The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters


Jacopo Bassano


Florentine Painter of the High Renaissance

Stylistically influenced by the following painters art movements -Mannerism Parmigianinoa, Fra Bartolommeo and  Raphael

Education - apprenticed to Bonifazio Veronese

Cause of Death - Old age, he was 82


Jacopo Bassano is best known for his dramatic biblical themes and intriguing portraits He liked to use local  peasants as models thereby endowing his work with a contemporary (for his day) look. The suggestion of sorrow, perhaps also suffering, is a strong theatrical element in his work. Bassano's Last Supper, circa 1542, is one of the greatest masterpieces of the High Renaissance.



About The High Renaissance Period

Artists of the Renaissance were elevated in social standing and their art was no longer looked upon as simple handicrafts, but as divinely inspired creations. The spirit of an era awoke, revitalized with knowledge and creativity. The sense of humanism pervading renaissance painting is palpable. The painters touched on a multitude of  issues regarding the human condition - death, love, reason, religion, universal morality, social problems.

Acrording to art historian Clive Bell "The art of the High Renaissance was conditioned by the demands of its patrons. There is nothing odd about that; it is a recognised stage in the rake's progress. The patrons of the Renaissance wanted plenty of beauty of the kind dear to the impressionable stock-jobber. Only, the plutocrats of the sixteenth century had a delicacy and magnificence of taste which would have made the houses and manners of modern stock-jobbers intolerable to them. Renaissance millionaires could be vulgar and brutal, but they were great gentlemen. They were neither illiterate cads nor meddlesome puritans, nor even saviours of society. Yet, if we are to understand the amazing popularity of Titian's and of Veronese's women, we must take note of their niceness to kiss and obvious willingness to be kissed. That beauty for which can be substituted the word "desirableness," and that insignificant beauty which is the beauty of gems, were in great demand. Imitation was wanted, too; for if pictures are to please as suggestions and mementoes, the objects that suggest and remind must be adequately portrayed. These pictures had got to stimulate the emotions of life, first; aesthetic emotion was a secondary matter. A Renaissance picture was meant to say just those things that a patron would like to hear. That way lies the end of art: however wicked it may be to try to shock the public, it is not so wicked as trying to please it. But whatever the Italian painters of the Renaissance had to say they said in the grand manner. Remember, we are not Dutchmen. Therefore let all your figures suggest the appropriate emotion by means of the appropriate gesture—the gesture consecrated by the great tradition. Straining limbs, looks of love, hate, envy, fear and horror, up-turned or downcast eyes, hands outstretched or clasped in despair—by means of our marvellous machinery, and still more marvellous skill, we can give them all they ask without forestalling the photographers. But we are not recounters all, for some of our patrons are poets. To them the visible Universe is suggestive of moods or, at any rate, sympathetic with them. These value objects for their association with the fun and folly and romance of life. For them, too, we paint pictures, and in their pictures we lend Nature enough humanity to make her interesting. My lord is lascivious? Correggio will give him a background to his mood. My lord is majestic? Michelangelo will tell him that man is, indeed, a noble animal whose muscles wriggle heroically as watch-springs. The sixteenth century produced a race of artists peculiar in their feeling for material beauty, but normal, coming as they do at the foot of the hills, in their technical proficiency and aesthetic indigence. Craft holds the candle that betrays the bareness of the cupboard. The aesthetic significance of form is feebly and impurely felt, the power of creating it is lost almost; but finer descriptions have rarely been painted. They knew how to paint in the sixteenth century: as for the primitives—God bless them—they did their best: what more could they do when they couldn't even round a lady's thighs?"

Until the Middle Ages men regarded themselves as following the Good Shepherd, and art consequently did not recognize the individual in particular. In the structure and position of  the figures, as in their expression, a general and uniform type of beauty prevailed. The early Renaissance marks the victory of individualism and the uncompromising prominence of he individual.  According to Renaissance historian Walter Pater  "Here, artists and philosophers and those whom the action of the world has elevated and made keen, do not live in isolation, but breathe a common air, and catch light and heat from each other’s thoughts. There is a spirit of general elevation and enlightenment in which all alike communicate. The unity of this spirit gives unity to all the various products of the Renaissance; and it is to this intimate alliance with the mind, this participation in the best thoughts which that age produced, that the art of Italy in the fifteenth century owes much of its grave dignity and influence.."



Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists,  spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscript,  idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and  light, Old Testament stories, The Blackdeath, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism.

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Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

The Meaning of Sacred Symbols in  Paintings. Most prominently featured  symbols and their meaning:

References - HISTORY OF PAINTING by Walter Pater