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1viorellis Methods

drawing, art, master and istic

1VIORELLI'S METHODS Morelli found art criticism uninspired, unscientific and prac tically worthless. To be of any real value he held that historical, documentary and traditional knowledge respecting works of art was only of secondary importance as compared with the evidence to be derived from the study of the pictures themselves. He con tended that art criticism must be conducted on scientific prin ciples and follow a strict course of inductive reasoning. A paint ing should be subjected to a searching analysis, and each of its component parts and minutest details to methodical investigation.

Studying one day in the Uffizi, it suddenly struck him that in a picture by Botticelli containing several figures the drawing of the hands was remarkably similar in all ; that the same character istic but plebeian type, with bony fingers, broad square nails, and dark outlines, was repeated in every figure. Turning to the ears, he observed that they also were drawn in an individual manner. Then he examined other works by this painter, and found that the same forms were exactly repeated, together with other indi vidual traits which seemed distinctive of the master : the character istic type of head and expression, the drawing of the nostrils, the vitality of movement, the disposition of drapery, harmony of colour (where it had not been tampered with by the restorer), and quality of landscape.

In all Botticelli's true works the presence of these and other characteristics proclaimed their genuineness. In paintings where the forms and types were those of the painter, but where vitality, movement, and all deeper qualities were absent, Morelli recog nized works executed from the master's cartoons; while in pic tures where neither types nor forms responded to the test, and where only a general family likeness connected them with Bot ticelli, he discerned the productions of pupils and imitators. Af ter applying his method to the works of Botticelli, he examined those of other Florentine masters, and afterwards of painters of other Italian schools, everywhere meeting with results to him not less convincing. If the drawing of the hand and ear were not always conspicuous, there were other peculiarities of this language of form to aid in the identification of a master : the treatment of the hair, as in Piero dei Franceschi ; the indication of the sinews, as in Foppa ; the drawing of the eye, as in Liberale da Verona ; the modelling of the eyelid and upper lip, as in Ambrogio de Predis; the form of the feet, as in Luini. In short, all apparently insig nificant details were of importance in his plan of study, for to him they were like the signature of the master. (C. J. FF. ; X.)