UNL Art History 102 Exam 2: Terms and Concepts
Terms in this set (35)
Microcosm and Macrocosm
The idea, of great interest to Leonardo da Vinci, that the human body (microcosm--i.e., small world) and the universe (macrocosm--i.e., large world) mirror one another in various ways. As Leonardo would state in some of his writings, the rivers that nourish the land are like the arteries that carry blood through the body, the stones of the earth are like bones, etc.
A statue or painting that is at least three times life-size. Colossi (pl. of colossus) were considered to be great examples of difficultà; in Roman antiquity a colossus was also considered an example of "audacia"-- audacity, or daring--referring to the courage necessary to undertake such a task.
The capacity to inspire awe; awesomeness. The word may be used to describe a facial expression, a work of art, or even an artist. It is related to the ancient style category of the sublime, and is especially notable in the works of Michelangelo.
A quick or "messy" drawing in which an artist sets down his first thoughts for a figure or composition. Leonardo da Vinci created sketches in which he would draw over the initial image, creating various alternative poses for limbs, and in the end creating almost a kind of "chaos", out of which he would choose his final ideas. In doing this--rather than working out the perfect pose first in his mind--he externalizes the process of his imagination.
process over product (Leonardo)
The act of becoming, the process of making the art was more important than the final product
virtue of difficulty (Michelangelo)
loved challenging himself and showing others how good he was
triumph of emulation (Raphael)
made own style through studying old art
A type of plan in which all parts radiate from a central point. These plans may be circular (as seen below), or maybe equal-armed (i.e., Greek) crosses (as seen in Bramante's and Michelangelo's plans for new S. Peter's).
A schema derived from the writings of the ancient Roman architectural theorist Vitruvius (see text) in which a perfectly proportioned human body touches (in various positions) the outlines of a square and a circle.
This was illustrated a number of times in the Renaissance, most famously by Leonardo da Vinci (see below), during his years in Milan. It is thought that Leonardo's interest in Vitruvian proportion was influential on Donato Bramante, whose service at the Milanese court overlapped that of Leonardo.
Greek Cross Plan
A particular type of central plan church in which the transept crosses the nave at its midpoint, and is the same length as the nave.
Literally, a serpentine figure; used to describe the human figure twisting on its axis; the shoulders and hips of a figura serpentinata consequently occupy different planes. This type of pose--perfected by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo--was especially favored by artists in the High Renaissance and Mannerist periods.
to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura which conceals all artistry and makes whatever one says or does seem uncontrived and effortless.
Oil on canvas
While most fourteenth- and fifteenth-century easel paintings used wooden supports, sixteenth century Venetian painters often used canvas as a support. Venetian canvases were often of a particularly coarse weave, and artists such as Giorgione did not attempt to hide the surface texture of the support.
An Italian word meaning both drawing and design. It was strongly associated with central Italian art (i.e., works by artists trained in Tuscany), especially that of Michelangelo. Art that possessed good design was generally believed to be the result of much preliminary drawing.
Literally "colored" or "painted" (the Italian verb colorire = to paint). The word describes the application of paint, and was used to characterize works by Venetian artists such as Giorgione or Titian. While for a central Italian artist such as Michelangelo, the "imaginative" part of painting (and the proper time for experimentation) was during the process of making a preliminary drawing (disegno), for the Venetians, the actual application of paint was a crucial stage in the creative process, and they sometimes changed a composition while they were painting it.
Paint applied thickly, so that brushstrokes are evident on the paint surface. A method of oil painting associated with 16th-century Venetian artists such as Titian, it is also seen in artists of later centuries who emulated Titian (see images below).
The term literally means repentance--as in regreting one's decision, and changing what one has done. In painting this refers to artists' decision to change some part of their painting, and covering the original area with a new layer of paint. This may be discovered by technical examination--for instance an x-ray of the work, which can reveal various layers of paint under the final surface. It can also become visible to the naked eye when the final layer of paint becomes more transparent over time, revealing the painter's original ideas. This is most often seen in works by Venetian oil painters (see the detail from Titian's Pesaro Altarpiece at left), since they tended to rely less on preliminary drawings to work out the details of figures and overall composition. It is also seen in works by later artists who emulate the techniques of Venetian painters
Artifice simply means anything made by art--i.e, by human hands rather than by nature. It can be used as a term of praise, in the sense of craftsmanship or artfulness, but it can also carry the negative meaning of something false or contrived (the "-fice" part of the word comes from the same Latin root as does the word fiction; that term too carries a double meaning--both something made, and something made-up).
All works of art are the product of artifice, but the artist can either choose to make the viewer aware of the art that went into its making, or choose to make it look natural by hiding that artifice. Recall the opinion expressed by Baldassare Castiglione in Part One, on sprezzatura: the best art is that which hides its own artifice. While we could see that in some ways as a formula followed by artists of the High Renaissance, Mannerism is a style period known for its conscious display of artifice. For the artists who made the art, and for the patrons who bought their art, Mannerism was thus an artful style, but for later critics of the art, it could be seen as artificial.
Maniera is the Italian word for style. Used in reference to art style usually means a characteristic way of doing things that is the hallmark of a particular artist or period. Yet the term can also apply to a sort of absolute quality of fashion or elegant comportment--as in "he really has style." Mannerism is an artistic period whose style is characterized by style. It is, in other words, the "stylish style." Like the term artifice and maniera can have both positive and negative meaning, for while Mannerist artists might see their products as "stylish," later critics might view them as "mannered."
The idea, modeled on the ancient notion of "poetic license", that the artist has the freedom to do what he wishes in a work of art--i.e., to follow his own imagination and taste rather than depend on norms of nature or decorum or tradition. This quality is associated with Mannerism, and artists such as Michelangelo were sometimes taken to task for it by counter-reformation critics.
