Charles de Tolnay
|Born||27 May 1899|
|Died||17 January 1981 (aged 81)|
Charles de Tolnay, born Károly von Tolnai (May 27, 1899 – January 17, 1981), was a Hungarian art historian and an expert on Michelangelo. According to Erwin Panofsky, he was "one of the most brilliant art historians" of his time.   
De Tolnay was born in Budapest. He was the son of Arnold von Tolnai, an official of the Hungarian administration. In 1918, he began studying art history and archaeology as Karl Tolnai in Germany, first at the University of Berlin (under Adolph Goldschmidt), then at the University of Frankfurt (under Rudolf Kautzsch). 
During these early years he was also a keen traveller. Between 1921 and 1922 he made his first trip to Belgium, visiting Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Ghent, Bruges, and Liege. In 1923 he went to Paris, Occitania, Spain, Lisbon, Turin, Milan and Venice. In 1924 he made a hundred-day journey to Italy, visiting Florence and Rome, where he was struck by the art of Michelangelo.  
He continued studying art history at the University of Vienna (under Julius von Schlosser and Max Dvořák  ), where he wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Hieronymus Bosch (1925). 
In 1928 he became lecturer at the University of Hamburg and a friend of the young Erwin Panofsky. There Tolnay wrote his Habilitationsschrift on Michelangelo's late architecture (1929). He then moved to Rome, where he did much research at the Bibliotheca Hertziana. Between 1934 and 1939, he taught art history at the Sorbonne, Paris, where he changed his name to Charles de Tolnay. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1945, working at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, for some years. According to Ernest H. Wilkins, "Of the many specialists resident at the Institute for Advanced Study, probably none is a more tireless investigator than Charles de Tolnay, Hungarian-born authority on Renaissance art."  In 1953, Tolnay was appointed professor of art history at Columbia University, where he retired in 1965. In the same year, he became Director of the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, which he helped to reorganize.  
He wrote fundamental studies on Flemish painting, in particular Bosch, Jan van Eyck and the Master of Flémalle, Hugo van der Goes and Peter Paul Rubens, but also on the painting of Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer. From 1943 on, his attention focused on Michelangelo, which resulted in a 5-volume study on his work, which has been called "the biggest, most learned study of Michelangelo in our generation".  Also important are his writings on the court of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary and Croatia, and the works of Bicci di Lorenzo, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Tintoretto, Pontormo, Diego Velázquez, Nicolas Poussin, Antoine Watteau, Eugène Delacroix, Paul Cézanne, and others. 
Tolnay died on January 17, 1981, in Florence.
According to Erwin Panofsky, Tolnay "excels by a rare combination of constructive scientific imagination and thorough connoisseurship ... Thanks to his extraordinary energy, Dr. v. Tolnay has greatly promoted our knowledge of Bosch, Breughel, and most particularly Michelangelo." 
According to Ernest Manheim, "everybody liked Tolnay because he had very interesting opinions. He was looking for a connection between art history, art analysis, and sociology". 
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance. Born in the Republic of Florence, his work was inspired by models from classical antiquity and had a lasting influence on Western art. Michelangelo's creative abilities and mastery in a range of artistic arenas define him as an archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and elder contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci. Given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences, Michelangelo is one of the best-documented artists of the 16th century. He was lauded by contemporary biographers as the most accomplished artist of his era.
Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch/Netherlandish painter from Brabant. He is one of the most notable representatives of the Early Netherlandish painting school. His work, generally oil on oak wood, mainly contains fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.
Rogier van der Weyden or Roger de la Pasture was an early Netherlandish painter whose surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces, and commissioned single and diptych portraits. He was highly successful in his lifetime; his paintings were exported to Italy and Spain, and he received commissions from, amongst others, Philip the Good, Netherlandish nobility, and foreign princes. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid-18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third of the three great Early Flemish artists, and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century.
Erwin Panofsky was a German-Jewish art historian, whose academic career was pursued mostly in the U.S. after the rise of the Nazi regime.
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The Mérode Altarpiece is an oil on oak panel triptych, now in The Cloisters, in New York City. It is unsigned and undated, but attributed to Early Netherlandish painter Robert Campin and an assistant. The three panels represent, from left to right, the donors kneeling in prayer in a garden, the moment of the Annunciation to Mary, which is set in a contemporary, domestic setting, and Saint Joseph, a carpenter with the tools of his trade. The many elements of religious symbolism include the lily and fountain, and the Holy Spirit represented by the rays of light coming through from the central panel's left hand window.
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