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The Structural Problematic of Leon Battista Alberti's De Pictura

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Abstract:

The structure of Leon Battista Alberti's treatise De Pictura (1435) was derived from a tripartite concept (rudiments, composition, reception of light) adapted from medieval philosophy, linked with his seeing architecture as metaphor. The De Pictura can be imagined structurally as a diagram bringing into textual visibility a praxis intended to unite literary and cultural phenomena, quite apart from offering a theory of painting. For this structure, Alberti is indebted to Galen, Hugh of St Victor and Averroes, rather than to any ‘Renaissance’ spirit, and the De Pictura, though breaking new ground as the first Renaissance treatise on painting, has to be considered almost as a scholastic exercise.

Keywords: Alberti, Leon Battista (De Pictura); Art theory; Italy; Painting

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1477-4658.00090

Publication date: 1990-09-01

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