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Grant number: FA-57502-13

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Mary Quinlan-McGrath
Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL 60115-2828)

Leon Battista Alberti's "De pictura (On Painting)" (1435/1436) and Its Impact on Renaissance Art

Leon Battista Alberti's De pictura has influenced the visual arts from the Renaissance through the present. In spite of a rich tradition of scholarship, opinions on its purposes and contributions are divided. This book will align the scholarly traditions by setting the understanding of light, vision, and the purpose of a painting in a context from the most physical to the most metaphysical. Alberti postulated a creator like the great Creator. Because the Creator had made the universe out of light and its mathematical laws, the painter-creator was to do the same. The naturalistic style of Renaissance painting is a by-product of this theory and its formulae, but the laws of Nature equally supported non-naturalistic styles that also flourished in Renaissance art. Alberti's ultimate concern was not the painted image but its "imago," carried on light from the painted surface. This moved into the imagination where it was to shape the soul of the viewer.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2013 – 7/31/2014