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# To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain

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To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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16 Apr 2019, 06:59
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 148, Date : 15-APR-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details

To critics accustomed to the style of
fifteenth-century narrative paintings by Italian
artists from Tuscany, the Venetian examples of
narrative paintings with religious subjects that
(5) Patricia Fortini Brown analyzes in a recent book
will come as a great surprise. While the Tuscan
paintings present large-scale figures, clear
narratives, and simple settings, the Venetians filled
their pictures with dozens of small figures and
(10) elaborate buildings, in addition to a wealth of
carefully observed anecdotal detail often irrelevant
to the paintings’ principal subjects—the religious
stories they narrate. Although it occasionally
obscured these stories, this accumulation of
(15) circumstantial detail from Venetian life—the
inclusion of prominent Venetian citizens, for
example—was considered appropriate to the
narration of historical subjects and underlined
the authenticity of the historical events depicted.
(20) Indeed, Brown argues that the distinctive style of
the Venetian paintings—what she calls the
“eyewitness style”—was influenced by Venetian
affinity for a strongly parochial type of historical
writing, consisting almost exclusively of vernacular
(25) chronicles of local events embroidered with all
kinds of inconsequential detail.

And yet, while Venetian attitudes toward history
that are reflected in their art account in part for the
difference in style between Venetian and Tuscan
(30) narrative paintings, Brown has overlooked some
practical influences, such as climate. Tuscan churches
are filled with frescoes that, in contrast to Venetian
narrative paintings, consist mainly of large figures
and easily recognized religious stories, as one would
(35) expect of paintings that are normally viewed from a
distance and are designed primarily to remind the
faithful of their religious tenets. In Venice, where
the damp climate is unsuited to fresco, narrative
frescoes in churches were almost nonexistent, with
(40) the result that Venetian artists and their public had
no practical experience of the large-scale
representation of familiar religious stories. Their
model for painted stories was the cycle of secular
historical paintings in the Venetian magistrate’s
(45) palace, which were indeed the counterpart of
written history and were made all the more
authoritative by a proliferation of circumstantial
detail.

Moreover, because painting frescoes requires an
(50) unusually sure hand, particularly in the representation
of the human form, the development of drawing
skill was central to artistic training in Tuscany, and by
1500 the public there tended to distinguish
artists on the basis of how well they could draw
(55) human figures. In Venice, a city virtually without
frescoes, this kind of skill was acquired and
appreciated much later. Gentile Bellini, for
example, although regarded as one of the supreme
painters of the day, was feeble at drawing. On the
(60) other hand, the emphasis on architecture so evident
in the Venetian narrative paintings was something
that local painters obviously prized, largely because
painting architecture in perspective was seen as a
particular test of the Venetian painter’s skill.
1. Which one of the following best states the main idea of the passage?

(A) Tuscan painters’ use of fresco explains the prominence of human figures in the narrative paintings that they produced during the fifteenth century.
(B) In addition to fifteenth-century Venetian attitudes toward history, other factors may help to explain the characteristic features of Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects produced during that period.
(C) The inclusion of authentic detail from Venetian life distinguished fifteenth-century Venetian narrative paintings from those that were produced in Tuscany.
(D) Venetian painters were generally more skilled at painting buildings than Tuscan painters were at drawing human forms.
(E) The cycle of secular historical paintings in the Venetian magistrate’s palace was the primary influence on fifteenth-century Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects.

2. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with

(A) pointing out the superiority of one painting style over another
(B) citing evidence that requires a reevaluation of a conventionally held view
(C) discussing factors that explain a difference in painting styles
(D) outlining the strengths and weaknesses of two opposing views regarding the evolution of a painting style
(E) arguing for the irrelevance of one theory and for its replacement by a more plausible alternative

3. As it is described in the passage, Brown’s explanation of the use of the eyewitness style in Venetian narrative painting suggests that

(A) the painting of architecture in perspective requires greater drawing skill than does the representation of a human form in a fresco
(B) certain characteristics of a style of painting can reflect a style of historical writing that was common during the same period
(C) the eyewitness style in Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects was largely the result of the influence of Tuscan artists who worked primarily in fresco
(D) the historical detail in Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects can be traced primarily to the influence of the paintings in the Venetian magistrate’s palace
(E) a style of painting can be dramatically transformed by a sudden influx of artists from another region

