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Presented at the Renaissance Society of America Conference, Washington, DC, 2012


Leon Battista Alberti and Marsilio Ficino, though separated by twenty-nine years in age, had a close relationship as mentor and pupil. Concepts which can be found in Alberti’s De pictura (1435) and De re aedificatoria (1450) are infused in Ficino’s De amore (1469). The concepts include Alberti’s theories of armonia, lineamenti, concinnitas, ornamento, and the pyramid of light in the theory of vision. In both Alberti and Ficino, harmonies shared by the body and music are manifestations of the harmonies of the soul. Beauty in body and matter is determined by beauty in mind (mens), that part of mind directed toward intellectus divinus, and beauty is made manifest in mind by the lineamenti, the lines in the mind which are distinguished from matter. Beauty is the internal perfection of the intellectus divinus, which is the good, which is a perfect harmony called concinnitas. Ornament is not beauty, but rather a physical complement to beauty.