Wolfflin Principle of Art History

The two painter Botticelli and Credi are linked with each other in a number of factors such as age, period and race, and both of the painters are considered to be the Florentines of the later Quattrocento. Despite their linkage with each other, there are some differences in the art style of both the painters. When Botticelli represents a nude female body, he knowingly or unknowingly relates her physique, body and the shape to the features peculiar to himself. Moreover, the female figures drawn by Botticelli are considered fundamentally and unambiguously dissimilar from that of the nude female bodies of Lorenzo, which were compared to a straight oak from a lime. If observed closely the curve of the arm of the nude figures presented by Botticelli ad Credi, we find quite a bit of peculiar features that can be related to only one of the two painters.

Talking about Botticelli first, who projects the curve with a sharp elbow point accompanied by the feisty and the determined line of the forearm, and both of these features are grouped with the radiant spread of the fingers around the breast. Talking about the same projection as presented by Credi, we observe that Credi produced a much more drooping effect to the curving arm. Despite the fact that the model is still believably structured, apprehended in capacities, but still his model is does not has the incentives presented by Botticelli’s delineations. These differences as observed are dissimilarities of temperament among the two. And this difference of temperament holds its significance whether a part of the nude figure of the two painters is compared, or even if the whole body or details are compared with one another. Moreover if observed in case of Credi, we see a pose of a confident and convinced person. But it is not the case as afar as Botticelli’s drawings are concerned. With a distant thought one can easily present the thought that the two painters are bound and differed by merely a beautiful form in one case and beautiful movement in the other.

A primary objective of Wölfflin was to discover and uncover the rot of styles. These styles consisted of both the individual style as well as the period style and he zeitgeist. Wölfflin mainly focused on the art as a continuously progressing form a comparatively simpler to a much more static or compel form. These form mainly consisted of the movement filled representations of the human figures. An important point to mention here is that the concepts that are specifically related to Wölfflin and define the period style have proven to be quite influential in their approach. For instance the concept presented by Wölfflin about the linear versus the painterly connected a primary change in the style of the European art from the period of the 16th century as compared to the period of the seventeenth century, which still makes its way in the survey text of the present time.

Wölfflin believed strongly in the proposition that artistic style changed in a cyclical process. Most of the chapters include some remark, even parenthetical, about the art of periods following the baroque era returning to the classic style. He expanded his theory to include the art of such epochs as the Gothic, ancient, and nineteenth century periods. As each style passed from relevance, artists would reevaluate their needs and approaches, and a new objectivity would arise. In this respect, Wölfflin was following an older approach to history which is best titled biological. There is a birth, vigorous youth, golden middle age, decline, and death—followed perhaps by a later rebirth. There is a direct link between two periods and both the periods mentioned in the reviwed theory have roots in the 17th century.

When we compare the two periods of mentioned in the two time periods mentioned in the Theory of the zingiest is that in the art seen in the 17th century the surfaces and the clothe folds are very naturally restless. Moreover, it can also be seen much of the glimmer and sparkle of the surfaces and the overall structure dodges an exploring hand. On the other hand, these features of the art in the 17th century as compared to 16th century show the following features. The contours and the shades of the fold of the garment gaud away like lizards, similar to the highlights intensified by the white, which can be seen in the drawing so Ruben. There are several developments in two periods and keeping an eye on every single development, following are the five main developments of Wolfflin study. Wolfflin’s theory has played an important in the success of his book, and no one can deny the significance of this theory in the success of his book.

The main five development of Wölfflin’s study that played a pivotal role in his book “Principles of Art History” mentioned as follows:

  1. The very first development type was the transition from the Linear to the Painterly type of the drawings as seen to evolve during the 16th and 17th In the linear type that related to the highlights projected in the ideation of the material things. On the other hand the painterly presents a tactile that projects patches of non-local shades on the highlights.
  2. The second major development was the transition from the plane to recession. The plane type presents a strata of the plane of the picture, moreover the planes are projected accentuating and underlining the forward and backward relations in recessions.
  3. The third major type of development is from the closed form to the open form. These forms are also mentioned as tectonic type of development and a-tectonic type of development. The closed form is a self-contained unit or body as compared to an open form.
  4. The fourth type of development extracted from the study of Wölfflin was the contrasting pair of the multiplicity to the unity. The classic art when observed presents the unity by producing the body parts independent having their own identity as well as movement and are not linked with each other.
  5. The final development as observed for the study of Wölfflin was the transition of form from the absolute clarity to the relative clarity of the particular subject. By observing the transition in such a way the subject instead of being projected as if it is organized examination and meditation, thus avoiding the effect of the leakages of being exhausted. Final development helps us in understanding the crocks of his theory and it clears the link between the clarities of the particular subject.


  • Wölfflin, H. (1940).Principles of art history: The problem of the development of style in later   art. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Wölfflin, H. (1940).Principles of art history. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Wölfflin, H. (1950).Principles of art history: The problem of the development of style in later art. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Fernie, E. (1995).Art history and its methods: A critical anthology. London: Phaidon.