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View Diary: Introducing Leonardo Da Vinci's "La Bella Principessa" (226 comments)

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  •  I don't really buy into "hidden lessons" (1+ / 0-)
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    theories of interpretation.  I tend to be a bit more pragmatic in interpretation.  

    Consider the physical difficulties of completing this fresco, some 50 feet from the ground.  The artist has to consider proportion and legibility at a distance in addition to the problems of representing the individual scenes of Genesis.  

    In fact, there's a marked difference in the first and second half of the ceiling.  He painted the last scenes of Genesis first.  The figures tend to be smaller and the scenes more complicated.  Michelangelo did not understand how these would be seen until the scaffolding was taken down; at that point, he determined that there was a greater need for legibility.  Indeed, the more famous scenes from the ceiling, including the Creation of Man, are much simpler in composition and much bolder in their representation of the human body.  

    Back to "Bianca Sforza" though:  ultimately, I don't think it matters which painting is more "faithful" to reality.  This kind of criterion was not in play in the Renaissance.  Certainly, the patron would have wanted a "great likeness" of his daughter/niece/whoever.  But standards or ideals of beauty also came into play, so there might be "corrections" for the proportions of the face, for example.  And then, as you suggest in your discussion, there are the visible signs of the artist's skill that would have been important to the patron as well.  

    Unsurrounded since March 13, 2009

    by SneakySnu on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 12:53:56 PM PDT

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    •  I wasn't too knocked out by the Brazilian claim.. (0+ / 0-)

      the Meshberger observation of The sagittal section of the brain is pretty damn convincing.

      Here's the thing about the's a cross section which means you had to do a dissection.  Autopsies were forbidden.  Leonardo almost got excommunicated for doing them.  This one is so complete the pituitary stalk is visible.  That is a really fine dissection.  If you just go in through the top of the skull and pull the brain out, you will tear the pituitary stalk and leave the pituitary gland behind because it is encased in a bony area called the sella turcica (Turkish saddle).  You have to have done several dissections to know this.

      This would be consistent with Michelangelo's combative attitude.  He'd be flipping off the church, because in order for them to know what he did, they would have to also be guilty of doing the work he did, or they wouldn't recognize the anatomy.

      The other thing that appeals to me about this is the placement of God in the ventricles.  I think the argument could be made that God is not giving Adam a life, but a soul.  He's awake already.  His eyes are open.  At the time, Leonardo had done extensive dissections to see if he could locate the soul.  He placed it in the ventricles because they were the "common sense" where all the nerves appeared to go to.  

      He was wrong about that, but he didn't have microanatomy to work with.  He couldn't trace the nerves back along their projections.  He certainly didn't know about ganglia or synapses.  However, he had made casts of the ventricles and sculpted everything away from them.

      He also says in his notebooks that nature abhors a I'm thinking this may have been a topic of conversation among intellectuals at the time and the notion might be represented in Michelangelo's work.


      by henry porter on Thu Oct 15, 2009 at 01:19:09 PM PDT

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