4. The author suggests that fifteenth-century Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects were painted by artists who

(A) were able to draw human figures with more skill after they were apprenticed to painters in Tuscany
(B) assumed that their paintings would typically be viewed from a distance
(C) were a major influence on the artists who produced the cycle of historical paintings in the Venetian magistrate’s palace
(D) were reluctant to paint frescoes primarily because they lacked the drawing skill that painting frescoes required
(E) were better at painting architecture in perspective than they were at drawing human figures

5. The author implies that Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects included the representation of elaborate buildings in part because

(A) the ability to paint architecture in perspective was seen in Venice as proof of a painter’s skill
(B) the subjects of such paintings were often religious stories
(C) large frescoes were especially conducive to representing architecture in perspective
(D) the architecture of Venice in the fifteenth century was more elaborate than was the architecture of Tuscany
(E) the paintings were imitations of a kind of historical writing that was popular in Tuscany

6. Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s contention that fifteenth-century Venetian artists “had no practical experience of the large-scale representation of familiar religious stories” (lines 40–42)?

(A) The style of secular historical paintings in the palace of the Venetian magistrate was similar to that of Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects.
(B) The style of the historical writing produced by fifteenth-century Venetian authors was similar in its inclusion of anecdotal details to secular paintings produced during that century in Tuscany.
(C) Many of the artists who produced Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects served as apprentices in Tuscany, where they had become familiar with the technique of painting frescoes.
(D) Few of the frescoes painted in Tuscany during the fifteenth century had secular subjects, and those that did often betrayed the artist’s inability to represent elaborate architecture in perspective.
(E) Few of the Venetian narrative paintings produced toward the end of the fifteenth century show evidence of the enhanced drawing skill that characterized the paintings produced in Venice a century later.

• Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 10 (February 1994)
• Difficulty Level: 650

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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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22 Apr 2019, 05:32
1
Hi,

I marked C for question 1 (main idea of passage).
Can someone explain why it should be B and not C?

TIA.
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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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22 Apr 2019, 18:31
2
Explanation

Topic and Scope:

15th century Italian narrative painting; specifically, the differences between the Venetian version (as recently analyzed by a critic) and the Tuscan.

Purpose and Main Idea:

Author wants to explain why the Venetian approach to religious narrative painting in the 15th century is so different from the Tuscan approach, and lists a reason cited by critic Brown (differences in attitude) and others that Brown doesn’t cite (differences in climate and artistic skill).

Paragraph Structure:

Para 1 lists characteristics of the two types of narrative religious painting, and reports Brown’s explanation for the difference: Unlike the Tuscans’ largescale, simple style, the Venetian style added meticulous detail and depicted actual contemporaries because doing so made the art more authentic and distinctive.

Para 2 focuses on the climate issue that Brown ignores. Venetian dampness discouraged the kind of large scale frescoes in which the Tuscans specialized, so the Venetians relied on a different, smaller scale model. para 3 points out a third influence: The skillful painting of people was prized in Tuscany but rare in Venice, which instead valued the skillful painting of buildings. Hence we get Tuscan frescoes where the human subjects are large and well-executed, and Venetian paintings that downplay the human element and emphasize the physical environment.

The Big Picture:

• When a passage is strongly based on contrast, you want to be clear about the differences between the entities in question, but don’t endeavor to master them in detail. Get a broad sense of the contrast.

• Sometimes making a quick list off to the side can help. Tuscany: Frescoes, large scale, simple, focus on people. Venice: No frescoes, small scale, embroidered, focus on buildings, depicted real people.

1. Which one of the following best states the main idea of the passage?

Explanation

This one has the right focus on explanation (which is after all the author’s purpose), and deftly sums up the para structure by alluding to the historical (para 1) and other (para 2 & 3) factors. Some students were bothered by the failure of (B) to mention Tuscany, although they might have realized that from the very first sentence, the author uses Tuscan references mostly for background, to put the Venetian details in sharper relief. Note that P.F. Brown’s book, the starting point for the passage, is about Venice, not Tuscany; note also that Venice or Venetians are mentioned 15 times, Tuscany only five, with only 25% lines devoted to information about Tuscany. Of course, if bothered by (B), you also have to factor in the inadequacies of the wrong choices, especially the failure of all four to get the scope right:

(A) ignores Venice altogether—and if you’re going to omit a painting style from the main idea of this passage, it had better not be Venice. Also, (A) focuses only on the details about painting people into frescoes, far too limited in scope for a main idea answer.

