Tessel Luitjens | A Historical Poetics of Style: The Development of the Concept of Style in Renaissance Art and Theory between 1350 and 1600 | University of Groningen, Department of History of Art + Architecture | Prof. dr. Ann-Sophie Lehmann, dr. Joost Keizer | 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2022 | a.t.luitjens[at]rug.nl
This research deals with the concept of style as it was developed in art and theory between 1350 and 1600. What we think today in art history when we think about style is completely clouded by the historiography of our field, which turned style into a taxonomic system that classifies artworks in terms of either “period style” or “individual style”. The concept of style that we have been using since them is of limited significance. In truth, style meant something entirely different in the early modern period. In Renaissance art theory, there are at least five terms for style: maniera, aria, ingegno, stile, modo. Each of these terms indicates a greater of lesser degree of involvement of individuality or commonality in the style of an artwork. Style as understood in the Renaissance is a set of conscious choices for the production of images. We will gain a much more critical understanding of Renaissance artworks if we use terms that were established in their own time. Therefore this research aims to rediscover the meaning of the concept of style and its numerous implications in Renaissance art. The main research question is thus: what is the development of the concept of style in Renaissance art and theory between 1350 and 1600.
The focus of my research lies on concepts of style in the visual arts in comparison with literature. The origins of the concept of style lies in literature, but during the Renaissance the concept first became a topic of discussion in the visual arts. Between 1350 and 1600, a corpus on concepts of style in the visual arts has been written, which has been largely forgotten today, even when the authors of the corpus are among the best-known writers of the early modern period. Starting with Petrarch around 1350, Renaissance writers have forwarded increasingly complicated ideas about style as a set of conscious choices. The aim of this research is to investigate this corpus and thereby critically analyze the origins and different concepts of style.