Artibus et Historiae no. 34 (XVII)

1996, ISSN 0391-9064

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JOSEPH MANCA - The Gothic Leonardo: Towards a Reassessment of the Renaissance

This essay interprets various aspects of the life and art of Leonardo da Vinci as manifestations of late medieval art. The tendency in the literature, beginning with Vasari, has been to stress the progressive aspects of Leonardo's oeuvre. Yet, despite the numerous forward-looking aspects of his work, some of the most noteworthy characteristics of his art are rooted in the past, especially in the late Gothic style, including his pictorial texture, light and shadow technique, representation of smiles, elegant physical types, and interest in monsters and caricatures of humans. Similarly, Leonardo's fascination with flat geometric decoration and knots should be viewed as manifestations of the late medieval style. Leonardo turned his back on many of the tough and realistic features of Early Renaissance Florentine art, and he created a style that bridged the gap between Gothic art and the High Renaissance manner.

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