Notebook, 1993-

Alberti 'On Painting' - Prologue

Alberti, Leon Battista. On Painting. [First appeared 1435-36] Translated with Introduction and Notes by John R. Spencer. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1970 [First printed 1956].

Notes 1-6 (To the Prologue)

[pages 39-40

1. The dedication to Gianfrancesco Gonzaga of the Latin version of the treatise published by Janitschek is derived from manuscript O. The dedication also exists in manuscripts OF, RL and NC.

2. See introduction, p. 13. See also Girolamo Mancini, Vita di Leon Battista Alberti, 2nd ed. [Florence, 1911], pp. 4-16.

3. Fillippo: Filippo Bruneslleschi [1377-1446].
Donato: Donatello [c. 1386-1466]
Nencio: Lorenzo [of which Nencio is the diminutive] Ghiberti [1378-1455].
Luca: Luca della Robbia [?1400-82].
Masaccio: Tommaso di Giovanni di Simone Guidi [?1400-28]. Janitschek's identification of this man with the minor sculptor, Maso di Bartolommeo, called Masaccio, is no longer taken seriously.

4. Ogni laude di qual si sia virtù. Both laude and virtù are taken in the Latin sense used by Cicero who was frequently Alberti's source for style and terminology.

5. The building in question is the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, started 1420, not finished till 1436. The lantern was added 1446-61. Brunelleschi's problem was to roof a drum 45.52 metres in diameter [one metre wider than the dome of St. Peter's] with the least possible expense. His solution was to point his arches in profile; thus they were able to support themselves without the aid of centring until a rather high point was [p. 99] reached. The centring needed for closing the dome was easily suspended from the ribs themselves. Alberti's respect for the structure is justified; Brunelleschi's dome still dominates the Florentine territory.

6. Mallé [p. 57] reads this passage questa mia operetta di pictura. The manuscript actually reads de pictura [MI, 120r.]. Since De pictura is the title given to Alberti's treatise in all its Latin versions, and since he is here speaking of a translation, I prefer the reading De Pictura and its possible reference to the original Latin version. [pp. 99-100]



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