Summary of Leon Battista Alberti
Alberti is considered the father of Early Renaissance art theory and, because of his great adaptability, the archetypal "universal man". He is perhaps revered first-and-foremost as the founder of modern architecture. But Alberti's faith in mathematical principles and rational order led him into overlapping fields ranging through science, art, philosophy, cosmography, cryptology and modern and classical languages.
Drawing inspiration from the ancient civilizations (not to mention fellow architect Filippo Brunelleschi) his ideas were put into writing through several groundbreaking treatises that had the most profound and lasting effect on Early Renaissance art and architecture. In the field of painting, his ideas on perspective provided the groundwork for two next generation Renaissance giants, Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci.
- Alberti's contribution to painting, architecture and sculpture was cemented with his three groundbreaking treatises, respectively: De pittura (1435), De re aedificatoria (1452) and De statua (1568). These textbooks would constitute the very core of the Florentine Renaissance and provided it with the rules of scientific and mathematical balance on which a new age in art and art theory was built.
- It was principally through his love of Roman arches and columns that Alberti distinguished himself from his peers and confirmed the importance of antiquity to the outstanding aesthetic quality of Renaissance architecture. Advances in building meant that these features no longer served a vital supporting or structural function, but the beauty and balance of their design helped humanize the churches, palaces and palazzos which they graced.
- As the originator of pictorial perspective, Alberti can be credited as the first to propose a set of principles by which artists could authenticate their narratives and vistas against an agreed set of compositional rules. The laws of pictorial perspective and verisimilitude became institutionalized and have been passed down through the Academies that spread throughout Europe and America in the subsequent centuries.
- Although Alberti is best known for his treatises and his architectural designs, he is also credited with being the first to produce a self-portrait. He did this in the form of a medallion to which he also introduced the feature of the symbolic emblem. Alberti had effectively revised the designs and symbols of antiquity (Roman cameos and Egyptian hieroglyphics in his case), and thus pointed the way forward for the royal and scholarly portrait medals that would follow.
Biography of Leon Battista Alberti
Alberti, for whom Beauty was "the adjustment of all parts proportionately", manifested itself only in works "that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole".