Il primo libro del trattato delle perfette proporzionidi tutte le cose che imitare, e ritrarre si possano con l’arte del disegno...

13 DANTI Vincenzo Il primo libro del trattato delle perfette proporzioni di tutte le coseDANTI, Vincenzo

Firenze, (Torrentino), 1567

The only text that allows us to know the expressive poetics of Michelangelo

In 4to, pp. (8), 62, title framed in a woodcut architectonic bordure to Medici’s arms, it contains also a Florence view, the same drawed by Vasari for his first edition of the “Vite”, for Torrentino. Last white leaf missing. Bound in contemporary boards. The work is dedicated to Cosimo De’ Medici.

Extremely rare original edition of this main work on human body proportions, that reflects Michelangelo conceptions and knowledges. Danti, a fully mannerist artist, conceives this essay as an exegesis of artistic theories of human body portrayal, following the very study of anathomy and Michelangelo’s teaching.

“The introduction contains his faith profession towards Michelangelo, in a really personal mood, it’s one of the most interesting documents about Buonarroti’s cult. His intention is to explain the true and deep proportions of human body, as determined for the first time and only by Michelangelo, by his anatomy study... Michelangelo meant to write himself ananatomic work, considering uncomplete the Durer rules...(Danti) draws (beyond antiquity) to works by the man whom he was linked by a spiritual ancestry” (Schlosser 336-7).

The complete treaty, as conceived by Danti, a real monumentfor mannerism, seems to reflect the theoretical plan that Michelangelo meant to give to his work on proportions. A “thinker artist”, Danti tracks down in the order principle the basis of every proportion and beauty, and in its counterpoint, the chaos, the only one possible logic engine in armony accomplishment. His studies, here included, on moving bodies, are a fundamental artistic principle in the transition from Mannerism to Baroque.

“Refusing mathematical schemes of proportions, as proposed by Durer, Danti sees in anatomy studies a true rule to refine proportion, as he believed that perfection of Michelangelo shapes were in his comprehension of humanbody secrets” (M. Daly Davies, p. 68).

The same Danti, proudly, tells in his introduction to have dissected 83 corpses during his anatomy studies.

Vincenzo Danti (1530-76) was a higly talented sculptor; he worked at Cosimo I Duke of Florence court, and he dedicated to him his Perfect proportions treaty. For Cosimo he realized many bronze and marble sculptures. Vincenzo’s brother, Egnatio, was a well known mathematician, famous for his editions of Euclid’s Optics and the Due regole della prospettiva (1583) of Vignola. Literary credits of Vignola were acknowledged when he became member, in 1567, of  the Accademia Fiorentina, just after the publication of the first part of his Trattato delle perfette proporzioni. The work was originally intended to include 15 books, but Danti published only the first one.

“One of the major followers of Michelangelo, even if he wasn’t his pupil, (Danti) comes from a vivid talented family of vivid and he’s, in his versatility, a true Renaissance man” (Schlosser 336).

The art and theory works of Danti were strongly inspired by Michelangelo (dead in 1565).See D. Summers, Michelangelo and the language of Art, Princeton 1981, pp. 25-26.

OCLC reports copies at Getty Institute, at Folger Shakespeare Library, at National Gallery of Art, at University of Manchester.

Cicognara 317 (“A precious and deservedly rare small book, suitable to a reprint”); not in Vagnetti, De naturali et artificiali perspectiva.

E. Steinmann and R. Wittkower, Michelangelo Bibliographie,n. 539 (“von grosster Seltenheit”); Schlosser 1935 pp.336 e ss., 349, 385 e ss.; M. Daley Davis: “Beyond the Primo libro of Vincenzo Danti’s Trattato...”, in Mitteilungen des kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz, XXVI, 1982, pp.62-84.


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