December 21, 2016


The artists’ passion for the antique—Brunelleschi, Donatello and their followers—Florence, the School of Padua, Venice—Imitation, plagiarism and faking—The plaquettes and their curious transformations of some Greek and Roman originals—The character of the imitations and that of the intended victims.

There is no occasion here to lose oneself in arguments as to whether the artist was the primal cause of the awakening of the taste for the antique, or whether it was a mere synthetic translation of a sentiment already awakened through complex causes, the main one being, perhaps, classic literature. Classicism, lately developed into an entirely pagan æsthetic sentiment, a combination of Philhellenic and Latin tendencies, may as well have influenced art as life in general—a sentiment that at the moment of its maturity aroused anathematic protest from Savonarola and a momentary reaction of pietism. However, the preaching of the friar and his colossal bonfire of art treasures in Piazza della Signoria were mere incidents in the course of Florentine tendencies of art. The Piagnoni in Florence may have converted Botticelli and a few other artists, but the pagan sentiment was not dispelled. For the artist of the last part of the XVth century San Giorgio and Perseus were, if not identical, to be treated with the same artistic sentiment.

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