Sistine Chapel ceiling
The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. The ceiling is that of the Sistine Chapel, the large papal chapel built within the Vatican between 1477 and 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV, for whom the chapel is named, it was painted at the commission of Pope Julius II. The chapel is the location for many other important services; the ceiling's various painted elements form part of a larger scheme of decoration within the Chapel, which includes the large fresco The Last Judgment on the sanctuary wall by Michelangelo, wall paintings by several leading painters of the late 15th century including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, a set of large tapestries by Raphael, the whole illustrating much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which The Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equaled only by Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations.
The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and nude, which allowed Michelangelo to demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure and which have provided an enormously influential pattern book of models for other artists since. Pope Julius II was a "warrior pope" who in his papacy undertook an aggressive campaign for political control to unite and empower Italy under the leadership of the Church, he invested in symbolism to display his temporal power, such as his procession, in the Classical manner, through a triumphal arch in a chariot after one of his many military victories. It was Julius who began the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica in 1506, as the most potent symbol of the source of papal power. In the same year 1506, Pope Julius conceived a program to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; the walls of the chapel had been decorated twenty years earlier. The lowest of three levels is painted to resemble draped hangings and was hung on special occasions with the set of tapestries designed by Raphael.
The middle level contains a complex scheme of frescoes illustrating the Life of Christ on the right side and the Life of Moses on the left side. It was carried out by some of the most renowned Renaissance painters: Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio and Cosimo Rosselli; the upper level of the walls contains the windows, between which are painted pairs of illusionistic niches with representations of the first 32 popes. A draft by Pier Matteo d'Amelia indicates that the ceiling was painted blue like that of the Arena Chapel and decorated with gold stars representing the zodiacal constellations, it is probable that, because the chapel was the site of regular meetings and Masses of an elite body of officials known as the Papal Chapel, it was Pope Julius' intention and expectation that the iconography of the ceiling was to be read with many layers of meaning. Michelangelo, not a painter but a sculptor, was reluctant to take on the work, he was occupied with a large sculptural commission for the pope's tomb.
The pope was adamant. However, a war with the French broke out, diverting the attention of the pope, Michelangelo fled from Rome to continue sculpting. In 1508 the pope summoned Michelangelo to begin work on the ceiling; the contract was signed on 10 May 1508. The scheme proposed by the pope was for twelve large figures of the Apostles to occupy the pendentives. However, Michelangelo negotiated for a grander, much more complex scheme and was permitted, in his own words, "to do as I liked", his scheme for the ceiling comprised some three hundred figures and took four years to execute, being completed and shown to the public on All Saints Day in 1512 after a preliminary showing and papal Mass on August 14, 1511. It has been suggested that the Augustinian friar and cardinal, Giles of Viterbo, was a consultant for the theological aspect of the work. Many writers consider that Michelangelo had the intellect, the biblical knowledge, the powers of invention to have devised the scheme himself; this is supported by Ascanio Condivi's statement that Michelangelo read and reread the Old Testament while he was painting the ceiling, drawing his inspiration from the words of the scripture, rather than from the established traditions of sacral art.
A total of 343 figures were painted on the ceiling. To reach the chapel's ceiling, Michelangelo designed his own scaffold, a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall near the top of the windows, rather than being built up from the floor. Mancinelli speculates. According to Michelangelo's pupil and biographer Ascanio Condivi, the brackets and frame that supported the steps and flooring were all put in place at the beginning of the work and a lightweight screen cloth, was suspended beneath them to catch plaster drips and splashes of paint. Only half the building was scaffolded at a time and the platform was moved as the painting was done in stages; the areas of the wall covered by the scaffolding still appear as unpainted areas across the bottom of the lunettes. The holes were re-used to hold scaffolding in the latest restoration. Contrary to popular belief, he painted in a standing position. According to Vasari, "The work was carried out in uncomfortable conditions, from his having to work with his head tilted upwards".
Gothic art was a style of medieval art that developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art in the 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, much of Southern and Central Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy. In the late 14th century, the sophisticated court style of International Gothic developed, which continued to evolve until the late 15th century. In many areas Germany, Late Gothic art continued well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art. Primary media in the Gothic period included sculpture, panel painting, stained glass and illuminated manuscripts; the recognizable shifts in architecture from Romanesque to Gothic, Gothic to Renaissance styles, are used to define the periods in art in all media, although in many ways figurative art developed at a different pace. The earliest Gothic art was monumental sculpture, on the walls of abbeys. Christian art was typological in nature, showing the stories of the New Testament and the Old Testament side by side.
