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Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas
170 occurrences of ideology
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170 occurrences of ideology
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The terms “individualism” and “genius” have gone
through many changes of meaning and cannot even
now be used in an unequivocal way. Individualism will
here be understood not only as “the individual pursuing
his own ends or following his own ideas” (Murray, A
New English Dictionary
[1901], V), but also as the
self-conscious, reflective conduct of single persons or
groups of persons allied by common interests, ideals,
and purposes. Genius is an infinitely more vacillating
term, and its many meanings since antiquity have been
recorded in Murray's New English Dictionary. The
concern here is primarily with the meaning the term
acquired in the course of the eighteenth century as
denoting the creative powers and outstanding original-
ity of uncommonly endowed, exalted individuals.
While the modern literature on individualism in gen-
eral is scarce and unsatisfactory and on individualism
in art and artists practically nonexistent, that on genius
is vast, diversified, and illuminating. Written mainly
by literary critics, it discusses almost exclusively poetry
and poets. Since the fifteenth century artists have be-
lieved in a close alliance between the sister arts, the
word and the picture—the Horatian Ut pictura poesis
had widest currency for over 300 years—and thus a
concentration on artistic genius without taking into
account literary criticism would tend to distort the
historical evolution.


Individualism in art and individualism of artists are
not necessarily closely related. The first problem, that
of individualism in art cannot be divorced from visual
evidence, while the second, that of the origin, history,
and vicissitudes of the individualist artist is above all
a sociological and psychological one. In the following
pages the latter problem will be more fully discussed
than the former. The entire history of art could, and
perhaps should, be written under the heading of
“Changing Aspects of Individualism in Art.” Since this
cannot be done within the compass of this article, only
three topics of particular relevance to the history of
ideas have here been singled out for brief considera-
tion: (1) the question of individual styles, (2) that of
rapid changes of style within the work of one artist, and
(3) that of the non finito, the unfinished work of art.

Individual Styles and Rapid Changes of Style. Ever
since Johann Joachim Winckelmann and more specifi-
cally since the late nineteenth century, under the influ-
ence of such scholars as Heinrich Wölfflin and Alois
Riegl, the history of art has been equated with the
history of styles, and this approach has still a great
many advocates in the third quarter of the twentieth
century. Starting from Greece and the Italian Renais-
sance, standards of judgment, terms of reference, and
a critical language have been developed, and step by
step the history of art of all cultures and periods has
been approached and investigated with similar stylistic

No one can doubt that large cultural areas (such as
Europe and China) have developed mutually exclusive
artistic conventions to which they have adhered for
very long periods of time; that there are national
(French, English), regional (Venetian, Neapolitan), and
period styles (Gothic, Renaissance), all vastly different;
and that these puzzling phenomena may be described
as bearing the mark of individualism of peoples, re-
gions, and periods. Nor can one doubt that by a strange
emotional and intellectual but basically unconscious
submission, creative individuals partake in and, at the
same time, become active heralds of the characteristic
style of their country, region, and period. Each artist
has, in fact, an individual style and a fluctuating degree
of freedom within the broader stylistic setting of the
national and period styles. It must be admitted, how-
ever, that individual styles of artists reveal idiosyncratic
traits to a varying extent at different periods and in
different cultural contexts and, moreover, that the
recognition of personal styles is often dependent not
only on the degree of study and empathy but also on
the theoretical standpoint of critics and historians. John
Ruskin abhorred individualist artists; he loved medieval
art and fully accepted the concept of the medieval
artist as the servant of God and as such lacking the
worldly pride of individualists. In contrast to this view,
which is still to be encountered, it is now common
knowledge that many masters of the Middle Ages—
great as well as mediocre—often had highly individual
manners (Schapiro, 1947). How else could we attribute
with assurance certain statues of the West porch of
Chartres to a great anonymous revolutionary, and
lesser statues to his pupils and followers. Attributing
works of art—a highly specialized art historical pro-
cedure—implies an absolute trust in the individuality
of style, without barriers of time and place.


But the conception of an individual style, the aware-
ness of it, and the wish to develop it in a definite
direction, all this was not conceivable until Renaissance
artists began to see themselves as historical beings in
a new sense, to which the writing of autobiographies,
starting with Lorenzo Ghiberti's, bears witness. It was
only then that artists were able to survey the panorama
of history and make a considered choice of their alle-
giance. No medieval artist could have expressed what
the architect Filarete (Antonio Averlino) wrote about
1460: “I ask everybody to abandon the modern tradi-
tion [i.e., the Gothic style]; do not accept counsel from
masters who work in this manner.... I praise those
who follow the ancients and bless the soul of Brunel-
leschi who revived in Florence the ancient manner of
building” (Oettingen, 1888).

The freedom of choice was accompanied by a free-
dom to change. It seems that Renaissance artists were
the first to bring about controlled changes of their
manner, not rarely even from year to year. Without
literary evidence and a highly developed technique of
analysis it would often be impossible to recognize that
a great master's works from different periods of his
career are actually by the same hand (Wittkower, “The
Young Raphael,” 1963). This is true of many artists
from Raphael on and particularly so of modern artists.
Picasso's ability to switch from a style derived from
negro sculpture to one based on Greek vase painting
and sculpture illustrates well how the freedom of
choice effects radical changes of style.

The change from a comparative stability to a com-
parative mobility of style is also reflected in a changing
approach to the training of artists. For medieval artists
the road to eminence lay in the closest possible imita-
tion of one master. Cennino Cennini, in his late medie-
val artists' manual, warned apprentices against imitat-
ing many masters, and advised them to follow one
master only, in order to acquire a good style. At the
end of the fifteenth century Leonardo reversed this
position by counselling that a painter should not at-
tempt to imitate another painter's manner. Medieval
workshop practice was eventually replaced by the
method of selective borrowing from many masters, a
method that from Vasari to the eighteenth century was
regarded as style-forming and quality-enhancing, while
since the romantic age it has been stigmatized as
eclectic. But, in fact, by the very freedom of choice
the method implies, it can enhance individualism of
style, as it does if Picasso's case.

It is true, however, that the freedom of choice need
not necessarily lead to heightened individualism of
style. For reasons not easily accounted for, periods
pregnant with great individualist artists alternate with
others which show a levelling in the individualism of
style. Such “lows” may be found in the second half
of the sixteenth century in Italy, the second half of
the seventeenth in France and, indeed, in most other
European countries, and the first half of the eighteenth
in England. Somewhat similar observations led Clive
Bell, in his spirited and not yet forgotten book Art
(London, 1914) to the not entirely paradoxical conclu-
sion that Giotto was at once the climax and anticlimax
of medieval individualism: “For Giotto heads a move-
ment towards imitation.... Before the late noon of
the Renaissance, art was almost extinct” (p. 148).

By contrast to the long period of the individualism
of style deliberately derived from and based upon the
serviceable repertory of a homogeneous artistic culture
(fifteenth to eighteenth century), the romantic concep-
tion of genius opened new doors to an individual ap-
proach to style. Although romantic artists often de-
luded themselves by believing that their own creations
were independent of any tradition, they surely fostered
a great richness and variety of personal styles and
enhanced the potentiality of unpredictable and sudden
changes. Moreover, the fervent romantic belief in the
uniqueness and the inviolability of the individual led
to the conviction that art is not teachable. This novel
creed had important consequences for the future course
of the history of art. Even Gustave Courbet, by no
means a romantic artist, declared: “I cannot teach my
art nor the art of any school, since I deny that art can
be taught, or, in other words, I maintain that art is
completely individual” (Goldwater and Treves, 1947).
Such views help us to understand the peculiar devel-
opment of art in the nineteenth century, when a gulf
opened between the great individualist works of the
chosen few and an impersonal art production: the
autonomous, creative artist stood aside, while many
young artists had to submit to the collective discipline
of the academies.

The Non Finito. The non finito affords perhaps an
even deeper insight into the process of individ-
ualization than do problems of style. Unfinished Egyp-
tian, classical, and medieval works have come down
to us, but it can be said with complete confidence that
they were meant to be finished and remained incom-
plete for external reasons. With Leonardo and espe-
cially Michelangelo the non finito enters a new phase,
for it now results from internal rather than external

Never before had a tension existed between the
conception and the execution of a work. But now
self-criticism, dissatisfaction with the imperfect real-
ization of the inner image, the gulf between mind and
matter, between the purity of the “Platonic idea” and
the baseness of its material realization—often the sub-
ject of Michelangelo's sonnets—prevented these mas-


ters from finishing some of their works. They would,
however, never have claimed that unfinished creations
can be regarded as finished (Barocchi, 1962; Tolnay,

A shift from this position to one intimately con-
nected with expanding individualism culminates in the
nineteenth century in the unfinished work by Rodin
and others. Here the non finito is often due to a delib-
erate decision to bring the creative process to an end
at a moment of the artist's choice, so that the torso,
the roughly-hewn work, the half-finished picture, the
sketchy execution are the finished product. Rodin
commented on his Balzac: “The essential things of the
modeling are there, and they would be there in less
degree if I 'finished' more.” Thus the intentional non
requires a new form of self-analysis and intro-
spection, for the work results from a sophisticated
control of the act of creation. Moreover, if only half
is said and so much hidden and hinted at, the umbilical
cord between the work and its maker is never truly
severed. In consequence the personality of the artist
asserts itself in the work and through the work more
demandingly than in any other context and at any other
period of the history of art. By the visual evidence of
his “unfinished-finished” work the artist requests the
public to follow him even where his goal seems indis-
tinct or when he seems beset with problems peculiar
to him alone. And the public is prepared to respond
and pay due regard to the artist's genius, sure in the
conviction that all he creates is important and worth
the effort of interpretation and assimilation. Such con-
siderations would seem to blur the dividing line be-
tween art and artist. Similarly, some of the points made
in the part of this article on Individualism of Artists
might, with a slight change of emphasis, have found
a place in the present section.


