Painters of Reality - Bayer, Andrea; Gregori, Mina - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture

Series Information
Metropolitan Museum of Art Series

Published in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art  

Painters of Reality

The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy

  • Edited by Andrea Bayer; with contributions by Andrea Bayer, Mina Gregori, Martin Kemp, Linda Wolk-Simon, Enrico De Pascale, Giulio Bora, Mario Marubbi, Keith Christiansen, Laura Lanzeni, Robert S. Miller, and Andaleeb Badiee Banta
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Inspired largely by Leonardo’s brilliant naturalistic work for the Sforza court in Milan, Lombard artists of the late fifteenth century began to use direct observation to investigate the natural world. This heritage was of considerable importance in northern Italian art for two centuries, finding its greatest expression in the works of Caravaggio and influencing the course of Baroque painting in Rome and eventually elsewhere in Europe.

Painters of Reality identifies the salient characteristics of this naturalistic strand in Lombard art. Building on the scholarship of renowned art historian Roberto Longhi, the authors reexamine the subject in light of subsequent literature. Essays range from broad discussions of naturalism in Lombard paintings and drawings (including a fresh consideration of works by Caravaggio) to more specialized treatments of Leonardo’s influence, the schools of painting centered in Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, and Milan, and Caravaggio’s most notable successors in northern Italy. In addition to Leonardo and Caravaggio, masters such as Lotto, Savoldo, Moroni, and Ceruti and other significant but less widely known figures are represented.

With its devotion to recording the unvarnished truth of daily life, its meticulously observed still lifes and landscapes, and its dramatic use of highly focused light to define form, Lombard art was hugely influential in its time and still holds much appeal today.

Andrea Bayer is Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Mina Gregori is a distinguished art historian and professor emerita of the University of Florence.