(C), too, is too narrow in reducing the Venice/Tuscany differences to a matter of “authentic detail”: The author takes pains to cite many other differences, including scale and local artistic preferences. Also, the author restricts the scope to Venetian religious narrative paintings, a point respected by (B) but lost on (C).

(D)’s scope is even worse, failing to place the passage in the 15th century and focusing on para 3 only. If all that weren’t bad enough, (D) even distorts the point made in para 3, which is that Tuscany and Venice prized different aspects of art, not that Venetian painters were more skilled than the Tuscan ones.

(E) is pretty much just a paraphrase of lines 42-48, except for distorting that detail by calling the palace cycle the “primary” influence on the paintings.

• You’re asked to pick the best of five choices, not the best of all possible ones. Don’t argue with choices: Compare them.

• Don’t let your misgivings about a choice blind you to the potentially much bigger problems with other choices. Letting your quibbles with the credited answer lead you to choose a manifestly worse answer is something you should constantly be on guard against.

neha283 wrote:
Hi,

I marked C for question 1 (main idea of passage).
Can someone explain why it should be B and not C?

TIA.

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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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23 May 2019, 10:05
1
It seems that not too many students have struggle with Q6. Anyways, here's my take on it:

Relevant text: In Venice, where the damp climate is unsuited to fresco, narrative frescoes in churches were almost nonexistent, with the result that Venetian artists and their public had no practical experience of the large-scale representation of familiar religious stories. Or simply put: unsuitable climate to frescos -> no frescos -> no skill in painting frescos

6. Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s contention that fifteenth-century Venetian artists “had no practical experience of the large-scale representation of familiar religious stories” (lines 40–42)?
(A) The style of secular historical paintings in the palace of the Venetian magistrate was similar to that of Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects. - talks about the same style - Venetian paintings style
(B) The style of the historical writing produced by fifteenth-century Venetian authors was similar in its inclusion of anecdotal details to secular paintings produced during that century in Tuscany. - merely says that the style in Tuscany also featured with details, which doesn't affect the argument at hand
(C) Many of the artists who produced Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects served as apprentices in Tuscany, where they had become familiar with the technique of painting frescoes. correct: Venetian artists trained in Tuscany where they learn to paint on frescos
(D) Few of the frescoes painted in Tuscany during the fifteenth century had secular subjects, and those that did often betrayed the artist’s inability to represent elaborate architecture in perspective. we already know that artists in Tuscany didn't have a good skill in painting architectural objects since they focused on painting humans
(E) Few of the Venetian narrative paintings produced toward the end of the fifteenth century show evidence of the enhanced drawing skill that characterized the paintings produced in Venice a century later. [b]- claims that only a handful of Venetian artists did know how to paint skilled architectural objects, an observation that is not really relevant to the matter regarding the knowledge of painting on frescos[/b]
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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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15 Aug 2019, 08:08
1
Explanation

Topic and Scope:

15th century Italian narrative painting; specifically, the differences between the Venetian version (as recently analyzed by a critic) and the Tuscan.

Purpose and Main Idea:

Author wants to explain why the Venetian approach to religious narrative painting in the 15th century is so different from the Tuscan approach, and lists a reason cited by critic Brown (differences in attitude) and others that Brown doesn’t cite (differences in climate and artistic skill).

Paragraph Structure:

Para 1 lists characteristics of the two types of narrative religious painting, and reports Brown’s explanation for the difference: Unlike the Tuscans’ largescale, simple style, the Venetian style added meticulous detail and depicted actual contemporaries because doing so made the art more authentic and distinctive.

