Le vite de’ pittori, scultori et architetti moderni

06 BELLORI Giovan Pietro Le vite de pittori scultori et architetti moderniBELLORI, Giovan Pietro

Roma, Mascardi, 1672

In 4to, pp. (12, included the engraved frontispiece), 462;contemporary binding in full calf.

A dedication to Colbert, the important stateman, patron ofarchaeology and founder of Paris Academy. With an allegoric frontispiece, a winged genie crowning Colbert’s arms,12 magnificent full page portraits - the first and last signedby Clowet – of the artists picked up by the author: Annibaleand Agostino Carracci, Domenico Fontana, Barocci, Caravaggio,van Dyck, Duquesnoy, Domenichino, Lanfranco, Algardiand Poussin.

With 14 fancy headpieces, 14 engraved initials, 13 vignettes.

Bellori (1613-1696) was a literate, an antique dealer, anddeep connoisseur of fine arts, a perfect example of classicistand erudite of his century.The “Vite” is preceded by the “Idea”, the text of a lecturekept by the author at Accademia di San Luca, under Maratta supervision, in which he displays his artistic theory, that was not only the current one, but also the one to establish some critic parameters for the study of works of art,and to create prejudices doomed to survive in centuries, and to strongly shape academic theories until the XXth Century.With Bellori is clearly affirmed, in Rome, the recovery ofRaffaello’s classicism, and therefore of what produced it, theroman antiquities, the Apollonian beauty – in the NicolasPoussin’s life two fine full page plates are dedicated to measurements (or, better, to issues), derived from Antinoo statue, here reproduced head on and by side.

The new artist that respond to Bellori’s conceptions, purpousinga less extreme baroque, appreciated by the purchaser,was Maratta (>see) of which he was a reliable biographist, and who was chosen to restore the Raffaello masterpieces, the Vatican “Stanze” and the “Loggia allaFarnesina”.

Only the first part of the “Vite” was published, while in theintroduction the author announces the second one, publishedonly in 1942 from a found manuscript.

The work is a biographies collection that, according to hisvery author, couldn’t complete the artistic landscape of XVIXVIIcenturies. The artists are chosen in the three fields ofart (painting, scultpure and architecture), according to apersonal taste responding to precise evaluation bases andreflecting the big international artistic context of Rome, portrayedalso by the three Dutch artists.

Since the premises, the wide room given to Annibale is notsurprising, while the inclusion of Caravaggio is not so obvious:Bellori acknowledges his genius and greatness, buthe blames the artist for his development of real and natural.This judgement will resent, in the following centuries, onstudy and understanding of the artist.

DBI VII, pp. 781-87; Schlosser-Magnino, it. ed. 1935, pp.401 ff., 471; Cicognara, 2206; Vagnetti E III; many referencesin Kemp.

For a deep reading of Bellori activity see also “L’idea del Bello. Viaggio per Roma nel Seicento con G.P. Bellori”, exhibition catalogue, Roma 2000. CICOGNARA, 2207.GAMBA, 1788 (nota).


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