The article is dedicated to the issues of interpretation of the Italian Renaissance portraiture in the works of Heinrich Wölfflin “Classic Art” (1899) and “Italy and the German sense of Form” (1931).
The article deals with the category of “corporeal”, which was established in the early works of the scholar (“Prolegomena to a Psychology of Architecture” and “Renaissance and Baroque”) and played a crucial role in the shaping of Wölfflin’s position on the Italian Renaissance portrait and on the Italian Renaissance art in general. The author proves that a concept of the “corporeal” and its manifestations (posture, motion and gesticulation) appear like a world-view or a “spirit of the age” expression and condition some fundamental differences in approach towards the form in the Early and High Renaissance periods. Secular as well as reli-gious paintings of that time in the works of Wölfflin appear like a transformed world-view reflection; they are connected with transition from one social class (bourgeoisie) to another (aristocracy), and therefore, with a process of a “type idealization”, which spread in Italian painting in the beginning of the 16th c. According to the author of the paper, ideas of the interrelation between artistic ideal and human body, as well as the con-cept of moral qualities reflection in human appearance, which were developed in Wölfflin’s “Classic Art” and “Italy and the German sense of Form”, go back to Johann Joachim Winckelmann and to physiognomy of the 18th c. (first of all to the works of Johann Caspar Lavater). Wölfflin’s passages on “nobleness”, “majesty” and “lucidity” of the Cinquecento works of art actually develop Winckelmann’s famous theory of “noble simplic-ity and quiet grandeur” in the Ancient Greek works of the High Classical period. Thereby, the art of Cinque-cento acquires a particular significance: it represents order as opposed to chaos, personifying the aristocratic ideal.
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