Para 2 focuses on the climate issue that Brown ignores. Venetian dampness discouraged the kind of large scale frescoes in which the Tuscans specialized, so the Venetians relied on a different, smaller scale model. para 3 points out a third influence: The skillful painting of people was prized in Tuscany but rare in Venice, which instead valued the skillful painting of buildings. Hence we get Tuscan frescoes where the human subjects are large and well-executed, and Venetian paintings that downplay the human element and emphasize the physical environment.

The Big Picture:

• When a passage is strongly based on contrast, you want to be clear about the differences between the entities in question, but don’t endeavor to master them in detail. Get a broad sense of the contrast.

• Sometimes making a quick list off to the side can help. Tuscany: Frescoes, large scale, simple, focus on people. Venice: No frescoes, small scale, embroidered, focus on buildings, depicted real people.

1. Which one of the following best states the main idea of the passage?

Explanation

This one has the right focus on explanation (which is after all the author’s purpose), and deftly sums up the para structure by alluding to the historical (para 1) and other (para 2 & 3) factors. Some students were bothered by the failure of (B) to mention Tuscany, although they might have realized that from the very first sentence, the author uses Tuscan references mostly for background, to put the Venetian details in sharper relief. Note that P.F. Brown’s book, the starting point for the passage, is about Venice, not Tuscany; note also that Venice or Venetians are mentioned 15 times, Tuscany only five, with only 25% lines devoted to information about Tuscany. Of course, if bothered by (B), you also have to factor in the inadequacies of the wrong choices, especially the failure of all four to get the scope right:

(A) ignores Venice altogether—and if you’re going to omit a painting style from the main idea of this passage, it had better not be Venice. Also, (A) focuses only on the details about painting people into frescoes, far too limited in scope for a main idea answer.

(C), too, is too narrow in reducing the Venice/Tuscany differences to a matter of “authentic detail”: The author takes pains to cite many other differences, including scale and local artistic preferences. Also, the author restricts the scope to Venetian religious narrative paintings, a point respected by (B) but lost on (C).

(D)’s scope is even worse, failing to place the passage in the 15th century and focusing on para 3 only. If all that weren’t bad enough, (D) even distorts the point made in para 3, which is that Tuscany and Venice prized different aspects of art, not that Venetian painters were more skilled than the Tuscan ones.

(E) is pretty much just a paraphrase of lines 42-48, except for distorting that detail by calling the palace cycle the “primary” influence on the paintings.

• You’re asked to pick the best of five choices, not the best of all possible ones. Don’t argue with choices: Compare them.

• Don’t let your misgivings about a choice blind you to the potentially much bigger problems with other choices. Letting your quibbles with the credited answer lead you to choose a manifestly worse answer is something you should constantly be on guard against.

neha283 wrote:
Hi,

I marked C for question 1 (main idea of passage).
Can someone explain why it should be B and not C?

TIA.

Can you please post OE for all the questions?
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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain  [#permalink]

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15 Aug 2019, 22:30
1
Explanation

2. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with

Difficulty Level: 550

Explanation

(A) inaccurately accuses the author of playing favorites. Not a scintilla of evidence indicates a preference for Tuscany or Venice. To compare two things is not necessarily to show a preference for one over the other.

(B) What “conventionally held view”? The critics’ view of Tuscan painting as cited in the first sentence?—but the author never challenges that view. Some earlier interpretation of the Venetian style?—but no such interpretation is mentioned. P.F. Brown’s?—but that view is cited approvingly, not targeted for “reevaluation.”

(D) is poor on three counts: (1) The author is describing styles, not evaluating them, and never discusses strengths vs. weaknesses. (2) No “opposing views” are presented: The author doesn’t disagree with Brown’s explanation of the Venetian style in para 1, but simply enlarges upon it. (3) “Evolution” implies change over time, something the author never gets into.

(E), again, misrepresents the passage as a clash of theories or viewpoints. It is not. Two different painting styles are characterized and explained. Period.

3. As it is described in the passage, Brown’s explanation of the use of the eyewitness style in Venetian narrative painting suggests that

Difficulty Level: 600

Explanation

Turns out to be a variation on Critical Reasoning “assumption” questions. Brown’s explanation is para 1 only, and the eyewitness style appears in lines 20-26. Her allegation that the eyewitness style was influenced by a contemporary writing style assumes, of course, that writing can influence painting. Which is all that (B) is saying.

