Trattato della pittura, e scultura, uso et abuso loro. Composto da un theologo, e da un pittore per offerirlo a’ signori accademici del disegno di Fiorenza...

12 Il manifesto del barocco OTTONELLI Giovanni Domenico BERRETTINI da CORTONA PietroILMANIFESTO DEL BAROCCO

OTTONELLI, Giovanni Domenico


Firenze, Giovanni Antonio Bonardi, 1652


In 4to, pp. (16), 420; woodcut monogram of Jesuits on title page. Bound in full contemporary vellum.Original edition. The authors’ names are given on title pageunder the anagram “Odomenigico Lelonotti e Britio Prenetteri”.

A significant work on practice of art theory, due to the collaboration between a Jesuit theologist, Ottonelli, and a painter, Pietro da Cortona. Its significance was finally highlighted by Vittorio Casale in his wide introduction and quotes to the 1973 edition for the Libreria Editrice Canova (Fonti per la storia dell’arte). As Luigi Grassi noted in hisforeword, Casale claims the earlier debates on this book tobe focused either on the clerical appearance, due to its moralisingtone, or in the figurative painting of Pietro Da Cortona.In worse cases the book was just neglected. There havebeen some attempts to attribute part of the text to Ottonellior Cortona, but the book was never considered in its totale xtent.

Considering the book as a consistent work, Casale reads thetext as a key contemporary witnesses and, at the same time,as an example of justification of baroque aesthetic.

In spite of the contraddictions between the basically antisensualelement of religious morality and the mainly artisticpleasure of expression that seems promote sensuality,the baroque aesthetic merges a highly religious purpouse –baroque was often considered as the counter-reform style –with an extremely high visual revaluation. This way, the artbecame a earthly life support to salvation of the soul. Casale establishes the term “iconocracy” to state the extraordinary power given by Ottonelli and Cortona to the visual over thewritten word. A renowned theologist points the salvationway and a great baroque painter provides the exempla tooutline the path. Ottonelli’s wisdom and his talent to smoothevery friction are merged to the deep Cortona’s professionalknowledge of painting technique, to generate a true baroque manifesto.

Giulio Carlo Argan, in his review to a reprint, defined thisbook as the “aesthetic manifesto of Baroque”.Sommervogel VI, 12; Kemp pp. 150-155; Schlosser-Magninopp. 536-543.


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