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From the late-nineteenth century onwards visual abstract or formal qualities were increasingly emphasized, analyzed and finally isolated by painters.Visual abstraction is not merely an aesthetic quest; it is a biological necessity.However, abstraction, which we inevitably associate with twentieth-century abstract painting, has no exact correspondence in seventeenth-century art discussion.The closest concept is that of idealization, by which classically-oriented painters sought to divest the world of imperfections and transmit fundamental religious and ethical truths that were considered the only worthy objectives of the art of painting.It may have resulted from a confluence of external influences, some of which just mentioned above, but type of unsparing, geometrically-based abstraction which so deeply characterizes his method mode of rendering must have sprung from the artist's deepest personal inclinations, as there is no real comparable rendering in painting of the time in neither the Netherlands nor the rest of Europe.
Thus, the manipulation of the so-called was more important than that of the brush.
"The curriculum of the Accademia di San Luca was, as least as far as technique is concerned, designed to combat the abhorrent practices followed by Caravaggio (1571–1610) and the Bamboccianti, painting technique.
The academy's training programme included instruction in perspective, foreshortening and anatomy, and it stressed imitation of the Antique, by way of drawing from ancient sculpture or plaster casts." Academics held that since art was a scientific and intellectual pursuit, and not a craft, art instruction should be systematic.
The fundamental difference between the two concepts is that abstraction seeks to extract an underlying "truth" of reality on a general level, such that it can be true of many cases, while idealization involves a premise, which can skew reality to a predetermined result making it potentially misleading.
In Vermeer's paintings shapes are abstracted, on a few occasions to the point of becoming unrecognizable.
Moreover, history painters had long simplified modeling, form and texture in order to create more universal visuals, and in almost every painting and drawing manual of the time painters were warned against getting lost in distracting detail.