Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

Font Size: 
Giulia Crippa

Last modified: 2018-01-29


1 Introduction:


The purpose of this article is to discuss some writings of the 16th century, specifically the fourth chapter of his Idea del tempio della pittura by Giovan Paolo Lomazzo (first published in 1591), dedicated to “the ancient and modern writers of art” (Lomazzo, 1971, p. 34) and Antonio Possevino’s chapter “Painting precepts transmitted by the ancients and the moderns”, from his Tractatio de Poesi et pintura ethnica, humana et fabulosa collata cum vera, honesta et sacra (1595). Both the authors must be considered, beside the much more known Vasari, as two of the first authors which starts to elaborate systematic approaches to art authors, designing a field of knowledge through the compilation of bibliographies.

The methodological approach of the study is historical, working on the original texts, in order to understand the choices in arte literature that established the bases marked the frontiers of a field of knowledge organization (KO) called Art and designed by Art History.

Sources studies combine with literature reflections, inquiring what kind of knowledge field was designed by these authors and how it determined the development of art studies in nowadays KO.


2 About the authors and their writings.


Giovan Paolo Lomazzo (1538-1600) was a Lombard mannerist painter that shifted from practice to theory when he became blind. One of the main results of Lomazzo’s reflection is the separation between art and art theory (Venturi, 1966). In the writing we analyze here he presents a bibliographic review since Antiquity up to his days.

Jesuit Antonio Possevino (1533-1611), author of Bibliotheca Selecta, is considered “the most relevant catholic bibliographer of the XVIth century” (Ceccarelli, 1993, p. 713). Here, in the text we propose for this study, he offers a devotional review on the figurative text of his century. It is interesting to highlight that last part of this chapter is dedicated to the moral damages caused by the artistic representation of nudity.


3 Some historical questions on the Knowledge Organization in the field of Art


We detected a lack in critical study of KO in the Art field: tradition concentrates in esthetical conception through times, reading historical sources only through this interest. No big space seems to be dedicated to the constitution of indexes and repertoires of bibliographic production through the time. This means that Art History and Historiography always oriented their interests toward sources that mainly discussed esthetic and formal principles so the object of study of art, its main source, which deserved all attention, has been the order and cataloguing of art works and their reproduction. Bibliographic material has been treated with less interest. Authors concerned with art critic and theory along the history of Art field of knowledge, such as Blunt (1966), Venturi (1966) and, more recently, Fernie (1996), clearly shows this field architecture based on Renaissance. It is during this period that we come across a discipline that can be defined as Art History, somehow clearly different from previous written records. First of all, comments on art in previous writings are embedded in accounts of other subjects, while now Art become a subject on its own. Then, starting in Renaissance, a tradition of writers in art is established up to nowadays.

Still, we consider it is relevant a reflection on this firsts statements on Art, made during Renaissance, in order to understand how and why the Art field developed its own KO until it reached a systemic status in the XVIIIth century (Strassoldo, 2010): the Art System created its own rules and established its own actors, and analyzing the sources of its foundation can help to better understand its mechanisms and its present directions.



5 Final considerations: thinking Art through KO


This work goal is to contribute to understand how the Art field of knowledge organizes its epistemic piles, constituted by esthetic values, art history and art critic. In order to do this, it develops a study on two authors from the XVI century, during which we can identify an effective generation of the field of knowledge with specificity that we can identify as Art field. As any field of knowledge, Art also requires its KO and we deem it’s possible to better understand the systemic mechanism of Art through the study of the selection and compilation of bibliographies, in an epoch when the field acquires features of autonomy. Renaissance present a specific relation between art, artists and collectors, as discussed by authors such as Warnke (2001) and Pomian (2007): although the field is organizing itself as autonomous, artists still depends on courts and patrons. Only in the XVIII century we actually find a fully stated field. Still, its foundation remains linked to the propositions and the visions of the analysts and compilers of the XVIth century, and because of this we consider relevant to reflects on what appear to be the support of the structure of KO of the field of Art.


Blunt, A. (1966). Le teorie artistiche in Italia: dal Rinascimento al Manierismo. Torino: Einaudi, 1966.

Fernie, E. (1996). Art history and its methods: a critical anthology. London: Phaidon.

Lomazzo, Giovan Paolo. Degli scrittori dell’arte antichi e moderni. In: Barocchi, P, ed. (1971). Scritti d’arte del Cinquecento. Tomo I. Milano-Napoli, Ricciardi. p. 34-41

Pomian, K. (2007). Collezionisti, amatori e curiosi: Parigi-Venezia XVI-XVIII secolo. Milano: Il Saggiatore.

Possevino, Antonio. Quinam pingendi praecepta tradiderint antiqui et recentes. In: Barocchi, P, ed. (1971). Scritti d’arte del Cinquecento. Tomo I. Milano-Napoli, Ricciardi. p. 42-53.

Strassoldo, R. (2010). Da David a Saatchi: trattato di sociologia dell’arte contemporânea. Udine: Forum.

Venturi, L. (1966). Storia dela critica d’arte. Torino: Einaudi.

Warnke, M. (2001). O artista da corte: os antecedentes dos artistas modernos. São Paulo: Edusp.