1. Antiquity and Middle Ages. The image of the
individualist artist is tied to the elevation of practi-
tioners from the rank of mere craftsmen to the level
of emancipated creators. Such a change has come about
twice in the history of Western art: in fourth-century
Greece and again in fifteenth-century Italy. A process
of individualization began even earlier in Greece.
Pliny, our main source for Greek artists, reports that
the mid-sixth-century B.C. architect and sculptor,
Theodoros of Samos, cast a bronze self-portrait “famed
as a wondrous likeness” (Pliny, xxxiv, 83; Sellers, 1896).
And the fifth century B.C., the classical period of Greek
art, saw the rise of a diversified literature by artists
on art (Overbeck, 1868; Sellers, 1896; Kalkmann, 1898).
Apelles' teacher, Pamphilos (ca. 390-340 B.C.), was the
first painter who could boast an all-round education
and a special knowledge in arithmetic and geometry
(Pliny, xxxv, 76), and we have it on good authority that
artists during this period wanted to appear as gentle-
men in dress and mien: Zeuxis is reported to have
amassed great wealth and to have displayed his name
woven in golden letters into the embroideries of his
garments, and his rival, Parrhasios, who lived in luxury,
indulged in similar extravagances (Pliny, xxxv, 62, 71).
But despite the highly developed self-esteem of artists,
public recognition was lacking.

The Greeks felt contempt for those who had to toil
with their hands for money; they hardly ranked them
higher than slaves. It was the skill of the craftsman
that was valued (Poeschel, 1925; Schweitzer, 1925;
Zilsel, 1926), and artists, therefore, were mentioned in
the company of barbers, cooks, and blacksmiths.
Moreover, both Plato and Aristotle assigned to the
visual arts a place much below music and poetry.
Plato's doctrine of divine enthusiasm had room for
poets and musicians but not for artists. Nevertheless,
in the fourth century B.C., i.e., in Aristotle's days, the
public's attitude began to change.

Characteristically, at the end of the fourth century
the historian Duris of Samos wrote a book on the Lives
of Painters and Sculptors
and this work, of which only
a few fragments have survived, inaugurated the bio-
graphical literature on artists, implying an interest in
artists' personalities and individual idiosyncrasies.
There are many other indications to show that the
respect for the individual creator superseded that for
the anonymous craftsman. The Stoics as well as such
authors as Philostratus (ca. A.D. 170-245) and Pausanias
(late second century A.D.) acknowledged that, just like
poets, painters experienced inspiration and ecstasy
(Schweitzer, 1925). Masterpieces now found eager bid-
ders; an interest in art and involvement in art criticism
became a status symbol. It is credibly reported that
Alexander the Great and his court painter Apelles were
tied by bonds of friendship (Pliny, xxxv, 85). Later, such
Roman emperors as Nero, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurel-
ius regarded painting and sculpting as a suitable pas-
time for themselves. In spite of all this, the old philo-
sophical and social traditions never ceased to assert
themselves; we find them reflected as late as the first
century A.D. in Plutarch's well known dictum “We
enjoy the work and despise the maker” (Pericles i, 4, 5;
Dresdner, 1915); or even a hundred years later in
Lucian's assessment that by becoming a sculptor “you
will be nothing but a labourer... one of the swarming
rabble... whatever your achievement you would be
considered an artisan, a craftsman, one who lives by
the work of his hands” (Somnium, 9).

With the decline and fall of Rome the modest
“breakthrough” of the artist was soon forgotten and


for many centuries he was once again reduced to the
status of artisan and craftsman. This is certainly true,
although we now know that the Victorian image of
the medieval craftsman, content to be an anonymous
member of his lodge and devoted to his work for the
glory of God alone, is a myth unsupported by historical
facts. Many names of medieval artists have come down
to us and even at the darkest period there were masters
of distinct individuality such as S. Eligius, who died
as Bishop of Noyon in 658; before having taken the
vows he had won fame as an artist of remarkable
accomplishments. It is recorded that he was a passion-
ate reader, that he loved precious jewelry and gorgeous
gowns, that he kept servants, and was surrounded by
devoted pupils (Schlosser, 1891). From the eleventh
century onward the names of artists abound and, judg-
ing from some of their self-laudatory inscriptions—such
as those of Rainaldus, one of the architects of Pisa
Cathedral (after 1063), or of Lanfrancus, at Modena
Cathedral (1099)—we may safely assume that they had
a high opinion of their own merits and achievements
(Jahn, 1965). Epithets such as doctus, expertus, probus,
sapiens, prudens, praestans,
and artificiosus, frequently
found in early documents and inscriptions should,
however, not be too highly valued as individual char-
acterizations but should, rather, be regarded as refer-
ring to the expert handling of execution. While some
medieval masters rose to positions of trust and distinc-
tion, while some architects in particular attained social
advancement and high honors, the rank and file of
artists were, in the words of Bishop Otto von Freising
(d. 1158), not admitted to higher positions and were
kept away “like the plague... from more honorable
and liberal studies” (Booz, 1956).

When from the thirteenth century onward the urban
working population of western Europe became in-
creasingly organized in guilds, artists could not easily
assert their individuality; in the fourteenth century and
even in the fifteenth the guilds tended to control the
whole man, from the education of apprentices to the
exercise of jurisdiction. Nor did they omit to look after
the physical and moral conduct of their members. Thus
there are good grounds to argue that the guilds had
an equalizing influence, for artists were de jure and
de facto craftsmen with a well-regulated training and
a well-regulated daily routine. On the other hand, it
cannot be denied that the city breeds individualism,
and it is against the very background of the guild-
controlled craftsman that the personality problems of
Renaissance artists appear revolutionary and emphat-
ically real. It would seem that Jacob Burckhardt's
famous thesis of the liberation of the individual in the
age of the Renaissance remains valid, especially in the
field of the visual arts, although Burckhardt excluded
this aspect from his Civilization of the Renaissance

2. Renaissance Individualism. The Renaissance
artists' protracted revolt against the guilds was a fight
on several fronts: a fight for social recognition, for the
recognition of art as an intellectual rather than a man-
ual occupation; a fight for the inclusion of painting,
sculpture, and architecture among the disciplines of
the liberal arts; a fight, moreover, for the right of free
men to look after themselves and act as their con-
sciences dictated. In retrospect, it does not seem aston-
ishing that it was in Florence, the most advanced
city-state in Europe, where the individualized artist
showing many modern traits first evolved. The new
class of merchant patrons with their highly developed
individualism, their sense of liberty and enterprise,
their progressive and competitive spirit, found in their
artists an attitude towards life which they themselves
cherished. In this congenial intellectual climate artists
first insisted upon their rights as free individuals in a
manner that was somewhat unpredictable and not
always beyond reproach.

The first memorable case of a challenge of the guild
laws is that of the great Filippo Brunelleschi. He re-
fused to pay his dues and on 20 August 1434 was
thrown into prison (Fabriczy, 1892). But Brunelleschi's
self-assured disobedience ended in victory. He was
released after a few days and no interference in his
work at the cupola of Florence Cathedral is recorded.
This victory had symbolic significance; it was followed
by many others. A wealth of documents shows how
relentlessly and against what odds the artists carried
on their struggle for emancipation. In France the guilds
defended their rights stubbornly until Colbert's reor-
ganization in 1663 of the Académie Royale de Peinture
et de Sculpture
(founded in 1635), spelled an end to
their power. In England most painters remained low-
class tradesmen even longer than in France; as “face-
painters” they were organized in the Painter-Stainers
Company on an equal footing with coach-painters and
house-painters (Wittkower, 1968). Not until well into
the eighteenth century, when William Hogarth took
up their cause and the Royal Academy was inaugurated
with Sir Joshua Reynolds in the President's chair (1768),
did British artists achieve a freedom comparable to that
of their Italian confrères of 200 years before.

The process of individualization, first observable in
fifteenth-century Florence, has to be approached from
the viewpoint of the artist as well as the public. Early
in that century, the painter Cennino Cennini wrote
a basically medieval craftsman's manual entitled Il libro
in which he exhorted his fellow painters to
emulate the dignity and temperance of scholars
(Cennini, 1932). Otherwise Cennini's work contains


mainly technical recipes. But at the same moment in
time a new kind of literature on art written by artists
arose. Its first product, Leon Battista Alberti's On
(De pittura), written in 1436, a prophetic work
of great perspicacity, contains the program of the
modern emancipated artist. His art must be given a
firm theoretical foundation, for it ranks equal with
poetry and the theoretical sciences; and the artist him-
self has to be a man of immaculate character and great
learning. In addition, Alberti regards polite manners
and an easy bearing as marks of personality that elevate
the artist above the craftsman with his virtues of mere
industry and technical skill. Alberti's contemporaries
delved into theoretical studies with great eagerness and
many tried their hand in the writing of treatises. The
sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti composed a monumental
work on art and artists that contains the first autobiog-
raphy known to have been written by an artist (Schlos-
ser, 1912). This must be regarded as a phenomenon
of utmost importance, for an autobiography means
looking at one's own life as an observer; it requires
the distance of self-reflection, and introspection be-
came an important character trait of the new race of

The new ideal of artistic personality propounded by
Alberti adumbrated a conforming, well-adjusted, and
socially integrated type, an ideal that was in fact up-
held in academic circles through the ages. But at the
same time one can also observe the emergence of the
nonconforming, alienated artist, and it is this type that
is of particular interest in the present context. As early
as the fourteenth century a certain class of literary
production in Tuscany shows an anecdotal interest in
the behavior of artists. In Boccaccio's Decamerone and,
above all, in the Tuscan novelle, artists appear mainly
as the perpetrators of entertaining and burlesque prac-
tical jokes. For Boccaccio a painter was a man full
of fun, high-spirited, quite shrewd, of somewhat lax
morals, and not burdened by much learning. And in
one of Franco Sacchetti's novelle one finds a painter's
wife exclaiming: “You painters are all whimsical and
of ever-changing mood; you are constantly drunk and
are not even ashamed of yourselves!” (Sacchetti, 1946).
This remarkable statement sounds like a prophetic
definition of the Bohemian artist, and it is certainly
true that such anecdotes would have been neither
invented nor read if they had not echoed a popular
reaction to artists. But in contrast to the anecdotal topoi
in the Tuscan novelle (Kris and Kurz, 1934), the literary
image of the artist from the fifteenth century onward
loses its jolly and light-hearted connotations and pre-
sents us with serious problems of individualization.