Saints' lives were depicted. Images of the Virgin Mary changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more human and affectionate mother, cuddling her infant, swaying from her hip, showing the refined manners of a well-born aristocratic courtly lady. Secular art came into its own during this period with the rise of cities, foundation of universities, increase in trade, the establishment of a money-based economy and the creation of a bourgeois class who could afford to patronize the arts and commission works resulting in a proliferation of paintings and illuminated manuscripts. Increased literacy and a growing body of secular vernacular literature encouraged the representation of secular themes in art. With the growth of cities, trade guilds were formed and artists were required to be members of a painters' guild—as a result, because of better record keeping, more artists are known to us by name in this period than any previous. Gothic art emerged in Île-de-France, France, in the early 12th century at the Abbey Church of St Denis built by Abbot Suger.
The style spread beyond its origins in architecture to sculpture, both monumental and personal in size, textile art, painting, which took a variety of forms, including fresco, stained glass, the illuminated manuscript, panel painting. Monastic orders the Cistercians and the Carthusians, were important builders who disseminated the style and developed distinctive variants of it across Europe. Regional variations of architecture remained important when, by the late 14th century, a coherent universal style known as International Gothic had evolved, which continued until the late 15th century, beyond in many areas. Although there was far more secular Gothic art than is thought today, as the survival rate of religious art has been better than for secular equivalents, a large proportion of the art produced in the period was religious, whether commissioned by the church or by the laity. Gothic art was typological in nature, reflecting a belief that the events of the Old Testament pre-figured those of the New, that this was indeed their main significance.
Old and New Testament scenes were shown side by side in works like the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, the decoration of churches. The Gothic period coincided with a great resurgence in Marian devotion, in which the visual arts played a major part. Images of the Virgin Mary developed from the Byzantine hieratic types, through the Coronation of the Virgin, to more human and intimate types, cycles of the Life of the Virgin were popular. Artists like Giotto, Fra Angelico and Pietro Lorenzetti in Italy, Early Netherlandish painting, brought realism and a more natural humanity to art. Western artists, their patrons, became much more confident in innovative iconography, much more originality is seen, although copied formulae were still used by most artists. Iconography was affected by changes in theology, with depictions of the Assumption of Mary gaining ground on the older Death of the Virgin, in devotional practices such as the Devotio Moderna, which produced new treatments of Christ in subjects such as the Man of Sorrows, Pensive Christ and Pietà, which emphasized his human suffering and vulnerability, in a parallel movement to that in depictions of the Virgin.
In Last Judgements Christ was now shown exposing his chest to show the wounds of his Passion. Saints were shown more and altarpieces showed saints relevant to the particular church or donor in attendance on a Crucifixion or enthroned Virgin and Child, or occupying the central space themselves. Over the period many ancient iconographical features that originated in New Testament apocrypha were eliminated under clerical pressure, like the midwives at the Nativity, though others were too well-established, considered harmless; the word "Gothic" for art was used as a synonym for "Barbaric", was therefore used pejoratively. Its critics saw this type of Medieval art as unrefined and too remote from the aesthetic proportions and shapes of Classical art. Renaissance authors believed that the Sack of Rome by the Gothic tribes in 410 had triggered the demise of the Classical world and all the values they held dear. In the 15th century, various Italian architects and writers complained that the new'barbarian' styles filtering down from north of the Alps posed a similar threat to the classical revival promoted by the early Renaissance.
The "Gothic" qualifier for this art was first used in Raphael's letter to Pope Leo X c. 1518
The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world." The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation in history at US$100 million in 1962; the painting is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel. It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. Recent academic work suggests that it would not have been started before 1513, it was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. The subject's expression, described as enigmatic, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of forms, the atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the continuing fascination and study of the work.
The title of the painting, known in English as Mona Lisa, comes from a description by Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari, who wrote "Leonardo undertook to paint, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife." Mona in Italian is a polite form of address originating as "ma donna" – similar to "Ma’am", "Madam", or "my lady" in English. This became "madonna", its contraction "mona"; the title of the painting, though traditionally spelled "Mona", is commonly spelled in modern Italian as Monna Lisa, but this is rare in English. Vasari's account of the Mona Lisa comes from his biography of Leonardo published in 1550, 31 years after the artist's death, it has long been the best-known source of information on the provenance of the work and identity of the sitter. Leonardo's assistant Salaì, at his death in 1524, owned a portrait which in his personal papers was named la Gioconda, a painting bequeathed to him by Leonardo; that Leonardo painted such a work, its date, were confirmed in 2005 when a scholar at Heidelberg University discovered a marginal note in a 1477 printing of a volume written by the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero.
Dated October 1503, the note was written by Leonardo's contemporary Agostino Vespucci. This note likens Leonardo to renowned Greek painter Apelles, mentioned in the text, states that Leonardo was at that time working on a painting of Lisa del Giocondo. In response to the announcement of the discovery of this document, Vincent Delieuvin, the Louvre representative, stated "Leonardo da Vinci was painting, in 1503, the portrait of a Florentine lady by the name of Lisa del Giocondo. About this we are now certain. We cannot be certain that this portrait of Lisa del Giocondo is the painting of the Louvre." The model, Lisa del Giocondo, was a member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany, the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. The painting is thought to have been commissioned for their new home, to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea; the Italian name for the painting, La Gioconda, means "jocund" or "the jocund one", a pun on the feminine form of Lisa's married name, "Giocondo".
In French, the title La Joconde has the same meaning. Before that discovery, scholars had developed several alternative views as to the subject of the painting; some argued that Lisa del Giocondo was the subject of a different portrait, identifying at least four other paintings as the Mona Lisa referred to by Vasari. Several other women have been proposed as the subject of the painting. Isabella of Aragon, Cecilia Gallerani, Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla, Isabella d'Este, Pacifica Brandano or Brandino, Isabela Gualanda, Caterina Sforza—even Salaì and Leonardo himself—are all among the list of posited models portrayed in the painting; the consensus of art historians in the 21st century maintains the long-held traditional opinion that the painting depicts Lisa del Giocondo. Leonardo da Vinci is thought to have begun painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Florence, Italy. Although the Louvre states that it was "doubtless painted between 1503 and 1506", the art historian Martin Kemp says there are some difficulties in confirming the actual dates with certainty.
In addition, many Leonardo experts, such as Carlo Pedretti and Alessandro Vezzosi, are of the opinion that the painting is characteristic of Leonardo's style in the final years of his life, post-1513. Other academics argue that, given the historical documentation, Leonardo would have painted the work from 1513. According to Leonardo's contemporary, Giorgio Vasari, "after he had lingered over it four years, left it unfinished". Leonardo in his life, is said to have regretted "never having completed a single work". Circa 1504, Raphael executed a pen and ink sketch, today in the Louvre Museum, in which the subject is flanked by large columns. Experts universally agree. Other copies of the Mona Lisa, such as those in the National Museum of Art and Design in Oslo and The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore display large flanking columns; as a result, it was thought that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre had side columns and had been cut. However, as early as 1993, Zöllner observed; this was confirmed through a series of tests conducted in 2004.
The Gallerie dell'Accademia is a museum gallery of pre-19th-century art in Venice, northern Italy. It is housed in the Scuola della Carità on the south bank of the Grand Canal, within the sestiere of Dorsoduro, it was the gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, the art academy of Venice, from which it became independent in 1879, for which the Ponte dell'Accademia and the Accademia boat landing station for the vaporetto water bus are named. The two institutions remained in the same building until 2004, when the art school moved to the Ospedale degli Incurabili; the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia was founded on 24 September 1750. The first director was Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, it was one of the first institutions to study art restoration starting in 1777 with Pietro Edwards, formalised by 1819 as a course. In 1807 the academy was re-founded by Napoleonic decree; the name was changed from Veneta Academia di Pittura, Scultura e Architettura to Accademia Reale di Belle Arti, "royal academy of fine arts", the academy was moved to the Palladian complex of the Scuola della Carità, where the Gallerie dell'Accademia are still housed.
