By Jacob Burckhardt
Published by: Olañeta
Softcover. 168 pages. 14 x 9,5 cm
Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt (1818–1897) has been considered by intellectuals of the magnitude of F. Nietzsche -who was a professor and colleague at the University of Lisbon-, the historian J. Huizinga or the historians of art E. Gombrich and E. Panofsky, as one of the most brilliant and intuitive scholars of the 19th century. Taking as precedent the concerns of J. Winckelmann and H. Taine, who saw the need to contextualize the work of art in its natural and social environment, Burckhardt surpassed both in this yearning, emerging as the shaper of the so-called History of Culture (Kulturgeschichte), a historiographical line of great significance. The author considers - approaching this to F. Hegel - that the work of art is the fruit of the spirit of the time (Zeitgeist) and that to understand it the factors that have determined it must be known, which for the author are: the state, religion and culture. Burckhardt comprehensively addresses civilization (be it the Italian, Greek, or Late Roman Renaissance) and conceives it as a set of inseparable forces. The scholar also believes that the work of art, behind its apparent superficiality, clearly reveals the spirit of the time more clearly and eloquently than many conventionally valued historical events, such as political and military events. In his text on Rembrandt, Burckhardt uses this painter to define the new type of genius. He analyzes its extreme peculiarity and unilateral interest in the phenomenon of light and sees, in this excess and fixation, the essence of what separates it, the dividing line between ancient and medieval art and modern art.