Owing to the rich and, as time went on, steadily
growing literary production concerning artists, some
general observations regarding these problems can
safely be made. Instead of being subjected to the regu-
lated routine of the workshop, the Renaissance artist
was often on his own and developed characteristics
compatible with his freedom. Now periods of most
concentrated and intense work often alternated with
unpredictable lapses into idleness. The vacillation be-
tween obsession with work and creative pauses became
the prerogative of free individuals who felt that they
were ultimately responsible only to themselves. Vasari,
whose Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti
(first published in 1550) was the accepted model of
historical writing on art for over 200 years, conveys
the impression that his Tuscan countrymen showed a
greater obsession with their work than others, and since
they were the proud and conscious pioneers of an
entirely new approach to art, he may not have been
wrong at all. The corollary to obsession with one's work
is indifference to dress, cleanliness, food, family, public
affairs; in short, to everything outside the object of the
fixation. Vasari's Lives abounds with this theme and
consequently many idiosyncratic personalities of artists
come to life. Masaccio is described as careless and
absentminded, entirely unconcerned about worldly
matters; Luca della Robbia, we are told, dedicating
himself day and night to his work, patiently bore phys-
ical discomfort; Paolo Uccello entirely disregarded the
affairs of the world and lived like a hermit, intent only
on unravelling the laws of perspective; Bartolomeo
Torri from Arezzo, a pupil of Giulio Clovio, had to
be turned out of the latter's house because he was so
enamored of the study of anatomy that he kept pieces
of corpses all over his room and even under his bed.
It matters little whether such tales are true or merely
anecdotes. For Vasari, his contemporaries, and suc-
ceeding generations such anecdotes helped to elucidate
individual character traits of artists of distinction.

The emancipated artist needed introspection, and
introspection necessitates pauses, often of considerable
length. Early reports about such unaccustomed behav-
ior in artists are not very frequent, but some are grati-
fyingly explicit. A contemporary of Leonardo has left
us a vivid description of the latter's procedure when
painting the Last Supper. According to this eye-witness
report Leonardo often stayed on the scaffolding from
dawn to dusk without putting down his brush, forget-
ting to eat and drink, painting all the time. Then, for
two, three, or four days he would not touch his work
and yet he would stay there, sometimes an hour, some-
times two hours a day wrapped in contemplation
(Flora, 1952). Similarly, Jacopo da Pontormo would
set out to work in the morning and return in the
evening “without having done anything all day but
stand lost in thought” (Vasari, VI, 289). The sculptor


Giovan Francesco Rustici, a remarkable individualist
who had studied with Leonardo, contrasted the daily
toil of workmen with the responsibility of the artist:
“Works of art cannot be executed without long reflec-
tion” (Vasari, VI, 600). Such a statement, that may
nowadays appear hackneyed, could not be experienced
and verbalized until the Renaissance emancipation of
the artist.

Introspection requires solitude, and solitude and
secrecy became the hallmark of many artists. Petrarch
as well as Erasmus attest that the intellectual recluse
of the Renaissance felt the pangs of isolation. When
artists aligned themselves with scholars and poets, they
developed symptoms, often to an excessive degree, of
the class they joined. Michelangelo never allowed any-
one, not even the Pope, to be near him while he
worked. Artists like Piero di Cosimo, Pontormo, and
many others behaved similarly. Leonardo justified this
kind of conduct. “The painter,” he wrote, “must live
alone, contemplate what his eye perceives and com-
mune with himself” (Ludwig, 1888). And Rustici gave
reasons why one should never show one's work to
anyone before it was finished (Vasari, VI, 600). A breach
of secrecy aroused Franciabigio to such a pitch of anger
that he damaged some figures of his fresco of the
Marriage of the Virgin (SS. Annunziata, Florence) with
a bricklayer's hammer. The result can be seen to this
day. Tintoretto, a pleasant and gracious person, was
of an extremely retiring disposition. He rarely admitted
friends to his studio, “let alone other artists, nor did
he ever let other painters see him at work” (Ridolfi,
1914). At the threshold of the romantic age Goya
talked persuasively about the “looking-into-himself,”
the spiritual monologue. This attitude would seem a
sure sign of a highly developed individualism. No one
reveals this more clearly than the most individualistic
artist of the Renaissance and maybe of all time,
Michelangelo Buonarroti. The essence of the problem
that moved him to the core is perhaps contained in
the three lines of a sonnet that remained a fragment:

Entire understanding none can have
Before he has experienced the immensity
Of art and life

(Frey [1897], lxxx, 2).

That experience can only be won in isolation, and
isolation spells agony. His suffering, his distress of mind
is the thread that runs through many of his letters. As
a man of seventy-four he writes to a friend: “You will
say that I am old and mad; but I answer that there
is no better way of keeping sane and free from anxiety
than being mad” (Milanesi, 1875). At the same period
he put the paradox differently in a famous sonnet:

Melancholy is my joy
And discomfort is my rest

(Frey [1897], lxxi).

There is no doubt that the agonized revelling in self-
reflection was, at times at least, a satisfying experience
for Michelangelo.

Michelangelo's personality hardly less than his art
has fascinated and puzzled people for close to 500
years. Every possible epithet has been attached to his
name, but in spite of the contradictory light in which
he appeared to his contemporaries as well as to poster-
ity, all agree that he was an eccentric endowed with
a most difficult nature. “He is terrible, as you can see,
and one cannot deal with him,” Pope Julius II once
said during an audience (Gaye, 1839). Michelangelo's
terribilità became proverbial, to indicate both the tor-
mented impetuosity of his character and the sublimity
of his art.

Eccentricity, however, was not Michelangelo's pre-
rogative, as many tend to believe. From the fifteenth
century onward it was regarded as a characteristic of
artists as a professional group. The cases of Piero di
Cosimo and Pontormo stand out among many others.
Both had misanthropic habits of the oddest kind. Piero
di Cosimo was held by many to be rather mad, and
Pontormo, “solitary beyond belief” was, as his diary
kept from 1554 to 1556 reveals, an almost insane hy-
pochondriac. Even minor artists such as Graffione
Fiorentino attracted attention because of their eccen-
tric behavior, while others led by a certain Jacone, a
pupil of Andrea del Sarto, went all out to épater le
As their contemporary Vasari (VI, 451) tells
“... under the pretence of living like philosophers,
they lived like swine and brute beasts... this misera-
ble existence of theirs... was held by them to be the
finest in the world.”

3. The Post-Renaissance Gentleman-Artist. The list
of eccentricities in which artists indulged is long, var-
ied, and well-documented (Wittkower, Born Under
..., 1963). And the reality of this new type
of artist is thrown into relief by the violence of the
reaction against it. As early as the middle of the six-
teenth century the nonconforming artist with his
foibles and extravagances was no longer fashionable.
It was then felt that artists should unobtrusively merge
with the social and intellectual elite. Vasari himself,
to whom any form of excess was anathema, resorted
in his biography of Raphael to a technique of ideal-
ization: he depicted Raphael as the acme of moral and
intellectual perfection. According to him there was no
greater contrast than that between Raphael's grace,
learning, beauty, modesty, and excellent demeanor and


the majority of artists who showed a detachment from
reality, and displayed eccentricity admixed with mad-
ness and uncouthness (Vasari, IV, 315). Even before this
was written, the Portuguese painter Francisco de
Hollanda, who was in Rome between 1538 and 1540
and put in literary form the talks he supposedly had
with Michelangelo, ascribed the following statement
to the great master, surely in order to give it the weight
of highest authority:

People spread a thousand pernicious lies about famous
painters. They are strange, solitary, and unbearable, it is
said, while in fact they are not different from other human
beings. Only silly people believe that they are eccentric
and capricious

(Hollanda, 1899).

In the second half of the sixteenth century the pro-
scription of the eccentric artist was rather general.
Most revealing passages are to be found in G. B.
Armenini's Dei veri precetti della pittura (1587) and
G. P. Lomazzo's Idea del tempio della pittura (1590).
Artists are strongly advised to keep away “from the
vices of madness, uncouthness, and extravagance, nor
should they aim at originality by acting in a disorderly
way and using nauseating language....” Thus from
the mid-sixteenth century on writers disavowed artists
who displayed conspicuously a nonconforming behav-
ior; instead they created and advocated a new image
of the artist: the conforming, well-bred, rational phi-
losopher-artist, who is richly endowed by nature with
all the graces and virtues. From then onward artists
saw themselves in the role of gentlemen, and the public
complied with this idea. Although the anti-conven-
tional artist had come to stay, it may be claimed that
great gentlemen and great individualists such as Rubens
and Bernini, Lebrun and Reynolds embody most fully
the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ideal of the
artist as a versatile, unaffected, well-bred, captivating
man of the world. Much as they differed from each
other, these masters were all great individualists who
left an imprint on their time and later ages, not only
because of their art and through their art but also
because of their powerful personalities.