The collections of the Accademia were first opened to the public on 10 August 1817. The Gallerie dell'Accademia became independent from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia in 1879. Like other state museums in Italy, it falls under the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, the Italian ministry of culture and heritage; the Napoleonic administration had disbanded many institutions in Venice including some churches and Scuole. The Scuola della Carità, the Convento dei Canonici Lateranensi and the church of Santa Maria della Carità thus became the home of the Accademia; the Scuola della Carità was the oldest of the six Scuole Grandi and the building dates back to 1343, though the scuola was formed in 1260. The Convento dei Canonici Lateranensi was started in 1561 by Andrea Palladio, though it was never completed; the facade of Santa Maria della Carità was completed in 1441 by Bartolomeo Bon. The Gallerie dell’Accademia contains masterpieces of Venetian painting up to the 18th century arranged chronologically though some thematic displays are evident.
Artists represented include: Antonello da Messina, Lazzaro Bastiani and Giovanni Bellini, Bernardo Bellotto, Pacino di Bonaguida,Canaletto, Giulio Carpioni, Rosalba Carriera, Cima da Conegliano, Pietro Gaspari, Michele Giambono, Luca Giordano, Francesco Guardi, Johann Liss, Charles Le Brun, Pietro Longhi, Lorenzo Lotto, Rocco Marconi, Michele Marieschi, Giambattista Pittoni, Tiepolo, Titian, Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci, Alvise Vivarini, Giuseppe Zais. Media related to Gallerie dell'Accademia at Wikimedia Commons
The School of Athens
The School of Athens is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican; the Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, The School of Athens, representing Philosophy, was the third painting to be finished there, after La Disputa on the opposite wall, the Parnassus. The picture has long been seen as "Raphael's masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance"; the School of Athens is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: "Seek Knowledge of Causes," "Divine Inspiration," "Knowledge of Things Divine", "To Each What Is Due." Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry and Law.
The traditional title is not Raphael's. The subject of the "School" is "Philosophy," or at least ancient Greek philosophy, its overhead tondo-label, "Causarum Cognitio", tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle's emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers depicted sought knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, hardly a third were Athenians; the architecture contains Roman elements, but the general semi-circular setting having Plato and Aristotle at its centre might be alluding to Pythagoras' circumpunct. Commentators have suggested that nearly every great ancient Greek philosopher can be found in the painting, but determining which are depicted is difficult, since Raphael made no designations outside possible likenesses, no contemporary documents explain the painting. Compounding the problem, Raphael had to invent a system of iconography to allude to various figures for whom there were no traditional visual types.
For example, while the Socrates figure is recognizable from Classical busts, the alleged Epicurus is far removed from his standard type. Aside from the identities of the figures depicted, many aspects of the fresco have been variously interpreted, but few such interpretations are unanimously accepted among scholars; the popular idea that the rhetorical gestures of Plato and Aristotle are kinds of pointing is likely. But Plato's Timaeus –, the book Raphael places in his hand – was a sophisticated treatment of space and change, including the Earth, which guided mathematical sciences for over a millennium. Aristotle, with his four-elements theory, held that all change on Earth was owing to motions of the heavens. In the painting Aristotle carries his Ethics, which he denied could be reduced to a mathematical science, it is not certain how much the young Raphael knew of ancient philosophy, what guidance he might have had from people such as Bramante, or whether a detailed program was dictated by his sponsor, Pope Julius II.
The fresco has recently been interpreted as an exhortation to philosophy and, in a deeper way, as a visual representation of the role of Love in elevating people toward upper knowledge in consonance with contemporary theories of Marsilio Ficino and other neo-Platonic thinkers linked to Raphael. According to Vasari, the scene includes Raphael himself, the Duke of Mantua and some Evangelists. However, to Heinrich Wölfflin, "it is quite wrong to attempt interpretations of the School of Athens as an esoteric treatise... The all-important thing was the artistic motive which expressed a physical or spiritual state, the name of the person was a matter of indifference" in Raphael's time. Raphael's artistry orchestrates a beautiful space, continuous with that of viewers in the Stanza, in which a great variety of human figures, each one expressing "mental states by physical actions," interact, in a "polyphony" unlike anything in earlier art, in the ongoing dialogue of Philosophy. An interpretation of the fresco relating to hidden symmetries of the figures and the star constructed by Bramante was given by Guerino Mazzola and collaborators.
