Current time:0:00Total duration:4:21
0 energy points
Video transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: We're in the Uffizi, and we're looking at Verrocchio's painting of "The Baptism of Christ." So we see Saint John on the right, baptizing Christ. This is simultaneously the moment that Christ's divine nature is revealed. And we see that in the Holy Spirit, in the hands of God above. What's especially fun about this painting is that Leonardo was one of his students. And Leonardo painted some parts of this painting. SPEAKER 2: OK. So that's a wild idea, right there. Because we think of Leonardo as the master of the High Renaissance. And the notion of him as a student, and to actually have some of his student work available is really fabulous. SPEAKER 1: Well, it's pretty wild, just the notion that other people would paint part of your paintings. It's not something that we can imagine a modern artist doing. SPEAKER 2: But this was a standard idea, that a master would have students, would have apprentices. And they would work in his workshop and often do some of the less critical elements. So know that Leonardo was responsible for one of the angels. And SPEAKER 1: Right. So one day, Verrocchio said, today, Leonardo, could you paint one of the angels for me? And so Verrocchio painted one of the angels, and Leonardo painted the other. And I think what's fun about this is to think about one of the angels as an Early Renaissance angel and the other angel as a High Renaissance angel, Leonardo's angel as the High Renaissance angel. Because it's really Leonardo who invents the style of the High Renaissance. To me, I think it's pretty obvious. SPEAKER 2: So we have two angels. They're very close. SPEAKER 1: I think about how one angel, Verrocchio's angel, looks rather typical-- like a boy. SPEAKER 2: He does look like a boy. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. Like maybe Verrocchio went out and got a boy to model for him. Leonardo's angel looks like it has no earthly model. It's just ideally beautiful. And it's that ideal beauty that will become so important in the High Renaissance. If you think about figures like Michelangelo's "David," it's the ideal beauty of the High Renaissance figures that suggests their divine nature. SPEAKER 2: So that's so interesting, because when we think about the Trecento, we have a kind of painting that created a representation of the otherworldly, of the divine, that had nothing to do with the earthly. But then, in the 15th century, we had artists that were studying nature, studying our reality. In a sense, you're saying that Leonardo is surpassing even that, that he took the lessons of the 15th century and reworked them in order to be able to create an even more transcendent representation of the divine. SPEAKER 1: Well, in the 1300s, artists would represent spirituality or in the heavenly by using a lot of gold, halos, figures that were very flat. And so they suggested transcendence and kind of otherworldliness. So what Leonardo's doing is he's keeping all of those lessons of the Early Renaissance, of how to make the human figure look real, right? Using modeling, giving the figure a sense of weight and gravity, giving the figure a sense of three dimensionality. SPEAKER 2: Understanding its anatomy. SPEAKER 1: Exactly. All of those lessons of the Early Renaissance. And yet is able to imbue the figure with a sense of transcendence and divinity. SPEAKER 2: So much so that the halo now almost seems redundant. SPEAKER 1: Exactly. And it's Leonardo who will do away with the halo. But it's not just the ideal beauty of the figure that suggests that kind of transcendence and spirituality. It's also, I think for me, in the movements of the figure. If you look at Leonardo's angel holding Christ's clothing, he kneels, facing to the right. His shoulders twist slightly to the left. His head leans back and up. And it's an incredibly complex pose. If you think back to the Early Renaissance, the artists like Masaccio and Donatello were just really discovering how to create figures standing in contrapposto, who could move realistically. But Leonardo is taking a giant step beyond that. So the figures really move in a very elegant and graceful way that suggests that divine nature. SPEAKER 2: So Leonardo is really offering us a glimpse into the future, a promise of what the High Renaissance will hold in store for us. [MUSIC PLAYING]