As early as the 1540's Francisco de Hollanda makes
Vittoria Colonna say that those who knew Michel-
angelo had greater esteem for his person than for his
work. Rubens' affability and prudence, erudition and
eloquence, alert mind, broad culture, and all-embrac-
ing intellect shine forth after centuries just as does
Bernini's spirited Italian individualism, gracing a man
of infinite charm, a brilliant and witty talker, fond of
conviviality, aristocratic in demeanor and “passionate
in his wrath,” as his son Domenico reports. Bernini's
triumphal procession from Rome to Paris in 1665 at
the invitation of Louis XIV was not only an ovation
to the greatest artist then alive and to a truly impres-
sive personality, but also illustrates most vividly the
revolutionary reassessment of art and artists that had
come about in less than 200 years. Indeed, the peak
then reached in the estimation of artistic genius has
hardly ever again been equalled. Nowadays no govern-
ment would take so much trouble to look after a trav-
eling artist and architect. Unlike Colbert, prime minis-
ters would scarcely go out of their way to make his
stay agreeable.

Among eighteenth-century artists, it was Sir Joshua
Reynolds who, in his country, attained a standing and
success comparable to Bernini's. Although he came
from a family of modest means and although neither
lavish praise nor public honors, neither his knighthood
nor his presidency of the Royal Academy changed his
essentially middle-class bearing, he “certainly con-
trived”—as his pupil James Northcote wrote—“to
move in a higher sphere of society than any other
English artist had done before. Thus he procured for
Professors of the Arts a consequence, dignity, and
reception, which they had never before possessed in
this country” (Northcote, 1818). At his death in 1792
a whole nation bowed before the achievement of this
great man. Three dukes, two marquesses, three earls,
and two lords were his pallbearers; ninety-one car-
riages, conveying all the members of the Royal Acad-
emy and scores of distinguished luminaries followed
the body to its resting place in St. Paul's Cathedral.

4. Academicians and Bohemians. The sixteenth
century has been called the century of the academies
and, indeed, before the end of the century some acade-
mies of art were founded. Appropriately, the first one
came to life in Florence in 1563 (Accademia del Di-
) with Vasari as its initiator and organizer. The
new type of gentleman-artist would be unthinkable
without the rising social and educational institutions
of the art academies which saw their heyday between
the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries. Looking
back from the position of the academic artist, the plight
of his pre-academic colleague can be more easily un-
derstood. Not unlike the medieval artist, the acade-
mician enjoyed the benefit of a professional orga-
nization, a center toward which his life gravitated. The
Renaissance artist, by contrast, partaking no longer in
the old and not yet in the new social structure, had
to fend for himself. The Renaissance artist's fight for
liberation from the encumbrances of the guilds was
reenacted in the romantic artist's fight for liberation
from the ties of the academy. Just as the individualism
of the Renaissance artist put an end to the sheltered
position of the late medieval craftsman, so the new


romantic vocabulary—enthusiasm, naïveté, spontane-
ity, feeling, autonomy of artistic creation, intuition,
totality of vision, and so forth—reversed many basic
tenets of the academic artist. The specter arose of the
artist as a kind of being elevated above the rest of
mankind, alienated from the world and answerable in
thought and deed only to his own genius: the image
of the Bohemian took shape, fostered as much by the
previous hit ideology next hit and conduct of the artist as by the reaction
of the society on the fringe of which he lived. Thus
we see toward the end of the eighteenth century and
at the beginning of the nineteenth problems of person-
ality in the making, which, under kindred circum-
stances, had beset the artists of the Florentine Renais-
sance. With good reason, therefore, one may talk of
a proto-Bohemian period around and after 1500 sepa-
rated from the Bohemian era proper by the centuries
of the conforming artist.

5. Romanticism and its Aftermath. By and large,
Renaissance and post-Renaissance artists regarded the
business of art as an intellectual discipline. The intel-
lectual responsibilities artists took upon themselves had
a noticeable influence upon forming their minds and
personalities. With Michelangelo, they believed that
“a man paints with his brain,” and with Leonardo they
agreed that “painting has to do with natural philoso-
phy,” that it is “truly a science,” and that a painter
had “first to study science and follow with practice
based on science.” Not until the second half of the
eighteenth century does a shift away from intellectual-
ism toward an intuitive approach begin to predomi-
nate. The revolt came into its own when an artist such
as William Blake vented his scorn against the reign of
Reason with these lines:

All Pictures that's Painted with Sense and with Thought
Are Painted by Madmen as sure as a Groat

(Keynes, p. 660).

Romanticism with its “egomania” brought about a most
serious change in the personality of artists. A romantic
pedigree is recognizable in the untrammeled individ-
ualism of many twentieth-century artists and in their
personality and social problems, though it must be
admitted that the freedom they arrogate to themselves
is in the last analysis derived from the revolution of
the Italian Renaissance, the period in history on which
they heap the fullness of their scorn.

When the psychologists entered the arena, artists,
backed by an “authoritative” analysis of the psyche
and armed with an up-to-date vocabulary, could state
with confidence the case for self-expression unencum-
bered by book-learning. Artists of the Freudian and
post-Freudian era claim a degree of subjective and
moral freedom that would bewilder even their roman-
tic precursors. When Pablo Picasso says that “the artist
is a receptacle of emotions come from no matter
where,” or Marc Chagall comments on his pictures “I
do not understand them at all.... They are only
pictorial arrangements that obsess me,” or Mark
Rothko strives to eliminate all obstacles “among others,
memory, history, or geometry” (Wittkower, Born
Under Saturn,
1963), or Jackson Pollock maintains
“When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what
I am doing” (Read, 1967)—they may emphasize and
cultivate the emotional element in their creations, but
theirs is a very conscious surrender to the unconscious.
Contrary, however, to the artists' own belief, “auto-
matism” in art does lead to a loss of artistic individ-
uality. Nevertheless, even though a doodle by Picasso
or Klee may lack a distinct personal quality, one cannot
argue that the public is deceiving itself by paying high
prices for such works. For, obviously, the public places
the artist above the work: it is the name that works
the magic. Behind the name looms the man, the great
artist, in whose integrity we believe and of whose
genius we are convinced.


In the present context “individualism” and “genius”
are sister terms and considerations of the one implicitly
illuminate the other. This is particularly striking when
we consider some of the roots of the modern concep-
tion of genius that emerged in the course of the eight-
eenth century.

1. Natural Talent. In his History of Modern Criticism
René Wellek said: “The terms 'genius,' 'inspiration,'
poeta vates, furor poeticus are the stock in trade of
Renaissance poetics, and even the most rigid critic...
never forgot to say that poets need 'inspiration,' 'imag-
ination,' 'invention'.... They believed in a rational
theory of poetry but not that poetry was entirely ra-
tional.” All the terms here mentioned are closely tied
up with the concept of genius, but the key to the ideas
later associated with original genius is to be found in
the irrational element always acknowledged in poetry
and art. The idea that the poet is born with his talent
had first taken shape in Hellenistic thought, when
writers and artists first became conscious of the vital
importance of individual artistic endowment (Schweit-
zer, 1925). The concept appears in the writing about
art theory even before the publication in 1554 of
Longinus' Peri hupsous (On the Sublime), which ex-
erted a steadily growing influence on literary criticism
(Monk, 1935). According to Leonardo painting “cannot
be taught to those not endowed by nature” (Richter,
1939). The great Aretino was a passionate champion
of inborn artistic genius; he voiced his view repeatedly


and in a letter of 1547 expressed epigrammatically:
“Art is the gift of bountiful nature and is given to us
in the cradle” (Aretino, 1957). His friend Lodovico
Dolce, also a Venetian, in his Dialogue on Painting
(1557) made this opinion his own, and later art critics
such as G. P. Lomazzo (1590) reiterated that “those
who are not born painters can never achieve excellence
in this art.” Thereafter this view became an often
repeated topos (Kris and Kurz, 1934).

If the artist owes his individual talent to a gift of
the gods, his art, too, defies rational analysis. Ancient
authors—Cicero, Quintilian, Pliny—made allowance
for the irrational element in works of art and called
it venustas (“grace”). From the sixteenth century on-
ward classical art theory was permeated with this
concept. “Grace” for the Italians from Baldassare
Castiglione to Vasari and beyond was un non so che,
which in the French theory of the seventeenth century
became the je ne sais quoi and in England, in Pope's
immortal phrase, “A Grace beyond the Reach of Art”
(Monk, 1944).

Critics and artists of the Renaissance had definite
ideas of how talent ought to be displayed. Pedantic,
slow, laborious execution smacked of the artisan's craft.
The work of the artist richly endowed by nature cannot
be measured and valued in terms of working hours
spent on manual execution. As early as the mid-
fifteenth century a distant “rumbling” may be noticed.
The Archbishop Saint Antonino of Florence explained:
“Painters claim, more or less reasonably, to be paid
for their art not only according to the amount of work
involved, but rather according to the degree of their
application and experience” (Gilbert, 1959). But it was
not until well into the sixteenth century that artists
stated with vigor that the compensation for a work
of art depended on the ingenuity and not on the length
of time that had gone into its making. Thus Michel-
angelo supposedly said to Francisco de Hollanda: “I
value highly the work done by a great master even
though he may have spent little time over it. Works
are not to be judged by the amount of useless labor
spent on them but by the worth of the skill and mastery
of their author” (Holt, 1947).

