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Renaissance Painted Art

In the art of painting, a movement took place concurrent with that we have thus briefly noticed in Renaissance sculpture. Giotto, the pupil of Cimabue, threw off the shackles of Greek tradition, and gave his whole heart to nature. His ornament, like that of his master, consisted of a combination of painted mosaic work, interlacing bends, and free rendering of the acanthus. In his work at Assisi, Naples, Florence, and Padua, he has invariably shown a graceful apprehension of the balance essential to be maintained between mural pictures and mural ornaments, both in quantity, distribution, and relative color. These right principles of balance were very generally understood and adopted during the fourteenth century; and Simone Memmi, Taddeo Bartolo, the Orcagnas, Pietro di Lorenzo, Spinello Aretino, and many others, were admitted masters of mural embellishment.

That rare student of nature in the succeeding century, Benozzo Gozzoli, was a no less diligent student of antiquity, as may be recognised in the architectural backgrounds to his pictures in the Campo Santo, and in the noble arabesques which divide his pictures at San Gimignano. Andrea Mantegna, however, it was who moved painting as Donatello had moved sculpture, and that not in figures alone, but in every variety of ornament borrowed from the antique. The magnificent cartoons we are so fortunate as to possess of his at Hampton Court, even to their minutest decorative details, might have been drawn by an ancient Roman. Towards the close of the fifteenth century, the style, of polychromy took a fresh and marked turn, the peculiarities of which, in connexion with arabesque and grotesque ornament, we reserve for a subsequent notice.

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