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3rd Unit : Study Group Session “Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes of Expression”

Study Group Session“Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes of Expression”

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 On July 12, 2014, the 3rd Unit of the Ircp held a study group session on the theme “Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes of Expression” at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building6, Meeting room of School of Literature). The event marked the second meeting for the study group, whose aim is to seek out concepts of coexistence within such concrete modes of expression as the fine and visual arts. This gathering focused on a presentation by Eto Takumi (Part time lecturer at Toyo University) about “The Influence of Flemish Painting on Italian Portrait Painting of the Classical Period: Especially on the Works of Leonardo da Vinci.”

 In his talk, Eto focused on how Flemish painting contributed on the formation of classicism at the High Renaissance and on the series of portraits by Leonardo da Vinci. It is said that the three-quarter-view portrait format had its origins in Flanders. For example, there are the connection between the portrait Ginevra de’ Benci depicted by Leonardo in the 1470s and Petrus Christus’ Portrait of a Lady which was then in the collection of the Medici family. Paul Hills regarded Leonardo as the first Italian painter who recognized the contemplative character of this Flemish portrait. The plant ornament on the reverse of the portrait of Ginevra, the laurel and palm wreath, have a resemblance to the coat of arms of Bernardo Bembo, who had been in Flanders as Venetian ambassador. Based on this, Bembo may be the person who commissioned the portrait

 During his stay in Milan that began in the 1480s, Leonardo depicted such portraits as Lady with an Ermine, Portrait of a Musician and La Belle Ferronnière. The Portrait of a Musician is said to be under influence of the emotive expression of the portraits by Antonello da Messina, who learned Flemish oil painting techniques. One can also recognize a tendency in these portraits: the portraiture of sitters, whose sex can be not distinguished clearly, gradually dissolve into the idealization.

 In 1503 Leonardo, who returned to Florence in 1500, accepted a commission of a portrait from Francesco del Giocondo. He was devoted to creating the portrait of del Giocondo’s third wife, Lisa, for three years. The composition of Mona Lisa, seated on an armchair, can trace back to the picture tradition of the Madonna. Also the opening framed by two columns behind the sitter resembles that of Hans Memling’s portrait of Benedetto Portinari. In consequence, such anti-classical portrait has been completed. Mona Lisa has an uneasy visage wearing its slight Gothic smile against the fantastic background. We can find in Mona Lisa a definite resolution to the question of Heinrich Wölfflin: a fusion of the Gothic subjective idealism and the objective naturalism of the 15th century.2