The modern artist had to perform in a way that
matched his new status, and thus we find from the
second half of the sixteenth century onward most the-
orists insisting on facility of execution, on a manner
of painting that would give the impression of rapid
work and effortless skill hiding the toil that had gone
into the making of the work of art. As early as 1550
Vasari made the memorable observation that “many
painters... achieve in the first sketch of their work,
as though guided by a sort of fire of inspiration...
a certain measure of boldness; but afterwards, in finish
ing it, the boldness vanishes” (Wittkower, 1967).
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
a number of progressive artists attempted to preserve
something of the brio of spontaneous creation, with
the result that the finish itself became sketchy. The
masters working with a free, rapid brushstroke assumed
steadily greater importance and led up to the position
of painters like Delacroix, for whom the first flash of
the idea was “pure expression” and “truth issuing from
the soul.” It was in the context of this development
that the painter's sketch as well as the sculptor's
sketchy clay model (bozzetto) were conceded the status
of works of art in their own right. The appreciation
of individual manner and style in the drawing, the
sketch, and the bozzetto—first savored by the eight-
eenth-century virtuoso—cannot, of course, be sepa-
rated from the recognition of genius emerging at the
same time.

2. Talent and Genius. But one must be careful not
to confuse talent and genius. The qualities with which
the term “genius” has been invested ever since the
mid-eighteenth century, such as spontaneity, out-
standing originality, and exceptional creativity were
not implied in the Latin ingenium and the Italian
ingegno, meaning natural disposition, i.e., talent. The
Elizabethans still employed the term ingenium, or its
counterpart at that time, “wit.” In the course of the
seventeenth century the use of the term genius in-
creased and gradually supplanted “wit,” absorbing
ingenium in the process (Kaufman, 1926). But before
the end of the seventeenth century Sir William Temple
distingushed between “high flights of wit” and “the
pure native force or spirit of genius.” Nonetheless
talent and genius remained synonyms for a considerable
time. It was only after the men of the German “Storm
and Stress” had aggressively turned their attention to
the comparatively loose English ideas on genius “that
the distinction between genius and talent... was
sharpened into the strong antithesis which is now uni-
versally current...” (Murray, New English Diction-
IV). Thus we see, about a hundred years after Sir
William Temple's time, genius and talent taking on
their present-day meanings. William Jackson in
Whether Genius be born or acquired (1798) declared
that “a man of genius must have talents, but talents
are possessed by many without it [i.e., genius]....
Genius is inventive, a creation of something not before
existing; to which talents make no pretence...”
(Kaufman, 1926). Again, about a hundred years later,
the poet James Russell Lowell laid down epigrammat-
ically: “Talent is that which is in a man's power; genius
is that in whose power a man is.”

Despite such semantic distinctions the term “talent”
has been used in the preceding paragraph to charac-


terize the pre-eighteenth-century concept of inborn
genius, because during the Renaissance the accretion
of distinct ideas defining the modern term genius were
still lacking. In the following sections these charac-
teristics will be briefly discussed, one by one.

3. Imitation and Originality. The literary criticism
of the sixteenth century knew of no breach between
originality and imitation. On the contrary, Marco
Girolamo Vida's dictum (1527) that the highest origin-
ality was the most ingenious imitation of the ancients,
quoted here in lieu of many others, had a long life
and also reverberated for a long time in the theory
of art. An Aristotelian and pseudo-Aristotelian theory
of imitation informed both literary criticism and art
theory, and to a certain extent even artistic practice
(Wittkower, 1965). It was only in the course of the
eighteenth century that some great artists differenti-
ated between copying and imitating (Anton Raphael
Mengs) or copying and borrowing (Sir Joshua Rey-
nolds). Borrowing from great masters was, according
to Reynolds, “the true and only method by which an
artist makes himself master of the profession.... Such
imitation is so far from... the servility of plagiarism,
that it is... a continual invention.” Horace Walpole,
in the Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762), val-
iantly rose in defense of the great painter concluding:
“... a quotation from a great author, with a novel
application of the sense, has always been allowed to
be an instance of parts and taste; and may have more
merit than the original.” But in the last decades of the
eighteenth century this meant defending a lost position.
A growing number of artists were in revolt. Their
criticism is epitomized in Chardin's Singe peintre
(Louvre) showing an ape who copies an antique statue
which on his canvas also turns into an ape. Hogarth,
in his famous tailpiece of the Spring Gardens Catalogue
of 1761, used the same simian formula to ridicule the
antiquarian adulation of masters of past ages.

Many artists were clamoring for a new kind of
originality, a search for new values independent of
imitation. But it was literary critics rather than artists
who defined the changed meaning of originality. The
primary contribution came from England, perhaps
influenced by Giordano Bruno's Eroici furori, published
in London in 1585 and dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney.
Bruno had a clear notion of the character of genius:
“The rules are derived from the poetry, and there are
as many kinds and sorts of true rules as there are kinds
and sorts of true poets.” Such a premiss opened up
the problem posed by Shakespeare's work: obviously,
it could not be fitted into the traditional Aristotelian
categories, and the modern alliance of originality and
genius was probably due to Shakespearean criticism.
Alexander Pope in the preface to his edition of Shakes
peare (1715) noted: “If ever any Author deserved the
name of an Original it was Shakespeare....” Charac-
teristically, “original” and “original genius” appear in
titles of books after 1750 (Edward Young, 1759;
William Duff, 1767; Robert Wood, 1769, 1775).

In one of his famous Spectator articles on Genius
(No. 160, 3 September, 1711), Addison still regarded
his subject as “so uncommon.” It was only after the
mid-century that a vigorous analysis of “genius” was
undertaken. Next to Alexander Gerard's, the most re-
markable of the many publications was Edward
Young's Conjectures on Original Composition (1759),
in which the aged author intended to show genius the
way out of the obstructions of Augustan dogma: the
“meddling ape imitation... destroys all mental indi-
viduality” was the new creed. The little book contains
such well-known and often quoted passages as “An
Original may be said to be of a vegetable nature; it
rises spontaneously from the vital root of genius; it
grows, it is not made.” What has been called Young's
“vegetable concept of genius” (Abrams, 1953) has been
looked upon askance by some modern critics (Fabian,
1966), because the links to sub-rational processes
turned genius into an occult phenomenon. But Young's
compelling language and metaphors assured his suc-
cess. The book was immediately translated twice into
German and created—as Herder wrote—an electrify-
ing effect. Young actually adumbrated the notions of
the romantic concept of genius. In his claims of origi-
nality Young had gone far beyond Duff, the author of
An Essay on Original Genius (1767), who, despite his
adulation of originality and exorcism of imitation,
demanded that an exuberant imagination must be re-
strained by a proportionate share of reason and
judgment—herein apparently following Gerard's An
Essay on Genius,
a work largely written in 1758, but
not published until 1774 (Fabian, 1966). Already in his
An Essay on Taste (1759) Gerard had made the point
that “Diligence and acquired abilities may assist or
improve genius: but a fine imagination alone can pro-
duce it.”

At the end of the century the radical dedication to
original creation found eloquent apostles in John
Pinkerton and William Blake; in their revolt against
imitation both used violent language unheard before.
In his Letters of Literature (1785) Pinkerton attacked
“the complete folly of instituting Academies of Paint-
ing... that is, Schools of Imitation. Did ever any one
good painter arise from an academy? Never....” And
Blake in his utter condemnation of Reynolds' Dis-
exclaimed “What has Reasoning to do with the
Art of Painting?” His dictum “One power alone makes
a poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision” contains the
gist of his view of genius (Keynes, p. 770).


4. Invention and Creation, Fancy and Imagination,
Spontaneity and Inspiration.
Blake may be the most
violent exponent of spontaneity and divine inspiration
but his ideas are less his own than is sometimes be-
lieved. He enthroned originality and called it imagina-
tion. The terms heading this paragraph have their own
complex history and, at the same time, they are all
closely interwoven with the growth of the concept of

“Invention,” a term of classical rhetoric, one of the
pillars of Renaissance literary and art theory (Zilsel,
1926), was, it might be said, demoted in the course
of the eighteenth century and increasingly replaced by
“creative” and “creation,” terms more indicative of the
spontaneity of genius. It has been suggested (L. Pearsall
Smith) that this changeover began with the critical
study of Shakespeare. Dryden, discussing the character
of Caliban, said: “Shakespeare seems there to have
created a person which was not in Nature, a boldness
which, at first sight, would appear intolerable.” Yet
Alexander Gerard in his Essay on Taste (1759) still
stated: “The first and leading quality of genius is in-
vention...,” and he returned to this in his Essay on
(1774): while “Genius is properly the faculty
of invention,” he wrote, “it is imagination that pro-
duces genius....” The new concise terminology ap-
peared in the Essay on Original Genius (1767) of
William Duff, who found that “creative Imagination
[was] the distinguishing characteristic of true Genius.”
Thereafter the concept “creative imagination” was
assimilated by the German Storm and Stress movement
and became a catchword during the romantic era. Kant
in the Critique of Judgment (1790) propounded au-
thoritatively: “Creative imagination is the true source
of genius and the basis of originality.”

German criticism also hammered out the distinction
between fancy (Einbildungskraft) and imagination
(Phantasie), the former referring to human awareness
and the latter, the higher power, to “divine infusion.”
Coleridge, steeped in German aesthetic speculations,
likewise distinguished genius and imagination from the
lower faculties, talent and fancy (Wellek [1955], II).
And Ruskin still accepted these distinctions.

