Dr. Latifah Troncelliti completed a Ph.D. in Romance Languages at the University of Oregon and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor in the French and Italian Department at the Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She studied fine arts and traveled extensively in Europe and in Asia where she lived for several years working as interpreter. Visual art and writings on art are her areas of interest.2004 0-7734-6501-4
By challenging the traditional assumption that the historian’s expertise may allow for a superior understanding of the artwork, this study has wide-ranging implications that will make it relevant to many fields. The book examines the art treatises of Cennino Cennini and Leon Battista Alberti. In the official interpretation Alberti’s On Painting is the most important events for the development of Renaissance artistic style. Instead Cennini is repeatedly considered a representative of a medieval school of painting, the earliest artist-writer on the borderline with the medieval period; thus, the prevailing historical picture is one of progressive evolution, from the elementary conception of Cennini, mostly preoccupied with technical problems, to Alberti’s superior theoretical understanding of the painting process. The official interpretation of Cennini and Alberti exemplifies in essence the confusion between art practice and art theory which has been amplified and perpetuated from the Renaissance to the present. In fact, while the importance of Alberti’s writing for Renaissance art is overblown, the official interpretation of Cennini’s work contains serious flaws. It represents a clear case in which the excess of theoretical projection has obscured factors of the utmost importance for the understanding of Renaissance art practice. This work demonstrates that Cennini’s historical position has been misinterpreted and that his treatise, the Libro dell’arte, belongs to the same period in which Alberti wrote his On Painting. It also suggests that the progressive expansion of theoretical speculation has hindered our ability to perceive Renaissance art in a historically-informed, period-appropriate way.