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Professor Donahue
02 June 2015
Short Essay Question #1
In the article,
Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy,
Baxandall describes the beginning of the fifteenth century where citizens purchased already made paintings that give the greatest contentment and greatest pleasure because they serve the glory of God, the honour of the city, and the commemoration of himself (Baxandall 2­3).Baxandall indicates that clients are purchasers who do not contribute any towards paintings where as patrons asked for, paid for and found a purpose for the painting (Baxandall 1). In the beginning of the Renaissance money was of big importance in purchasing a painting, which in the middle of the century moved onto importance of skill and materials, ending with the change of how people viewed the paintings.
The fifteenth century started off being a period of bespoke painting where clients such as
Borso d’ Este pay for already made paintings by square foot and Giovanni de’ Bardi pays for materials and time (Baxandall 3­4). ‘Private’ commissioned paintings drew up contracts that both parties would have to agree on three main themes. The contracts specified what the painter was to paint, through commitment to an agreed drawing; an exact time when the client is to pay and how and when the painter is to deliver; and insists on the painters use of good quality materials. When it came to color, ultramarine was the most difficult and expensive to use after silver and gold and German blue was apart of the cheaper grades. Ultramarine had a rich violet blue in which clients stipulated about the grades of paint; German blue had less of a splendid

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colour and did not hold up well in frescos’. In 1408 when Gherardo Starnina was contracted to paint the
Life of the Virgin, he used ultramarine because in the drafted contract the client was meticulous about blue. As the century progressed pigments became less prominent and a demand for pictorial skill became more (Baxandall 14). Also as time went on, contracts became less strict and less people asked for ultramarine and if they did they specified the grade. Most clients preferred a gold frame which showed sheer opulence than previous (Baxandall 14). Near the ending of the century, the conspicuous consumption of gold and ultramarine became less important in the contracts leading people in a new direction focusing on the artist's skill
(Baxandall 15).
The common biography of a genius is a quintessential Renaissance man as beyond human, a genius that expresses itself through physical and mental gifts as well as a degree of anxiety and neurosis (Donahue 29). Leonardo and Michelangelo’s biographies are similar because they are both made up to be these two men who have extreme talent, when subjected under pressure can conform and achieve to create this beautiful masterpiece without problem.