Swinging between the majesty of the Greco-Byzantine heritage and the modernity forecasted by Giotto, Early Italians art summarise the first steps that lead to the Renaissance. Trying out new mediums, those first artists little by little left frescoes for removable panels. If hieratic faces can offend our neophyte eyes, this detachment was requested at that time. It highlighted the divinity of the character, comforting the sacrality by a background covered with gold leaves. The elegance of the line and the colour choice combined to reinforce the symbolic choices, half-confessed ultimate goal of the Early Italians artists: make the Invisible... visible. The author, in the magnificent book, takes up with emphasizing the importance that the rivalry between the Siennese and Florentine shools played, for the evolution of art history. And the reader, in the course of these forgotten masterworks, will discover how, little by little, the sacred became incarnate and more human... opening a discrete but definitive door through the anthropomorphism, cherished by the Renaissance.
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Sir Joseph Archer Crowe was an English consular official and art critic, whose volumes of the History of Painting in Italy, co-written with the Italian critic Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle (1819–1897), stand at the beginning of disciplined modern art history writing in English. With Cavalcaselle (an Italian writer and art critic), he produced several historical works on art of classic importance, notably Early Flemish Painters (London, 1857) and A New History of Painting in Italy from the Second to the Sixteenth Century (London, 1864-1871, 5 vols.).
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