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The Painter's Secret: Invention and Rivalry from Vasari to Balzac

Marc Gotlieb
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 84, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 469-490
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3177309
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3177309
Page Count: 22
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The Painter's Secret: Invention and Rivalry from Vasari to Balzac
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Abstract

The essay explores problems of secrecy, exchange, and rivalry in artistic biography from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. It first considers Vasari's account of the invention of oil painting, which offers important insights into Vasari's larger intellectual project. Exploring the revival of Vasari's story in the visual culture of French Romanticism, it finds this revival was rooted in part in the fascination many Romantic painters evinced for unusual methods, esoteric materials, and the Eyckian myth of artisanal breakthrough. Writers, finally, as they considered Vasari's tale, found the opportunity to develop a new mythology of origins for the visual arts.

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