The main basis are two mirrored triangles on the drawing from Bramante, which correspond to the feet positions of certain figures. The identities of some of the philosophers in the picture, such as Plato and Aristotle, are certain. Beyond that, identifications of Raphael's figures have always been hypothetical. To complicate matters, beginning from Vasari's efforts, some have received multiple identifications, not only as ancients but as figures contemporary with Raphael. Vasari mentions portraits of the young Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, leaning over Bramante with his hands raised near the bottom right, Raphael himself, he was writing over 40 years after the painting, never knew Raphael, but no doubt reflects what was believed in his time. Many other popular identifications of portraits are dubious. Luitpold Dussler counts among those who can be identified with some certainty: Plato, Socrates, Euclid, Zoroaster, Raphael and Diogenes of Sinope. Other identifications he holds to be "more or less speculative".
A more comprehensive list of proposed identifications is given below: 1: Zeno of Citium 2: Epicurus 3: unknown 4: Boethius or Anaximander 5: Averroes 6: Pythagoras 7: Alcibiades or Alexander the Great or Pericles 8: Antisthe
Mannerism known as Late Renaissance, is a style in European art that emerged in the years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520, spreading by about 1530 and lasting until about the end of the 16th century in Italy, when the Baroque style replaced it. Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and early Michelangelo. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant; the style is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial qualities. It favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Mannerism in literature and music is notable for its florid style and intellectual sophistication; the definition of Mannerism and the phases within it continue to be a subject of debate among art historians.
For example, some scholars have applied the label to certain early modern forms of literature and music of the 16th and 17th centuries. The term is used to refer to some late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from about 1500 to 1530 the Antwerp Mannerists—a group unrelated to the Italian movement. Mannerism has been applied by analogy to the Silver Age of Latin literature; the word mannerism derives from the Italian maniera, meaning "style" or "manner". Like the English word "style", maniera can either indicate a specific type of style or indicate an absolute that needs no qualification. In the second edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters and Architects, Giorgio Vasari used maniera in three different contexts: to discuss an artist's manner or method of working. Vasari was a Mannerist artist, he described the period in which he worked as "la maniera moderna", or the "modern style". James V. Mirollo describes how "bella maniera" poets attempted to surpass in virtuosity the sonnets of Petrarch.
This notion of "bella maniera" suggests that artists who were thus inspired looked to copying and bettering their predecessors, rather than confronting nature directly. In essence, "bella maniera" utilized the best from a number of source materials, synthesizing it into something new; as a stylistic label, "Mannerism" is not defined. It was used by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and popularized by German art historians in the early 20th century to categorize the uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century — art, no longer found to exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance. “High Renaissance” connoted a period distinguished by harmony and the revival of classical antiquity. The term Mannerist was redefined in 1967 by John Shearman following the exhibition of Mannerist paintings organised by Fritz Grossmann at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1965; the label “Mannerism” was used during the 16th century to comment on social behaviour and to convey a refined virtuoso quality or to signify a certain technique.
However, for writers, such as the 17th-century Gian Pietro Bellori, "la maniera" was a derogatory term for the perceived decline of art after Raphael in the 1530s and 1540s. From the late 19th century on, art historians have used the term to describe art that follows Renaissance classicism and precedes the Baroque, yet historians differ as to whether Mannerism is a movement, or a period. By the end of the High Renaissance, young artists experienced a crisis: it seemed that everything that could be achieved was achieved. No more difficulties, technical or otherwise, remained to be solved; the detailed knowledge of anatomy, light and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, the innovative use of the human form in figurative composition, the use of the subtle gradation of tone, all had reached near perfection. The young artists needed to find a new goal, they sought new approaches. At this point Mannerism started to emerge; the new style developed between 1510 and 1520 either in Florence, or in Rome, or in both cities simultaneously.