According to ancient medical doctrine (still largely followed in the Renaissance), just as the earth was made up of four elements (fire, air, water, earth), so the human body was made up of four "humors": blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Good health was largely dependant on keeping these humors in balance, and the preponderance of one particular humor over the others in a person was thought to explain his or her temperament: the melancholic person had too much black bile, the sanguine (passionate) person too much blood, the phlegmatic (sluggish) person too much phlegm, and the choleric (bad-tempered) person too much yellow bile. Certain animals were thought to be representative of these humors and temperaments as well: the elk was a melancholic beast, the rabbit a sanguine one, the cat choleric, and the ox phlegmatic. Albrecht Dürer made use of this animal symbolism in his engraving of Adam and Eve.
Artist from northern Europe who journeys to Rome in order to study and learn from both ancient and modern Italian art. There is in Romanism an implicit assumption that the art of the Greco-Roman classical tradition is superior to local Northern artistic traditions.
Generic painting." A type of painting that is not based on any particular text, but rather depicts a scene apparently taken from everyday life. This category of subject matter began to be popular in the 16th century, and spread from Northern Europe to Italy.
Also known as the "Protestant Reformation." A series of reform movements in Western Christendom beginning around 1515-20, which eventually led to a break with the Catholic church. Although the Papacy attempted to put a stop to these movements through tools such as the Inquisition (begun in Italy in 1542 to prosecute heretics) and the Council of Trent (begun in 1545 to institute certain internal reforms), the various protestant movements (e.g., Lutheranism, Calvinism, the Church of England) were immensely successful in numerous Northern European centers.
A term used to describe the art of the 17th century, generally speaking. The word derives from the Portuguese "barocco," used to describe pearls of uneven size or unusual shape. (that term may in turn derive from the Latin word verruca, meaning wart). It was originally applied to 17th-century art in a derogatory manner, by late 18th-century critics who found the irregular shapes and dramatic patterns of light and dark seen in the work of artists like Borromini or Bernini to be too far removed from the balanced, "rational" ideals of classicism.
Literally, "darkness" or"shadowiness" (from Latin word tenebrae=darkness); a term used to describe paintings in which there is a preponderance of darkness. This is found especially in the work of Caravaggio, who often placed a partially (if brightly) lit figure or figures in an otherwise dark setting.
This feature is also found in the art of Caravaggio's followers, but with certain differences. While Caravaggio often used this device in his religious paintings (e.g., The Conversion of Paul) to suggest the mysterious and momentary penetration of the divine into an otherwise shadowy terrestrial world, Caravaggio's followers tended to demistify that light by including a candle or a lamp to explain its source (see, for instance, Gerrit van Honthorst's Supper Party).
Also called "Catholic Reformation." The revival of the Roman Catholic church in Europe, beginning around the middle of the 16th century and lasting into the 17th. It is characterized by a series of internal reforms, stimulated in part by the Protestant Reformation. The Council of Trent (see below) was one manifestation of the counter-reformation, as was the foundation of a number of new religious orders, including the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order).
Artists who imitate various features of the style of Caravaggio, for instance his tenebrism and his methods of bridging the gap between the fictive world of the painting and the real world of the spectator. This movement flourished in Italy especially during the decade after the artist's death in 1610, but it had an even longer life among non-Italian artists who visited Italy in the 17th century, such as Gerrit van Honthorst. One can find certain Caravaggist features even among artists who never visited Italy (e.g., Rembrandt, Georges de la Tour).
Illusionistic architectural painting. The use of quadratura to paint ceilings in such a way as to make the actual architecture of the room appear to continue beyond the actual bounds of the ceiling became fashionable in Italian Baroque painting from the 1620s forward. Quadratura painting required a rather sophisticated knowledge of perspective, and painters might hire a specialist to help them design and paint the architecture in their ceiling fresco (as did Guercino in his Aurora).
A preliminary study for a painting, done with oil paint, often times on panel. This compositional method was perfected by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, and combines elements of disegno with Venetian colorito (i.e., the compositional ideas are tested out before the painting is begun, like a drawing, but the ideas are executed in color, using paint, like the Venetians).
A printmaking technique. The process requires that a metal plate be coated with an acid-resistant waxy resin. The artist then scratches a design into the wax with an etching needle, exposing the metal plate. The plate is placed in an acid bath, and the acid bites the plate where the metal has been exposed. After the plate is "bitten" by the acid to a sufficient depth, the coating is removed and the plate is inked, and after all traces of ink are removed from the surface (i.e., all the ink is below the surface, in the lines etched by the acid), it is run through a printing press and the design is pressed onto paper.
A printmaking technique in which a metal plate is scratched directly with a needle. The lines produced have something of the same character as etched lines, except that the needle raises a ridge on each side of the line (called a burr) which prints as a rich smudge for the first twenty or thirty impressions.
A latin term meaning "emptiness," used to describe a still life in which an artist uses one or more mementi mori to remind the viewer of the brevity of life, and consequently of the limited time span in which we may enjoy the pleasures of the senses. The term, and idea, are taken from the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes:
Literally, a reminder of death; often an object such as skull, a watch, or a candle, depicted in a work of art.
A camera obscura (Latin=dark chamber) is a light-tight box which has a small hole in one side that can be fitted with a lens. Light from outside enters through this hole and transmits an inverted image of the outside world onto the surface that is opposite the hole. The artist can trace the contours of that light-image in a variety of ways. Certain characteristics in the paintings of Jan Vermeer resemble the images produced by a camera obscura, suggesting that he used that particular tool.