9780300094343 / 0300094345

Renaissance Rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian


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Publisher:Yale University Press, 2002



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About the book:

For the great Renaissance masters, the creation of art was not only an intellectual or aesthetic exercise. It was a contest. The artists of 16th-century Italy knew each other's work, knew each other's patrons, and knew each other - sometimes as friends and colleagues, sometimes as enemies, but always as rivals. This volume views the lives and greatest works of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Titian through the prism of their ardent rivalry. Rona Goffen, scholar of the Italian Renaissance, seeks to bring the artists to life in this account of their impassioned strivings to outdo both living competitors and the masters of antiquity. Rivalry was the leitmotif of the Renaissance masters' careers, Goffen shows, and Michelangelo's art was their competitive point of reference. Quoting from poems, letters, treatises, contracts, and other contemporary writings, the author demonstrates the extent to which artists, as well as their patrons and colleagues, characteristically thought about art in the context of rivalry. Renaissance patrons often stipulated in contracts with artists that their commissions be more beautiful than works made for other patrons. The artists themselves, motivated sometimes by the immediate and pragmatic advantages of patronage and at other times by the hope of immortal fame, competed for commissions ranging from highly public projects at the Vatican to small works intended for the intimate setting of a collector's study. These masters conceived their works in dialogue with each other's inventions, evoking their rivals' ideas precisely with the intention of surpassing them. Goffen brings into sharp focus the immediacy, intensity and complexity of artistic rivalry among the Renaissance masters, recovering for us the emotional and professional circumstances that brought about their magnificent creations.

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