(A) refers to architecture and drawing skill, which are brought up only in para 3, by which point the eyewitness style—and Brown herself—have long since been left behind.

(C) refers to the Tuscan frescoes, which only come up in para 2 and are an issue that Brown neglects. Moreover (C) contradicts the whole sense of the passage that the Venetians had influences separate from the Tuscans, which is why the two painting styles turned out so dissimilar.

(D) Nice try, but the detail about the palace art comes from the wrong para, para 2. At that point we are no longer discussing Brown’s views but rather the factors that Brown left out. (D) does sound like something the author would agree with, but cannot be read as inferable from Brown’s argument.

(E), like (C), implies cross-fertilization of art from region to region, contrary to the passage’s sense that art in Tuscany and Venice developed under separate influences. Also, of course, no such “influx” is referred to anywhere near lines 20-26.

• Use whatever clues the stems provide in order to localize your search of the passage. For instance, skimming para 1 for the phrase “eyewitness style” allows you to locate the particular chunk of passage that will yield the right answer.

4. The author suggests that fifteenth-century Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects were painted by artists who

Difficulty Level: 700

Explanation

The correct answer could come from any part of the passage (since Venetian artists are mentioned in every para), and here (E) comes from para 3. We’re explicitly told that in Venice, the ability to draw people well “was acquired and appreciated much later” (lines 56-57) than the 15th century, while “painting architecture in perspective was seen as a particular test of the Venetian painter’s skill” (lines 63-64). The contrast is summed up by (E).

(A) What Venetian apprentices in Tuscany? Never mentioned. Such apprentices, if they existed, might explain how Venetians acquired drawing skill “much later” than the 15th century—but now we’ve really wandered beyond the scope of passage and question.

(B) No, this is a Tuscany characteristic (lines 31-36). Venetian paintings had a lot of tiny details conducive to close viewing, remember?

(C) ??? For all we know, the artists in the stem and (C) were one and the same. The only passage reference to “influences”.

(D) No, the reason they didn’t paint frescoes was that the Venetian climate precluded same.

5. The author implies that Venetian narrative paintings with religious subjects included the representation of elaborate buildings in part because

Difficulty Level: 700

Explanation

The question’s focus on buildings has to direct you to para 3, whose last sentence is almost verbatim the question stem and (A).

(B) There’s nothing inherent in religious stories, as far as we know, that would lead painters to include elaborate buildings in their work. Besides which, it’s the Tuscan paintings that were the more religious; Venetian paintings were more secular in style (lines 31-34 and 42-45).

(C) is clever, in that it makes sense that buildings would be ideal subjects in a large scale form like the fresco. But frescoes were Tuscan, not Venetian — or had you forgotten?

(D) No comparison between Venetian and Tuscan architecture is made or alluded to. For all we know, both types of building were elaborate.

6. Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s contention that fifteenth-century Venetian artists “had no practical experience of the large-scale representation of familiar religious stories” (lines 40–42)?

Difficulty Level: 650

Explanation

This one explicitly rebuts the author’s assumption that the Venetian artists had little or no exposure to frescoes and the painting style associated with frescoes. (C) would deepen the “mystery” that the author wants to solve, namely: how come the two cities’ styles were so different?

(A) is specifically stated by the author in lines 42-48, so there’s no way that it could weaken any part of the author’s argument.

(B) That Venetian historical writing might be similar in one major respect (the inclusion of secular detail) to Tuscan secular painting has no impact on the author’s claim about Venetians’ ignorance of large-scale religious paintings.

(D) is eminently consistent with the passage, at least in its allusion to the strong religiosity of Tuscan paintings; in any event, (D) makes no reference to Venice or Venetians and so could not weaken the claim in question.

(E) The passage states that skill in drawing the human figure came to Venice “much later” than the 15th century. If, as (E) states, “much later” means the late 1600’s, so what? That’s eminently consistent with the text and has no effect on the contention in question.

Hope it helps

Quote:
Can you please post OE for all the questions?

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Re: To critics accustomed to the style of fifteenth-century narrative pain   [#permalink] 15 Aug 2019, 22:30