It was also in eighteenth-century criticism that the
vital function of spontaneity and inspiration was con-
stantly reiterated. William Sharpe in his Dissertation
on Genius
(1755), the first book on the subject, re-
marked on the natural untrained powers of genius.
Edward Young (1759) laid down that genius creates
“spontaneously from the vital root” of our individual
natures. George Colman in his papers on Genius pub-
lished in The St. James Chronicle (1761-62), claimed
that “A Genius is a character purely modern, and of
so late an origin that it has never yet been described
or defined....” He recognized egotistical reliance on
untutored spontaneity as a hallmark of genius
(Kaufman, 1926). William Duff (1767) singled out irre-
sistible spontaneity. This list could be endlessly pro-
longed, for next to the emphasis on originality and
creative imagination, spontaneity and inspiration were
basic to the cult of genius. No more need be said here
since a great deal of ingenuity has been devoted by
modern scholars to an epistemological exploration of
these terms. But a few comments on other charac-
teristics of genius are in place.

5. Genius without Learning. While Renaissance and
post-Renaissance theory could not envisage great
achievement without the control of the reasoning
faculties and without solid intellectual grounding, those
who shaped the new concept of genius created a thor-
oughly anti-intellectual image of the select few: they
were deemed capable of producing from pure inspira-
tion. Sir William Temple had already suggested that
learning might weaken the force of genius (Of Poetry,
1690). And Addison made the memorable remark
(Spectator, No. 160, 3 September, 1711) that genius
creates “by the mere Strength of natural Parts and
without any Assistance of Arts or learning.” By the
mid-century this idea must have been current to such
extent that Dr. Johnson denounced as “the mental
diseases of the present Generation... Impatience of
Study, Contempt of the great Masters of antient [sic]
Wisdom, and a Disposition to rely wholly upon unas-
sisted Genius...” (The Rambler, No. 154, 7 Septem-
ber, 1751). Literary evidence of this concept abounds
in the second half of the century; witness such remarks
as the following by George Colman (1761-62): “The
Genius... needs neither diligence nor assiduity”; or
Young (1759), “Many a Genius, probably, there has
been, which could neither write, nor read”; “To the
neglect of learning, genius sometimes owes its greatest
glory.” And on to Schiller, Coleridge, and Nietzsche.

It was only natural that primitivism now appeared
as an asset favoring original genius. Adam Ferguson
had expressed the idea quite simply in An Essay on
the History of Civil Society
(1767, p. 265): a primitive
poet is always original because “he delivers the emo-
tions of the heart, in words suggested by the heart:
for he knows no other.” And in the same year William
Duff made the more daring assertion that “original
genius will in general be displayed in its utmost vigour
in the early and uncultivated periods of society...
and that it will seldom appear in a very high degree
in cultivated life.”

It must be emphasized, however, that most practic-
ing artists were rather conservative. Few accepted the
extravagant claims made by literary critics for natural
genius. Sir Joshua Reynolds, for instance, condemned


the opinion “too prevalent among artists, of the imagi-
nary powers of native genius, and its sufficiency in
great works.” Despite his classic-idealistic convictions,
he was not unmoved by the new ideas, but opposed
the notion that “rules are the fetters of genius. They
are fetters to men without genius.” An insistence on
freedom tempered, however, by study, learning, and
imitation prevailed with other great practitioners.
Robert Adam, who almost monopolized important
architectural commissions in England between 1760
and 1790, held that the freedom permissible to genius
gave him liberty “to transform the beautiful spirit of
antiquity with novelty and variety.” But at the same
time he maintained that architecture needed “to be
informed and improved by correct taste,” and the
models of correct taste were the works of the ancients
(Works, 1773). Adam's Roman friend, the great Gio-
vanni Battista Piranesi, in his Parere su l'architettura
(1765) ridiculed reason and rule and advocated imagi-
native instead of imitative art. But despite this stress
put on originality, he admonished his readers: “Let us
borrow from their stock” (i.e., that of the ancients).
Even Goya, the greatest genius of Blake's generation
and, like Blake, an advocate of unfettered imagination,
intended to inscribe on the title page to his series of
Caprichos: “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”
In his comment to this plate Goya added: “Imagination
deserted by reason produces impossible monsters.
United with reason, imagination is the mother of the
arts and the source of their wonders.”

6. The Artist as Second God. The Renaissance con-
cept of the divino artista (“the divine artist”) had a
double root. On the one hand, it was derived from
Plato's theory of the furores, the inspired madness of
which seers and poets are possessed; on the other hand,
it looked back to the medieval idea of God the Father
as artist, as architect of the universe. When, as early
as 1436, Leon Battista Alberti suggested in his treatise
On Painting that the artist may well consider himself,
as it were, another god, an alter deus, he was probably
prompted by the medieval deus artifex. Whatever his
source, the simile suggested that the artist was divorced
from the rank and file of “normal” people.

The tertium comparationis between God and the
poet or artist is the act of creation. This was often
expressed (for examples, Zilsel, 1926). Leonardo called
the artist signore e Dio (Ludwig, 1888; Panofsky, 1962),
while Scaliger (Poetics, 1561) returned to Alberti's
dictum: the poet was “as it were a second god” (velut
alter deus
). Similarly, the influential Lomazzo in an-
other work, Trattato... (1584), regarded the fare e
of the painter as a lower form of divine activity.

The epithet “divine” (divus, divino) for living poets
or artists appears rarely before the sixteenth century
(Zilsel [1926], p. 276); it becomes more common with
the diffusion of Renaissance Neo-Platonism. The su-
preme example is, of course, Michelangelo, whom
Aretino addressed as “divine” and to whose name
Ariosto gave a fashionable meaning in the punning

Michael più che mortal>
Angel divino
(“Michael more than mortal/ Angel Divine”)

that was in every one's mouth and is still a standard
quotation. Francisco de Hollanda poignantly charac-
terized the new position by saying: “In Italy one does
not care for the renown of great princes, it's a painter
only that they call divine.”

The concept of the divinity of artistic creation lives
on (Kris and Kurz, 1934) and reappears imaginatively
and forcefully in Shaftesbury's Platonic vision of ar-
tistic inspiration as “divine enthusiasm.” Shaftesbury,
who according to Ernst Cassirer (1932; 1955) rescued
the term “genius” “from the confusion and ambiguity
that had previously attached to it,” goes on to charac-
terize the inspired poet, the real Master, as “a second
Maker; a just Prometheus under Jove.” The idea of
the divine metaphysical power of genius became an
inalienable part of English and also Continental con-
siderations—“Genius has ever been supposed to par-
take of something Divine,” “Genius is from Heaven,
Learning from man” (Young, 1759). Meanwhile, the
Prometheus motif as presented by Shaftesbury influ-
enced German thought with archetypal power. This
story was fully explored in a classic paper by Oskar
F. Walzel (1910).

7. Genius, Madness and Melancholy. Plato not only
opened up for all times the concept of divine rapture,
but was indirectly also responsible for the entrenched
alliance between genius and madness. Seneca's often
quoted dictum “There never has been great talent
without a touch of madness” which referred to the
Platonic fire of divine inspiration, was usually misun-
derstood. Dryden's “Great wits are sure to madness
near allied,/ And thin partitions do their bounds di-
vide,” and even Schopenhauer's “Genius is nearer to
madness than the average intelligence” echo the mis-
interpreted line from Seneca. But the myth of a close
alliance between genius and madness was not but-
tressed until the nineteenth century by professional
psychologists (such as J. Moreau, C. Lombroso, P. J.
Moebius, W. Lange-Eichbaum) and pseudo-clinical
evidence, so that many great nineteenth-century minds
such as Balzac, Rimbaud, and Taine took the supposed
connection between mental illness and artistic genius
for granted, and the belief in this connection has spread
so widely that it has become, in Lionel Trilling's phrase,


“one of the characteristic notions of our culture.” The
catchword “mad artist” of the vox populi, however,
does not refer simply to lack of mental or emotional
stability. The notion nowadays implies “a mythical
picture of the creative man: inspired, rebellious, dedi-
cated, obsessive, alienated, as well as neurotic” (Philips,

For an understanding of the idea of the mad artist
before the nineteenth century, familiarity with Aris-
totle's doctrine of the Saturnine temperament is neces-
sary. Developing the Hippocratian humoral pathology,
Aristotle postulated a connection between the melan-
cholic humor and outstanding talent in the arts and
sciences. “All extraordinary men distinguished in phi-
losophy, politics, poetry, and the arts,” he maintained,
“are evidently melancholic.” But the melancholy of
such men is a precarious gift for, although only the
homo melancholicus can rise to the loftiest heights, he
is also prone to conditions bordering on insanity. It
was Marsilio Ficino who, in his De vita triplici
(1482-89), revived Aristotle's half-forgotten doctrine.
Moreover, he took the important step of reconciling
Aristotle's and Plato's views by maintaining that mel-
ancholy, the ambivalent temperament of those born
under the equally ambivalent planet Saturn was simply
a metonymy for Plato's divine mania (Klibansky,
Panofsky, and Saxl, 1964). Ficino's conclusion was
widely accepted: only the melancholic temperament
was capable of Plato's enthusiasm.

From then on gifted men were categorized as
saturnine and, conversely, no outstanding intellectual
or artistic achievement was believed possible unless its
author was melancholic. In the sixteenth century a
veritable wave of “melancholic behavior” swept across
Europe (Babb, 1951). Many great artists—and not only
they—were described as melancholic, among them
Dürer, Raphael, and Michelangelo (Wittkower, Born
Under Saturn,
p. 104). Michelangelo's use of the terms
“madness” and “melancholy” in reference to himself
will now be more readily understood. They echo
Ficino's uniting of Platonic “madness” and Aristotelian
“melancholy,” and there is reason to assume that it
was this alliance that many a Renaissance artist re-
garded as essential for his own creativity.

