Reviewed: ‘Re-Reading Leaonardo’

Posted in books, conferences (summary), reviews by Editor on September 11, 2011

This terrific collection of essays grew out of the 2001 conference The Fortuna of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Trattato della Pittura’, held at the Warburg Institute in London. I count myself lucky to have attended. Held just days after the 9/11 bombings (September 13-14), the conference was, as I recall, however, a strange affair — as so much of life was in those days immediately following the attacks — all the more reason to celebrate this accomplished volume.  -CH

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Claire Farago, ed., Re-Reading Leonardo: The ‘Treatise on Painting’ across Europe, 1550–1900 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), 652 pages, ISBN: 9780754665328, $124.95.

Reviewed by Ellen Prokop, The Frick Art Reference Library; posted 3 August 2011.

This impressive, generously illustrated collection of essays edited by Claire Farago developed from a symposium held in London in 2001 that focused on the historical reception of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della pittura. Twenty-three studies, including introductory remarks and an annotated bibliography, by twenty authors (three scholars make multiple contributions) examine the transnational fortune of the treatise and consider Leonardo’s influence on the institutionalization of artistic production in early modern Europe. The focus on reception leads to consideration of fundamental issues regarding Leonardo’s legacy, such as the development of the modern conception of artistic genius, as well as broader concerns, such as the disciplinization of art history. By positing Leonardo’s influence instead of his reputation as the “historical phenomena” (3), the essays systematically problematize the constitution of that reputation. As Farago states: “An historical practice that focuses on the author’s identity without attending to the construction of identity per se, is blind to its own modes of knowledge production” (4). . . .

The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)

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While many of the contributions are relevant for the eighteenth century; these essays address the period directly:

•Thomas Willette, “The First Italian Publication of the Treatise on Painting: Book Culture, the History of Art, and the Naples Edition of 1733″
•Thomas Kirchner, “Between Academicism and Its Critics: Leonardo da Vinci’s Traité de la Peinture and 18th-century French Art Theory”
•Javier Navarro de Zuvillaga, “The Trattato in 17th- and 18th-century Spanish Perspective and Art Theory”
•Richard Woodfield, “The 1721 English Treatise of Painting: A Masonic Moment in the Culture of Newtonianism”
•Geoff Quilley, “The Trattato della Pittura and Leonardo’s Reputation in 18th-century British Art and Aesthetics”

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