Fabio Tononi


Volume 1, October 2021   

This essay addresses the debate on the unfinished in the visual arts from classical antiquity to the
Italian Renaissance and its aesthetic implications. It is divided into two sections. The first section
analyses the history of the unfinished, focusing on the debate that unfinished sculptures and
paintings have stirred among theorists, artists, and the public. This provides a definition, or a series
of definitions, of the notion of the unfinished and enables us to recognise the formation of what I
call the canon of finiteness in visual works of art. In this regard, based on historical sources, I propose
that the aesthetic of finiteness can be divided into three categories: ‘finished’, ‘unfinished’, and
‘over-finished’. Finally, the second section explores the various solutions that have been adopted in
dealing with unfinished works of art – namely, keeping them as such or completing them through
the efforts of other, later artists – in accordance with the canon of finiteness that gradually takes

Canon of finiteness; Giorgio Vasari; Italian Renaissance; Titian; Unfinished


The Edgar Wind Journal 1: 86-127, 2021
DOI: 10.53245/EWJ-00006
Copyright: © 2021 F. Tononi. This is an open access, peer-reviewed article published by Bernardino Branca