- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199609314
- ISBN-13: 978-0199609314
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.1 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man 1st Edition
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"James R. Banker's Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man reminds us that...the human scale of his art--the ability to have his divine characters look us square in the eye as our eyes square up the mathematically intense realism of his worlds--never gets old."
"...we owe a great debt to Professor Banker for his tireless effort of mining the
archives and for then presenting the results in an enjoyable manner (some chapters can be
assigned to undergraduates)...his findings and their meaning for Piero scholarship and beyond amply demonstrate the value of archival research in the twenty-first century." -- Renaissance Quarterly
"James R. Banker's magisterial study, Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man, represents a major contribution to the scholarship on this Renaissance painter and mathematician and has a grounded keel and quiet strength that is evocative of the timeless quality of Piero's paintings themselves...Banker's study serves as the culmination of a lifetime of scholarly work that will be welcomed by serious readers looking for a detailed study of one of the most complex of Renaissance artists, Piero della Francesca."--Journal of Modern History
About the Author
James R. Banker is professor emeritus of Italian history at North Carolina State University, and lives for most of the year in Florence and Sansepolcro. An expert on the life and works of Piero della Francesca and Sassetta, two artists closely associated with San Sepolcro, his research has emphasized the role of lay religion in the lives of early Renaissance Italians, and the role of patrons, lay and clerical, in the paintings of both Sassetta and Piero. Author of numerous articles on Renaissance themes, his books include Death in the Community: Memorialization and Confraternities in an Italian Commune and, most recently, The Culture of San Sepolcro During the Youth of Piero della Francesca.
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One of the most difficult things in writing about Piero is to figure out exactly where he was at any specific time, given the general scarcity of documentation. But where he was determines also what he was doing, because you can't paint a fresco unless you're there, and, conversely, to date a painting means pinning the artist down to the particular place at the particular time. Prof. Banker's complete mastery of whatever documentation there is--contracts, letters, signed witnesses to marriages, dowries, the sale of everything from land to woad (the source of much of the town's wealth) and every other imaginable written source--enables him to construct a very convincing itinerary and, therefore, a persuasive timeline for Piero's major paintings. Many scholars have contended that it is difficult to date Piero's paintings because there is not much apparent development or evidence of evolving style in them. But the author's ability to construct a plausible timeline from extrinsic evidence has led him to discern for the first time three distinct phases in Piero's work, based on the painter's use of perspective, proportion, and spatial organization--three major components of his painterly practice throughout his life, but with shifting emphasis. The discussion of Piero's mathematical work follows along with the examination of his life and art; the writer is keen to show how Piero's interest in perspective and proportionality continually informs his artistic practice and vice-versa, and when it comes to the painter's later years, when his absorption in his geometrical treatises displaced much of his painterly activity, the discussion reveals Piero to have been one of the most gifted and original mathematicians of his time, a man whose "visual acumen" (216) was the source of both his brilliant painting and his brilliant geometrical theorizing. Piero emerges as a true "Renaissance man" equal in genius to Leonardo and Michelangelo, indeed, "the most intellectual painter of the Quattrocento" (1).
Prof. Banker has taken an excellent look at Piero as "Artist and Man," a fine model of what a life-and-work study of an artist should be. His writing is organized, lucid, and approachable--almost conversational--throughout. The volume has generous scholarly apparatus in the form of maps and figures of geometrical bodies, a chronology, extensive selected bibliography and index. There are ten color plates of major paintings and thirty-one black-and-white illustrations. Unfortunately, the majority of the paintings discussed are reproduced only in black and white on text paper and are neither very clear nor in very useful contrast; it will pay to have an album of good reproductions at hand while reading. That is the only negative criticism I have of this book, which is in every other way outstanding and highly recommended.