Monday, January 28, 2013


Yale Center for British Art
Jerusalem, Plate 73
Blake's eye was acutely attuned to the production and criticism of art as well as being an instrument used to access the world of vision. Of course it was the ability to portray the inner life of man in the light of visionary realities which interested him. But this required a sensitivity to the image as it was produced by the artist. Michelangelo had been an influence on Blake since his childhood when he first began scrutinizing and collecting prints. Blake saw in the Florentine the qualities he admired and wanted to emulate. He saw that the ability of the artist to accurately draw a figure using a sure and definite line was the foundation of the work of art.    

Blake was less forthcoming in expressing his opinions about the subject matter of other artists but, judging from his tastes, he did not admire frivolous or superficial artwork, whatever the reputation of the artist. Michelangelo met all his criteria for great art: ability to portray the body with subtlety and accuracy, command of his media to apply color convincingly, and awareness of the spiritual dimension which made the supreme effort of the artist worthwhile.   
Slideshare: Michelangelo and Titian

Descriptive Catalogue, PREFACE, (E 529)                        
 "THE eye that can prefer the Colouring of Titian and Rubens to
that of Michael Angelo and Rafael, ought to be modest and to
doubt its own powers.  Connoisseurs talk as if Rafael and Michael
Angelo had never seen the colouring of Titian or Correggio: They
ought to know that Correggio was born two years before Michael
Angelo, and Titian but four years after.  Both Rafael and Michael
Angelo knew the Venetian, and contemned and rejected all he did
with the utmost disdain, as that which is fabricated for the
purpose to destroy art.
  Mr. B. appeals to the Public, from the judgment of those
narrow blinking eyes, that have too long governed art in a dark
corner.  The eyes of stupid cunning never will be pleased
with the work any more than with the look of self-devoting
genius.  The quarrel of the Florentine with the Venetian is not
because he does not understand Drawing, but because he does not
understand Colouring.  How should he? he who does not know how to
draw a hand or a foot, know how to colour it.
  Colouring does not depend on where the Colours are put, but
on where the lights and darks are put, and all depends on Form or
Out-line.  On where that is put; where that is wrong, the Colouring
never can be right; and it is always wrong in Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt.  Till we get rid of Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt, We never shall equal Rafael and
Albert Durer, Michael Angelo, and Julio Romano."

Descriptions of Last Judgment, (E 560)
"Both in Art & in Life General Masses
are as Much Art as a Pasteboard Man is Human Every Man has Eyes
Nose & Mouth this Every Idiot knows but he who enters into &
discriminates most minutely the Manners & Intentions the
[Expression] Characters in all their branches is the
alone Wise or Sensible Man & on this discrimination All Art is
founded.  I intreat then that the Spectator will attend to the
Hands & Feet to the Lineaments of the Countenances they are all
descriptive of Character & not a line is drawn without intention
& that most discriminate & particular  much less an
Insignificant Blur or Mark>" 
On his website Robert Genn quotes from the biographer Giorgio Vasari: 
"When Michelangelo was introduced to Titian, he said... that Titian's 
colouring and his style much pleased him, but that it was a pity that in 
Venice men did not learn to draw well from the beginning, and that 
those painters did not pursue a better method in their studies."

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