PRINT February 1970

Uses and Misuses of the Recent Past

. . . It moves one to compassion indeed . . . the simplicity of the artist who would bestow so much labor and pains to acquire that which all others seek with so much care to avoid.

—Vasari, Life of Pontormo

. . . The object of Mr. Barber in these engravings is not to make pretty pictures but to enforce moral truth. Everything is made with studied simplicity to bend to this purpose. Hence they have a peculiar power.

—Henry Howe, Introduction to Barber’s Picture Preacher

EVER SINCE VASARI’S LIVES OF the Artists we have been made aware of the task of the artist: to rescue the art of his time and place from barbarism, refining it, and carrying it to new heights of skill and sensibility. But, beginning with Vasari, critics were bewildered by paths other than the straight and narrow one pointing to accomplishment, fame and fortune. Pontormo baffled Vasari, who, though himself a Mannerist, could

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