During this time the city of Florence was experiencing commerce within its merchant people. There was a presence of politics and governing, the city was prosperous which tells us the government was not as shaky compared to other cities. During the mid 1500, when this print was made it was a time of High Renaissance. The church was covering its ceilings and walls with marvelous frescoes and sculptures by popular artist such as Michaelangelo and other greats. The church and political governors commission much of the art in this city and the study of the human anatomy was at itr’s peak in order to reach the perfection of the religious figures after being influenced by Italian Reanaissance. We still find classical iconography in many of the pieces, for example Michaelangelor’s David. Florence exalted this sculpture because it was their victory trophy after beating their own goliath the Duke of Milan.
Domenico del Barbiere was a well known engraver and sculpture during the High Renaissance. He also went by the name of Dominique Florentin and was born in the city of Florence in 1506 but built his career in Troyes, France, as a sculpture where he was influenced by Andrea Sansovino. Then he joined Italian artists in Fontainebleau. Where he was influenced greatly by Italian Renaissance style where he worked on frescoes and stucco-work. He became aware of a mannerism and even showed a little in some of his art works. It is also noted that he was aware of Michaelangelor’s contrapposto style because we can see it in this engraving.
No other word can describe this print to me other than Humanist. Here we see the Barnierer’s mastering of the human body engraved. This engraving is black and white used for printing and is a piece during the High Renaissance. It pictures four bodies, the two on the left are the same person in itr’s skeletal form and muscular form. The same goes for the man on the right looking to its right at the other two bodies. The only difference between their muscular forms and the skeleton belonging to them is the position of the legs and the curves of the core of their bodies. Which brings me to the contrapposto in which we find the figures in, which shows a classical style.
Barbiere engraved by using a cutting tool made out of steele called burin to make grooves in the flat surface. There were many different sizes and shapes at the ends to create different types of cuts. For the darker lining we see in this piece Barbiere may have used one that is wider and for the thinner lines found in the muscles he used sizes thinner than needles. The amount of patience in engraving every line one by one while knowing what sections need to have more cuts to define and bring volume to each muscle and bone requires a mastery of technique in handling these tools.
We find some symbolism here as well with the curtain covering the war instruments and materials cluttered on the floor representing the ambition for war. I think that this gives a negative view of the war to the viewers because he is trying to cover it up. We can cover up the deaths but we remain even more transparent like these skeletons do. Another view point is saying we are losing our humanism and in this case, the flesh, by contributing to these acts of war. Another symbol found is the laurel wreath the muscular body on the left wears on his head. This references Julius Caesar and the interest in gaining knowledge from literature during this time. This could also be referencing a poet.
The engraving leaves the viewer with an aesthetic idea about the human body and yearn for scientific knowledge that is accurate. If you compare their knowledge of the human body to todays it looks exactly the same. Even though they didnt have the technological advances we do now to see if this is really how our skeletal and muscular system looks like people had perfected the human anatomy form. This artwork also gives us history of what was going on during these times. The war over territories and the knowledge people were interested in learning about, in this case itr’s literature and science.
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