On Painting - Alberti

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Alberti and Religion
After reading a significant portion of Leon Battista Alberti's book On Painting, I think the most intriguing idea in this text would probably have to come from Book II, and that is the idea that painting brings religion to a whole new level, and that painting itself adds more value to generally any religious relic. Alberti uses Book I to discuss specific technical details of painting, specifically mathematics, but begins to explain for the spiritual and emotional value of painting in Books II and III. He also explains that painting gives a face to the religious figures we worship, and that any person depicted in a painting (religious or otherwise) will go on living for a very long time after they are gone through their painting of them. I would first like to discuss Alberti's initial idea that painting enhances the practice of religion by making it more tangible. It's no secret that the Catholic church especially has a monopoly over sacred imagery through painting. Religious art of any kind was heavily regarded during the 14th and 15th century, and I would argue that painting was the most popular medium. Not only most popular, but probably the most highly regarded. Referencing Cennini's The Craftsman Handbook, we find out that painting was regarded as a medical practice because of the similarities between grinding pigments to create color and grinding certain ingredients to make medicine, so we also know the task was revered. Cennini also believe painting was a gift from God bestowed on certain men, and that it was almost necessary in that sense to use their gift of painting for the church first and foremost. Religious art was not only important to add visual wealth to the church, but ancient writer Trismegistus quotes : "Man, mindful of his nature and origin, represented the gods in his own likeness" (Book II, page 63). Perhaps the most important part of religious art, in the catholic church or otherwise, is the idea of giving a face to...
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