This period has been described as a "natural extension" of the art of Andrea del Sarto and Raphael. Michelangelo developed his own style at an early age, a original one, admired at first often copied and imitated by other artists of the era. One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, subsequent artists attempted to imitate it. Other artists learned Michelangelo's impassioned and personal style by copying the works of the master, a standard way that students learned to paint and sculpt, his Sistine Chapel ceiling provided examples for them to follow, in particular his representation of collected figures called ignudi and of the Libyan Sibyl, his vestibule to the Laurentian Library, the figures on his Medici tombs, above all his Last Judgment. The Michelangelo was one of the great role models of Mannerism. Young artists stole drawings from him. In his book Lives of the Most Eminent Painters and Architects
History of Italian culture (1700s)
The 1700s refers to a period in Italian history and culture which occurred during the 18th century: the Settecento. The Settecento saw the transition from Late Baroque to Neoclassicism: great artists of this period include Vanvitelli and Canova, as well as the composer Vivaldi and the writer Goldoni; the Settecento is a word today used to describe this period Italy The first decades of the Settecento saw the ultimate end of the Renaissance movement in Italy, the last development of the Counter Reformation and Baroque era. In the 18th century, the political and socio-cultural condition of Italy began to improve, under Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, his successors; these princes were influenced by philosophers, who in their turn felt the influence of a general movement of ideas at large in many parts of Europe, sometimes called The Enlightenment. All this led to a cultural revival in the 18th century's second half: the Age of Reform. Politically Italy suffered because of the crisis of the Republic of Venice, but in the last years of Settecento Napoleon Bonaparte brought the French Revolution ideals to Italy and created in 1797 the first unitarian state in the peninsula since the early Middle Ages: the Cisalpine Republic, that in 1804 became the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.
The 18th century saw the capital of Europe's architectural world transferred from Rome to Paris. The Italian Rococo, which flourished in Rome from the 1720s onward, was profoundly influenced by the ideas of Borromini; the most talented architects active in Rome — Francesco de Sanctis and Filippo Raguzzini — had little influence outside their native country, as did numerous practitioners of the Sicilian Baroque, including Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, Andrea Palma. Luigi Vanvitelli was among the most prominent architects of Italy during this century, he built the Palace of Caserta at the request of Charles VII of Naples and worked on many other palaces and buildings like the Royal Palace of Naples the Royal Palace of Milan and the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata Maggiore. In the 18th century much sculpture continued on Baroque lines: the Trevi Fountain was only completed in 1762 after 30 years. Rococo style was better suited to smaller works, arguably found its ideal sculptural form in early European porcelain, interior decorative schemes in wood or plaster.
Antonio Vivaldi was the most important composer in Italy at the end of the Baroque period. He wrote more than 400 concertos for various instruments for the violin; the scores of 21 operas, including his first and last, are still intact. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Johann Sebastian Bach was influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias. Bach transcribed six of Vivaldi's concerti for solo keyboard, three for organ, one for four harpsichords and basso continuo based upon the concerto for four violins, two violas and basso continuo; the introduction of the symphony originated from Italian operas, called Sinfonias. Carlo Goldoni was the most important Italian literate of the Settecento, he produced over 150 comedies. Giambattista Vico and Lodovico Muratori were the most notable Italian historians of this century, while the leading figure of the literary revival in poetry was Giuseppe Parini. Count Vittorio Alfieri was an Italian dramatist and poet, considered the "founder of Italian tragedy."
Alfieri is indicated as one of the precursors of the Romanticism in Europe. Italy was affected during the Settecento by the "enlightenment", a movement, a consequence of the Renaissance and changed the road of Italian philosophy. Followers of the group met to discuss in private salons and coffeehouses, notably in the cities of Milan and Venice. Cities with important universities such as Padua and Naples, however remained great centres of scholarship and the intellect, with several philosophers such as Giambattista Vico and Antonio Genovesi. Italian society dramatically changed during the Enlightenment; the church's power was reduced, it was a period of great thought and invention, with scientists such as Alessandro Volta and Luigi Galvani discovering new things and contributing to Western science. Cesare Beccaria was one of the greatest Italian Enlightenment writers, famous for his masterpiece Of Crimes and Punishments, translated into 22 languages. In it, Beccaria put forth some of the first modern arguments against the death penalty.
His treatise was the first full work of penology, advocating reform of the criminal law system. The book was the first full-scale work to tackle criminal reform and to suggest that criminal justice should conform to rational principles; as a consequence in Italy, the first pre-unitarian state to abolish the death penalty was the Grand Duchy of Tuscany as of November 30, 1786, under the reign of Pietro Leopoldo Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II. So Tuscany was the first civil state in the world to do away with capital punishment. In 2000, Tuscany's regional authorities instituted an annual holiday on 30 November to commemorate the event; the event is commemorated on this day by 300 cities around the world celebrating Cities for Life Day. Italian Rococo art Italian Rococo interior design Cities for Life Day Trecento Quattrocento Cinquecento Seicento