Alberti's Narcissus: "Tutta la Storia"

Alberti's Narcissus: "Tutta la Storia" ALBERTI'S NARCISSUS "TUTTA LA STORIA" Charles H. Carman The origin of this essay lies in an earlier conference paper that discussed the roles of Minerva and Narcissus in helping to elucidate Alberti's single point perspective scheme from his treatise On Painting (della Pittura) of 1435.1 That project has been developed in a series of studies about what I perceive to be an epistemology of vision shared with the theologian/philosopher Nicholas Cusanus (1401­1464).2 Continuing to explore that interest, I will reemphasize the role of Minerva, as well as that of perspective. My principle aim, however, is to elaborate the importance of Narcissus, who bears--in this treatise--the awesome responsibility for having been "the inventor of painting." How does Alberti come to such a strange, and/or ironic, conclusion? How does Ovid's morally blind youth, doomed to die from his paralyzing affliction of self-absorption, come to such prominence at the dawn of our modern culture? There have been answers, though they have largely fallen short of Alberti's insistence on having told "the entire story."3 Before getting to Narcissus, however, it is necessary to offer some important background. To begin with, given the notion of a "science" of vision underlying Alberti's perspective system,4 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Mediaevalia State University of New York Press

Alberti's Narcissus: "Tutta la Storia"

Mediaevalia, Volume 33 (33) – Apr 28, 2012

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State University of New York Press
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Copyright © State University of New York Press
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2161-8046
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Abstract

ALBERTI'S NARCISSUS "TUTTA LA STORIA" Charles H. Carman The origin of this essay lies in an earlier conference paper that discussed the roles of Minerva and Narcissus in helping to elucidate Alberti's single point perspective scheme from his treatise On Painting (della Pittura) of 1435.1 That project has been developed in a series of studies about what I perceive to be an epistemology of vision shared with the theologian/philosopher Nicholas Cusanus (1401­1464).2 Continuing to explore that interest, I will reemphasize the role of Minerva, as well as that of perspective. My principle aim, however, is to elaborate the importance of Narcissus, who bears--in this treatise--the awesome responsibility for having been "the inventor of painting." How does Alberti come to such a strange, and/or ironic, conclusion? How does Ovid's morally blind youth, doomed to die from his paralyzing affliction of self-absorption, come to such prominence at the dawn of our modern culture? There have been answers, though they have largely fallen short of Alberti's insistence on having told "the entire story."3 Before getting to Narcissus, however, it is necessary to offer some important background. To begin with, given the notion of a "science" of vision underlying Alberti's perspective system,4

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MediaevaliaState University of New York Press

Published: Apr 28, 2012

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