new naturalism, which also spurred an interest in still lifes and genre scenes as subjects for paintings. Painters of Reality, titled after an influential exhibition held in Milan more than fifty years ago, is the first study in English of this major aspect of Italian art. Reexamining the subject in light of copious subsequent scholarship, the authors of this volume contribute major essays that define and discuss naturalism as it appeared in both Lombard paintings and drawings. There is also a fresh consideration of the Northern Italian predecessors whose influence is apparent, either directly or indirectly, in the paintings of Caravaggio. More detailed discussions of the subject center on the precise elements that constituted Leonardo's "hypernaturalism"; the important schools of painting that arose in Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, and Milan; and Caravaggio's most notable successors in northern Italy, who kept Lombard realism alive into the eighteenth century. Map, artists' biographies, bibliography, and index are also included. -- Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

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