The Venetian School of Painting
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "The Summa Virtus is an ugly representation of all the virtues; a waddling deformity with eyes bound holds the scales of justice; the pitcher in its hand means prudence, and the gold upon its feet symbolises charity. The landscape, both of this and of the "Fortune," resembles that which he was painting in his larger works at the end of the century"
- Francesco Squarcione, though, as Vasari says, he may not have been the best of painters, has left work (now at Berlin) which is accepted as genuine and which shows that he was more than the mere organiser he is sometimes called. He had travelled in Greece, and was apparently a dealer, supplying the demand for classic fragments, which was becoming widespread. When he founded his school in Padua he evidently was its leading spirit and a powerful artistic influence. His pupils, even the greatest, were long in breaking away from his convention, and few of them threw it off entirely, even in after life. That convention was carried with undeviating thoroughness into every detail. Draperies are arranged in statuesque folds, designed to display every turn of the form beneath; the figures are moulded with all the precision and limitations of statuary. The very landscape becomes sculpturesque, and rocks of a volcanic character are constructed with the regularity of masonry. The colour and technique are equally uncompromising, and the surface becomes a beautiful enamel, unyielding, definite in its lines, lacquer-like in its firmness of finish, while the Gothic forms, which had hitherto been so prevalent, were replaced by more or less pedantic adaptations from Roman bas-reliefs. This system of design was practised most determinedly in Padua itself, but it soon spread to Venice. Squarcione himself was employed there after 1440, and though Antonio da Murano clung to the old archaic style he saw the Paduan manner invading his kingdom, and his own brother became strongly Squarcionesque.
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