The warring factions of Renaissance city-states produced an ever-increasing demand for the new and more sophisticated weapons that were required to gain an advantage over the enemy, to this end Ludovico il Moro Sforza, Duke of Milan employed the most free-thinking engineer of the age Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo produced designs for military machines such as a giant crossbow, a repeating cannon, and numerous other inventions, he had studied the flight of birds and considered the huge effect that a flying machine may have on the outcome of conflicts on the battlefield.
Many of Leonardo’s designs are updated versions of the existing technologies that had been used for centuries but as always with Leonardo, his more radical ideas were years ahead of their time. It is incredible that this Renaissance polymath had imagined weaponry that only became a reality centuries later with the onset of the first and second world wars.
Antonio Allegri more commonly known as Correggio was born in 1489 in the northern Italian town that he is named after. It is not known how much influence (if any) other major artists from Rome or Venice had on his work. He was influenced by Mantegna's work in Mantua but, according to the great art historian Vasari, he never visited Rome.
Details of his life are sparse but his major works were executed in Parma a world away from his southern contemporaries. We know that he married a lady from his hometown, Girolama Francesca di Braghetis, and had at least one son, Pomponio Allegri, who was also a painter.
His famous Assumption of the Virgin fresco for the Cathedral in Parma and his painting the Holy Night are regarded as being among the artist's finest works.
The architect Filippo Brunelleschi along with the painter Masaccio and the sculptor Donatello make up a trio of forward-thinking individuals at the heart of Renaissance Florence.
Brunelleschi’s experiments on linear perspective were a vital step forward for the painters, architects, and sculptors who embraced his ideas. Linear perspective made possible the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface.
Perhaps Brunelleschi’s most famous work is his revolutionary design for the dome of Florence Cathedral which today stands as a monumental testament to his work.
The painter Masaccio was one of the leading innovators at the beginning of the Renaissance his frecoes in the Brancacci Chapel are among his finest works
The city of Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance. Many of the artistic treasures that were produced in the 13th 14th and 15th-century workshops of the city can be seen today in the abundance of museums and palaces that Florence has to offer. The history of the Renaissance is told in the masterpieces that adorn the walls and galleries of this stunning Italian wonder. Anyone who is passionate about their art or indeed has even a slight interest in the subject would benefit from a visit to at least some of these galleries.
Florence is a beautiful place, the breathtaking-cathedral which dominates the city center is a marvel. Its dome, created by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi is rightly world-famous as is the imposing campanile designed by Giotto de Bondone. A must-see includes the Bargello sculpture gallery, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia with its statue of David but there are many many more equally important venues to explore. Seeing some of these wonderful buildings and artworks does take planning but on a visit of just three or four days, it is surprising how much can be achieved.
The sale at Christie's of the Salvator Mundi has caused a media storm of claim and counterclaim. Many Leonardo experts are convinced that this painting’s attribution to Leonardo is correct but many are not and with a painting that carries a price tag of $450m convincing the art world that the painting is genuine is important, to say the least. For example, the art scholar Martin Kemp is totally convinced that the painting is a genuine Leonardo while Dr Carmen Bambach another renowned Leonardo expert does not. If the painting was the work of one of Da Vinci’s followers - as many speculate – the value of the painting would plummet at an alarming rate.
Where is the Salvator Mundi?
We know that the painting was purchased on behalf of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was to be displayed in the Louvre Abu Dhabi but it was pulled out as an exhibit days before it was to be unveiled. Given that it was intended to be the crowning glory of the museum and that no explanation has been given for the withdrawal, it is perhaps not surprising that theories and suspicions about the painting’s whereabouts are rife in the media.
It has been reported that the painting is now on Mohammed bin Salman’s yacht somewhere in the red sea. If this is true it is extraordinary that the worlds most expensive painting is bobbing about in a superyacht somewhere in the middle east.
Why is the painting being kept under wraps?
Considering that the Salvator Mundi was intended as one of - if not the main - exhibit for display in the Louvre, Abu Dabi it does seem odd it won’t now be displayed at this prestigious museum. However, if the painting is re-classified as a work by one of Leonardo’s followers and not by the master himself then the financial implications for the current owner are huge. The $450m price tag could become $1.5m, a massive loss and a source of deep embarrassment to the Saudi Royal Family.
Is this painting by Leonardo da Vinci, his workshop, or one of his followers perhaps with some touches by Leonardo himself?
We may never know the answer but with so much money at stake, it is certain that the debate will continue to rage and with the eye-watering price tag that the painting commands vested interests will be desperate for confirmation that the work is indeed a genuine Da Vinci. There are several versions of the Salvator Mundi, my article explores the provenance of two of these fascinating paintings.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are organising an exhibition featuring the early works of Peter Paul Rubens. The exhibition Early Rubens starts on April 6, 2019, and runs until September 8 2019.
Rubens was greatly influenced by the art of the Italian Renaissance, he admired the work of Raphael Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and also the Venitian Renaissance masters such as Titian and Tintoretto. As the title suggests Early Rubens will focus on the development of this prolific artist’s rise to international fame and is dedicated to the pivotal years between 1609 and 1621. Many of the featured paintings, gathered from museums in London, Vienna, and New York in addition to works from private collectors will be shown in North America or the US West Coast for the first time.
Rubens painted a wide variety of subjects including mythological scenes, biblical stories and many portraits of family members in addition to his depictions of important political figures and courtiers. He is a true artistic giant, a master of world art, a genius whose skill is recognised by art aficionados around the world. I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to visit San Francisco to make a visit to this exhibition a priority of their time in this city.
2019 not only marks 500 years since the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, but it is also the 500 year anniversary of Jacopo Tintoretto’s birth. In celebration of the work of this remarkable painter from Venice, the National Gallery of Art in Washington will hold a major exhibition of his works.
The exhibition, Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice, will open on March 24, 2019, and run until July 7, 2019. This will be the first retrospective of the artist in America and will include almost 50 paintings in addition to several drawings spanning the whole of the artist’s career. The exhibitions only other venue was at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, it began in September of 2018 making the Washington venue the only one to show these works in the USA.
Having been privileged to view Tintoretto’s paintings in the Accademia Galleries in Venice and also in the magnificent Scuola Grande di Rocco, also in Venice, I would urge anyone to visit this exhibition. Tintoretto enjoyed a long and prosperous career, he is considered along with Titian and Veronese, to be one of the foremost masters of Renaissance Venice.
2019 marks the 500 year anniversary of Leonardo's death. In the UK this will be marked by a series of simultaneous exhibitions to be shown in 12 cities across the nation. The Royal Collection contains 550 of Leonardo's most important drawings. Acquired by Charles 11 they are in excellent condition having rarely been on public display. The drawings will then be brought together to form part of an exhibition at the Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace.
Celebrations, exhibitions and events will be held in Italy, France and indeed around the world. Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519, in Ambrose, France a genius of the Renaissance whos flame still shines brightly after half a millennium.
The Sistine Chapel the home of some of the greatest artwork ever produced