Notes: Episode 48, The Italian Renaissance (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


5:56 – Since audio is such a fantastically poor medium for discussing the visual arts, I’ll try to link to images of the paintings, buildings, and sculptures we discuss. Here’s one for “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Heironymus Bosch.

12:52 – The Mona Lisa is in general a pretty easy one to track down if you’re curious, but here’s a link for convenience. Note both the atmospheric perspective in the background as the hills get hazier and duller as they move farther away, as well as the sfumato used to give her face in particular a softness and gradient that is rarely seen even in contemporary paintings. The eyes in particular are considered to be extremely masterful.

13:52 – The baroque art movement would start around a century after the end of the Italian Renaissance.

15:13 – “The Lamentation Of The Dead Christ” is an extreme example of an extreme perspective, but really shows off the capabilities of the technique in describing the space of a scene. The image itself does not appear distorted at first glance, but examining it as a two dimensional construction of the illusion of three dimensional space reveals how drastic some of the distortions are in order to create this illusion.

28:52 – Here is an image of the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, along with a breakdown of what exactly is going on up there thematically.

38:04 – I should probably be more careful here – this is speculation that I stated as accusation. Most of the time, cardinal-nephews (which was a real position in the church for awhile) really were their nephews. A number of popes during this period also had children, though these were more likely to be given cushy secular positions than anything else. The closest verified pope-to-pope chain of nepotism was Pope Innocent VIII (whose name seems like a bit of a case of protesting too much in light of this story) marrying his illegitimate son to the daughter of Lorenzo de Medici in exchange for making his son Giovanni de Medici cardinal. Giovanni would become Pope Leo X. That being said, there have been unsubstantiated accusations of papal dynasties lying about heritage in their attempts to keep the throne in the family; they’re just unsubstantiated, and therefore not really the purvue of history until they can be proven.

40:16 – You might think you haven’t seen Donatello’s David, but if you take a look I wouldn’t be surprised if it seemed familiar. This is one of those works that is really only less famous because it was overshadowed by something so great – not because it wasn’t incredible in its own right.

43:15 – I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like Michelangelo never said anything of the sort. This is one of those cute little misattributions that eventually gets tagged on to someone famous, like Einstein or Winston Churchill. The anecdote of someone cutting away all the stone that isn’t the statue seems to have its roots in the 19th century and was attributed to numerous sculptors before finally latching onto Michelangelo and never letting go. It’s a nice story, but false nonetheless.

43:38 – A picture of Michelangelo’s Moses can be found here. It really is a breathtaking sculpture.

1:01:22 – Savonarola actually wasn’t hanged; he was tied to a wooden cross and burned. I’m not sure where that mix-up came from, but there you have it. That is one terrible way to die, and hanging likely would have been preferable, if you were to ask Savonarola about it.

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