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Renaissance Intarsia: Masterpieces of Wood Inlayby Luca Trevisan
Synopses & Reviews
Among the so-called and#147;minor artsand#8221; that flourished in the Italian Renaissance, perhaps the most astounding in its virtuosity was that of intarsia, or wood inlay, in which countless pieces of wood of various species were fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle so as to form exquisite pictures. The masters of intarsia adopted the newly developed technique of linear perspective to depict their characteristic themes, namely, cityscapes viewed through an archway and illusionistic renderings of half-open cabinets filled with liturgical or scholarly equipment. At first these enchanting scenes in wood were found mainly in ecclesiastical settingsand#151;on choir stalls and in sacristiesand#151;but by the later Quattrocento they were also used to decorate the studioli, or private studies, of powerful secular patrons. Eventually, in the Cinquecento, intarsists began to push the limits of their medium with figural scenes of ever-greater complexity; this ambitious yet perhaps quixotic attempt to rival the art of painting led to many technical and aesthetic innovations, but also to an abandonment of intarsiaand#8217;s natural strengths and its ultimate decline as an independent art.
In this volume, a team of art historians trace the evolution of Renaissance intarsia through a discussion of twelve of the most important intarsia cycles. These include the famous studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro in the ducal palace at Urbino; the sacristy of Santa Maria in Organo at Verona, which Vasari described as the most beautiful in all of Italy; and the choir of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, the cartoons for which were prepared by Lorenzo Lotto. Drawing on the latest scholarship and, in some cases, newly discovered documentary evidence, the authors explain the historical context and iconography of these masterpieces, as well as their connections to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of the time. Their insightful essays are illustrated with some two hundred new color images, the result of an extensive photographic campaign carried out exclusively for this work.
Admirably filling in a unique chapter of art history, Renaissance Intarsia will be essential reading for scholars and enthusiasts of art, and a powerful source of inspiration for contemporary artists and craftsmen.
The first modern survey of a fascinating yet underappreciated art form, abundantly illustrated with new color photography. In this volume, a team of art historians trace the evolution of Renaissance intarsia through a discussion of twelve of the most important intarsia cycles
About the Author
Luca Trevisan has published various essays on sixteenth and seventeenth century Venetian art, with particular attention to architecture.
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