But even at the height of the vogue of melancholy,
doubts were voiced, and eventually the Renaissance
concept of the melancholicus was supplanted by the
new image of the conforming artist. None of the great
seventeenth-century masters—Rubens and Bernini,
Rembrandt and Velázquez—was ever described as
melancholic and, indeed, showed any traces of the
affliction. It was not until the romantic era, with artists
such as Caspar David Friedrich (Hartlaub, 1951), that
melancholy appears once again as a condition of men
tal and emotional catharsis. Nevertheless, the Greek
humoral pathology was forever dethroned as early as
1697 with the publication of G. E. Stahl's Lehre von
den Temperamenten.

8. Sanity of Genius. In 1826, at a time when the
conviction of the abnormality of genius was widely
shared, Charles Lamb raised the voice of common sense
in his essay on “The Sanity of True Genius” (1826).
Not only did he deny any connection between genius
and madness, but even maintained that genius “mani-
fests itself in the admirable balance of all the faculties.”
Lamb had some following among psychologists and
psychiatrists even in the twentieth century (Wittkower,
Born Under Saturn, pp. 100f.), and what is perhaps
more remarkable, took up and continued—maybe
unknowingly—ideas well established before him.

Indeed, Leon Battista Alberti in the fifteenth cen-
tury, Vasari, the Venetian Paolo Pini, and others in the
sixteenth had a clear vision of the many accom-
plishments with which talent must be endowed, and
even when the modern conception of genius began to
make its entry, it was first the exalted, lofty, and har-
monious qualities that were regarded as characteristic
of the very greatest. In his Réflexions critiques sur la
poésie et sur la peinture
(1719) the Abbé Du Bos spoke
of the nobility of the heart and mind of genius, of the
vivacity and delicacy of feeling inseparable from it,
and said that the artist of genius must have “much more
exquisite sensibility than normal people.” Even much
later, reasonableness and perfect balance appear as the
touchstone of true genius. Thus James Northcote (1818)
left the following character sketch of his master

He had none of those eccentric bursts of action, those fiery
impetuosities which are supposed by the vulgar to charac-
terize genius, and which frequently are found to accompany
a secondary rank of talent, but are never conjoined with
the first. His incessant industry was never wearied into
despondency by miscarriage, nor elated into negligence by

The concept of the sanity of genius is linked with
the idea that exceptional work can only be accom-
plished by exceptional characters and, moreover, that
there is a kind of mirror-image relationship between
personality and work. As Vasari informs his readers,
the lofty art of Raphael could only result from a lofty

9. Union of, and Dichotomy between, Man and his
The mirror-image concept has a pedigree lead-
ing back to Plato's Politeia and Gorgias. Aristotle too
believed in a union of the morality of the poet and
that of his work. This theory had a long life; we find
it in the Stoa, in Cicero, and in Quintilian (Heitmann


[1962], pp. 9ff.). And the Renaissance assimilated it,
mainly owing to Marsilio Ficino's Theologia Platonica,
the cornerstone of Renaissance philosophy. To quote
an essential passage: “We can see in them [i.e., paint-
ings and buildings] the attitude and the image, as it
were, of his [the artist's] mind; for in these works the
mind expresses and reflects itself not otherwise than
a mirror reflects the face of a man who looks into it”
(Gombrich [1945], p. 59). This ancient conception,
which in due course became part and parcel of the
humanist Renaissance tradition, can be traced through
the sixteenth century (Weinberg, 1961) and even
through the seventeenth and into the eighteenth.
Boileau, in L'Art poétique (1674), expressed firm belief
in the correlation of character and artistic qualities:

Que votre âme et vos moeurs peintes dans vos ouvrages
N'offrent jamais de vous que de noble images....

And probably not independent of Boileau, Jonathan
Richardson in An Essay on the Theory of Painting
(1715), a pioneering work for England, enlarged on
the topic that “The way to be an Excellent Painter,
is to be an Excellent Man.” The theory of a mirror-
image relationship between character and work has
found a following into our own days. In fact, it is often
naively applied by art historians, who are forgetting
that ambiguity is a specific characteristic of the visual
image: what looks chaste to one beholder may appear
obscene to the next. Reflections upon the man behind
the work must therefore be regarded with considerable
skepticism. There are, however, also some deliberate
attempts—such as in Hartlaub and Weissenfeld (1958)—
to present the old Platonic concept in a modern psy-
chological dress.

This story would not be complete without taking
note of the fact that a theory diametrically opposed
to that of the mirror image had found advocates at
an early date. There are passages in Catullus, Pliny,
Apuleius, Ovid, and others (Heitmann [1962], pp. 16f.)
denying a connection between the morality of the
author and that of his work. And from Boccaccio on,
the assertion is repeated that no link exists between
the author and the character of the stories told by him.
The theory culminates in Diderot's axiom, published
in his article “Platonism” in the Encyclopédie, that
great men may be morally deficient and a burden to
those close to them, and that nevertheless their work
remains untouched by such personal shortcomings.
There is, in short, no link between grand auteur et
homme de bien.
In le Neveu de Rameau Diderot
maintained that geniuses are hypertrophically devel-
oped in one direction, but are failures as persons: Ils
ne sont bons qu'à une chose, passé cela, rien; ils ne
savent ce que c'est d'être citoyens, pères, mères, parents,

It has been noticed that Diderot's forcefully stated
thesis was readily taken up in the nineteenth century:
Goethe, Victor Hugo, Paul Bourget, and others learned
their lesson from him, and from here, of course, there
opened anotehr avenue to the nineteenth-century
theme of the alliance of genius and madness. But it
has also been shown (Heitmann [1962], pp. 30ff.) that
Diderot, far from being a pedant, could happily con-
tradict himself. Discussing François Boucher (whom he
detested) in the Salon of 1765, Diderot remarked that
the degradation of taste, color, composition, etc., re-
sulted from a degraded personality. Other passages too
show that he had not entirely dismissed the old mirror-
image theory. It is, in fact, remarkable how vigorously
the doctrine of a harmony between man and work
reasserted itself. This is demonstrated by material col-
lected by M. H. Abrams (1953, Ch. IX) and K. Heit-
mann (1962).

The apparent impasse that mars a solution to this
problem is understandable: common sense insists that
every work of art bears the personal stamp of its maker.
Nonetheless, it would be absurd to postulate that a
fierce brush reveals an unruly temperament or that
“tame” painters or writers have gentle characters, are
morally healthy, law-abiding, and pleasant to deal with.
Diderot himself tried to resolve these contradictions
by drawing new conclusions from the Platonic concept
of divine frenzy. In De la poésie dramatique he sub-
mitted that the artist in the ecstasy of creation is a
being very different from his normal self. We must
clearly differentiate, he argued, between ourselves and

... L'homme enthousiaste, qui prend la plume, l'archet, le
pinceau.... Hors de lui, il est tout ce qu'il plaît à l'art
qui le domine. Mais l'instant de l'inspiration passé, il rentre
et redevient ce qu'il était; quelquéfois un homme commun

(Heitmann [1962], p. 20);

(“... the enthusiast who takes up pen, fiddlestick,
paintbrush.... When in a frenzy he is everything he
desires to be in the art that dominates him. But the
very moment the inspiration is over, he returns to earth
and becomes what he has been before, quite often an
ordinary man”). Basically in the same vein Flaubert
postulated much later (1853) the principle vivre en
bourgeois et penser en demi-dieu
(“live like a bourgeois
and think like a demi-god”). Baudelaire seems to have
deepened this insight by explaining that there are men
whose art must be regarded as the result d'une vaste
énergie vitale inoccupée
(“a vast latent vital energy”).
Art here assumes a cathartic function, a theme dis-
cussed in an illuminating chapter of M. H. Abrams'
work (1953). It appears that as early as the 1830's John
Keble, who held the Oxford Chair of Poetry, progressed
to a “proto-Freudian theory, which conceives of liter-
ature as disguised wish-fulfillment....” Psychoana-


lytical dialectics offer a deepened awareness and new
methodology in approaching the problem of interac-
tion between the artist and his work. In psychoan-
alytical opinion (Kris, 1953) artistic products add a
new dimension to the artist's personality, because the
works result from the resolution and sublimation of
repressions. In this way the unity of work and person-
ality is preserved, for we are made to understand why
a retiring character may be a bold artist, or an outgoing
artist timid in his work. Discreetly handled, this ap-
proach may also throw more light on the still mysteri-
ous resources on which artistic genius thrives.

Although we are reminded that the man of the
second half of the twentieth century no longer believes
in geniuses (Lowinsky, 1964), they can hardly be abol-
ished by an act of “cultural will.” Geniuses will appear
and be acknowledged both in the arts and sciences as
long as Western man regards free development as the
inalienable right of the individual. The extreme self-
interest normally associated with genius and conceded
to it by society without a murmur is and will remain
at the very core of the problem of individualism.


For Parts II and III (Individualism), R. Wittkower, “Indi-
vidualism in Art and Artists: A Renaissance Problem,”
Journal of the History of Ideas, 22 (1961), 291-302; R. and
M. Wittkower, Born under Saturn. The Character and Con-
duct of Artists: A Documentary History from Antiquity to
the French Revolution
(London and New York, 1963), have
been used extensively.

For Part IV (Genius) the following were particularly
important: M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Ro-
mantic Theory and the Critical Tradition
(Oxford, 1953), a
standard work; B. Fabian, Introduction to the critical edi-
tion of Alexander Gerard, An Essay on Genius, 1774
(Munich, 1966), the most stimulating recent study on the
problem of genius; P. Kaufman, “Heralds of Original Ge-
nius,” Essays in Memory of Barrett Wendell (Cambridge,
Mass., 1926); L. Pearsall Smith, “Four Words: Romantic,
Originality, Creative, Genius,” S.P.E. (Society for Pure
English), Tract No. 17 (Oxford, 1924), last reprinted as:
“Four Romantic Words,” Words and Idioms Studies in the
English Language
(London, 1957), 95-114; both Smith's and
Kaufman's are pioneering papers; they have been extensi-
vely used here; H. Thüme, Beiträge zur Geschichte des
Geniebegriffs in England
(Halle, 1927), a Hamburg disser-
tation, still important even though the categories used are
no longer satisfactory; H. Wolf, Versuch einer Geschichte
des Geniebegriffs in der deutschen Ästhetik des 18. Jahrhun-
(Heidelberg, 1923), with chapters on the conception
of genius in French and English aesthetics; E. Zilsel, Die
Entstehung des Geniebegriffs
(Tübingen, 1926), still the basic
study, but scarcely goes beyond the sixteenth century.

The following bibliography in alphabetic sequence con-
tains a few items to which no reference is made in the text,
but which have proved useful in writing the article.

M. H. Abrams, see above. L. B. Alberti, On Painting, trans.
with Introduction and Notes by J. R. Spencer (London, 1956).
P. Aretino, Lettere sull'arte, ed. Camesasca (Milan, 1957),
II, 180. L. Babb, The Elizabethan Malady (East Lansing,
Mich., 1951). K. Badt, Kunsttheoretische Versuche (Cologne,
1968), with papers on “Artifex vates and artifex rhetor”
and “God and Artist.” P. Barocchi, Giorgio Vasari, La
Vita di Michelangelo,
5 vols. (Milan and Naples, 1962), IV,
1645-70. J. Bialostocki, “Terribilità,” in Stil und Überlie-
ferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes
(Berlin, 1967),
III, 222-25, discusses the changing meaning of the
term. W. Blake, Poetry and Prose, ed. Geoffrey Keynes
(London, 1941), pp. 660, 770ff. A. Blunt, The Art of William
(New York, 1959), Ch. 3. D. F. Bond, “The Neo-
Classical Psychology of the Imagination,” ELH (A Journal
of English Literary History), 4 (1937), 245-64, on the term
in English seventeenth-century writing. P. Booz, Der Bau-
meister der Gotik
(Munich and Berlin, 1956), p. 10. E.
Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (first German
ed., 1932; Boston, 1955), pp. 316ff., Shaftesbury on genius.
Cennino D'Andrea Cennini, Il libro dell'arte, ed. D. V.
Thompson, Jr. (New Haven, 1932). E. R. Curtius, Euro-
päische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter
(Bern, 1954), pp.
400-04, Imitation and Creation; 467-69, Divine Madness in
Middle Ages; 527-29, Deus Artifex; trans. W. R. Trask as
European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton,
1953). A. Dresdner, DieEnstehung der Kunstkritik (Munich,
1915; reprint 1968), with an excellent chapter on the artists
in antiquity. W. Duff, An Essay on Original Genius (London,
1767). M. Easton, Artists and Writers in Paris. The Bohemian
Idea, 1803-1867
(New York, 1964), of importance for Part
III, 4, 5 of this article. B. Fabian, see above, par. 2. C. von
Fabriczy, Filippo Brunelleschi (Stuttgart, 1892), p. 97. F.
Flora, Tutte le opere di Matteo Bandello, 2 vols. (Milan,
1934-35), I, 646. C. Frey, DieDichtungen des Michelangiolo
(Berlin, 1897), lxxx, 2; lxxxi. G. Gaye, Carteggio
inedito d'artisti
... (Florence, 1839-40), II, 489. A. Gerard,
An Essay on Taste (Edinburgh, 1759; 3rd ed. Edinburgh,
1780), p. 165; idem, An Essay on Genius, see above, par.
2, under Fabian. C. Gilbert, “The Archbishop on the Painters
of Florence,” The Art Bulletin, 41 (1959), 76. R. Goldwater
and M. Treves, Artists on Art (New York, 1947), p. 295, from
a Courbet letter of 1861. E. Gombrich, “Botticelli's Myth-
ologies,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes,
8 (1945), 59; idem, Art and Illusion (New York, 1960), pp.
192ff.; idem, “Style,” in International Encyclopedia of the
Social Sciences
(New York, 1968), 15, 352-61. G. F. Hartlaub,
“Caspar David Friedrichs Melancholie, in Fragen an die
(Stuttgart, 1951), pp. 217-36; idem and F. Weissenfeld,
Gestalt und Gestaltung. Das Kunstwerk als Selbstdarstellung
des Künstlers
(Krefeld, 1958). K. Heitmann, Ethos des
Künstlers und Ethos der Kunst. Eine problemgeschichtliche
Skizze anlässlich Diderots
(Münster, 1962), most important
contribution to the problem of relation between character
and work. F. de Hollanda, Vier Gespräche über die Malerei,
ed. J. de Vasconcellos (Vienna, 1899), p. 21, passim. E. G.
Holt, Literary Sources of Art History (Princeton, 1947), pp.
86ff., English translation of Ghiberti's autobiography. J. Jahn,
“Die Stellung des Künstlers im Mittelalter,” Festschrift
Dr. h. c. Eduard Trautscholdt
(Hamburg, 1965), pp. 38-54,


concentrates on an evaluation of early inscriptions by artists.
A. Kalkmann, DieQuellen der Kunstgeschichte des Plinius
(Berlin, 1898). P. Kaufman, see above, par. 2. R. Klibansky,
E. Panofsky, F. Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy (London, 1964),
a basic study of which Part III, Ch. 2 is particularly relevant.
E. Kris, Psychoanalytical Explorations in Art (London, 1953),
pp. 25ff., 60. E. Kris and O. Kurz, DieLegende vom Künstler.
Ein geschichtlicher Versuch
(Vienna, 1934), basic study of
traditional topoi in anecdotes about artists; pp. 56ff., for
divino artista and natural talent. G. P. Lomazzo, Trattato
dell'arte della pittura, scoltura ed architettura
(Milan, 1584).
E. E. Lowinsky, “Musical Genius—Evolution and Origins
of a Concept,” The Musical Quarterly, 50 (1964), 321-40,
476-95. H. Ludwig, Leonardo da Vinci. Das Buch von der
3 vols. (Vienna, 1882), I, 18, artist as god; 114, the
solitary painter. E. L. Mann, “The Problem of Originality
in English Literary Criticism 1750-1800,” Philological
18 (1939), 97-118, relevant for Part IV, 3. G.
Milanesi, le lettere di Michelangelo Buonarroti (Florence,
1875), No. cdlxv. S. H. Monk, The Sublime (1935; Ann Arbor,
1960), Ch. I, pp. 10ff.; idem, “A Grace Beyond the Reach
of Art,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 5 (1944), 131ff. N.
Nelson, “Individualism as a Criterion of the Renaissance,”
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 32 (1933),
316-34, critique of Jacob Burckhardt's definition of individ-
ualism. G. Northcote, The Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2
vols. (London, 1813-15), II, 322. W. von Oettingen, Über
das Leben und die Werke des A. Averlino Filarete
1888), p. 272. J. Overbeck, Dieantiken Schriftquellen zur
Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen
1898). E. Panofsky, Idea (Hamburg, 1924; 2nd. ed. Berlin,
1960), pp. 68-71, for Dürer's advanced conception of talent
and inspiration; idem, “Artist, Scientist, Genius: Notes on
the 'Renaissance-Dämmerung',” The Renaissance. Six Essays
(New York, 1962), pp. 173f., on the word creare in Leonardo's
writings. W. Philips, in Art and Psychoanalysis (New York,
1957), XIV. Pliny, The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History
of Art,
Commentary and Introduction by E. Sellers (London,
1896). H. Poeschel, Kunst und Künstler im antiken Urteil
(Munich, 1925). H. Read, Art and Alienation. The Role of
the Artist in Society
(New York, 1967), p. 44. Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Discourses, ed, R. R. Wark (San Marino, Calif.,
1959), p. 17. J. P. Richter, ed., The Literary Works of Leo-
nardo da Vinci,
2 vols. (London and New York, 1939), I, 35,
No. 8. C. Ridolfi, le maraviglie dell'arte... (Venice, 1648),
new ed. by D. von Hadeln (Berlin, 1914-24), pp. 64f. F.
Sacchetti, Il Trecentonovelle, ed. V. Pernicone (Florence,
1947), p. 191. M. Schapiro, “On the Aesthetic Attitude in
Romanesque Art,” Art and Thought, issued in Honor of Dr.
A. K. Coomaraswamy (London, 1947), pp. 130-50. J. von
Schlosser, Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte aus den Schrift-
quellen des frühen Mittelalters
(Vienna, 1891); idem, Lorenzo
Ghibertis Denkwürdigkeiten (I Commentarii)
(Berlin, 1912).
B. Schweitzer, “Der bildende Künstler und der Begriff des
Künstlerischen in der Antike,” Neue Heidelberger Jahrbücher
(1925), pp. 100ff., basic for Part III, l. E. Sellers, see Pliny.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks,
3 vols. (1710-11), I, 51-53, on Divine Enthusiasm. L. Pearsall
Smith, see above, par. 2. H. Sommer, “Génie, Beiträge zur
Bedeutungsgeschichte des Wortes,” Marburg thesis (1943)
published by P. Sumthor, in Zeitschrift für Romanische
66 (1950), 170-201, concerned with French
seventeenth-century writers. H. Thüme, see above, par. 2.
Ch. de Tolnay, The Art and Thought of Michelangelo (New
York, 1964), pp. 94ff. G. Vasari, le vite de' più eccelenti
pittori, scultori ed architetti,
ed. G. Milanesi, 9 vols. (Flor-
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Unless indicated otherwise translations are by the author
of the article.


[See also Creation; Genius; Iconography; Individualism,
Types of;
Mimesis; Neo-Platonism; Renaissance; Roman-
ticism; Style; Taste; Ut pictura poesis.]