Renaissance Art and Culture
Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual activities, as well as social and political confusion, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments. Leonardo dad Vinci and Michelangelo were inspired by the term “Renaissance man”. Renaissance influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual study. Renaissance scholars used the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art. The civilizations of Greece and Rome were rediscovered, inspiring an interest in Classical learning which challenged medieval beliefs and ideas.
The population was becoming wealthier which led to an increase in trade and travel and the spread of new ideas. The rise in prosperity also generated an interest in education, supported the flourishing of the arts and promoted scientific discoveries and new inventions. Perhaps the most important of these was the printing press, which allowed the distribution of information to a much wider audience than ever before, further increasing the demand for more knowledge. INFLUENCE OF RENAISSANCE Renaissance was much more than a rebirth of classical art. It was a rejection of the middle Ages, which were Just ending.
During medieval times, the arts were concerned mainly with religion, with the life of the spirit, with the hereafter. Little importance was given to life on earth except as a preparation for the next world. But as the 1 5th century began, Italians were turning their attention to the world about them. People started to think more about nonstructural, or nonreligious, matters. They began placing faith in their own qualities and their own importance. This new spirit was called humanism. Discipline, unquestioning faith, obedience to authority–these medieval benefits were o longer blindly accepted.
People asked questions and wanted to find their own answers. Artists were among the first affected by the new spirit of humanism. In their work they began to focus on human life on earth. ITALIAN RENAISSANCE ART The Italian Renaissance was one of the most productive periods in the history of art, with large numbers of outstanding masters to be found in many centers and in all the major fields painting, sculpture, and architecture. In Florence, in the first half of the fifteenth century, there were great innovators in all these fields, whose work raked a beginning off new era in the history of art.
The idea of artistic genius became popular; Michelangelo was called “divine” because of the greatness of his creative powers. In the Renaissance, art and science were closely connected. Both the artist and the scientist strove for the mastery of the physical world, and the art of painting profited by two fields of study that may be called scientific: anatomy, which made possible a more accurate representation of the human body, and mathematical perspective. Humanistic education, based on ethics and the liberal arts, was pushed s a way to create experienced citizens who could actively participate in the political process.
Humanists celebrated the mind, beauty, power, and enormous potential of human beings. They believed that people were able to experience God directly and should have a personal, emotional relationship to their faith. God had made the world but humans were able to share in his glory by becoming creators themselves. INFLUENCE ON PAINTING The painting in France was known as Florentine painting. The techniques favored by the Florentine were tempera and fresco. The Tempera Painting: In tempera painting a dry surface was used. A wooden panel was grounded with several coats of plaster in glue, and the work was then copied from a drawing.
The colors were tempered with egg or vegetable albumin. The Fresco Painting: The fresco technique, used for the mural paintings in Florentine churches, involved painting on wet plaster. The sketch was first copied on the plaster wall in rough outline, and the part on which the painter was going to work during a given day was then covered with fresh plaster. The painter had to redraw the part that had been covered by the new plaster and add the colors. As the plaster dried, the colors came a permanent part of it. ARTISTS DURING RENAISSANCE The beginning of the great Florentine school of painting came in the middle Ages.
Leonardo dad Vinci 0 Michelangelo The climax of late 1 5th-century painting came in the work of Leonardo dad Vinci (1452-1519). Leonardo studied painting in Florence, but he spent much of his life working in Milan. The last few years of his life were spent in France in the service of King Francis l. Leonardo is the perfect example of the “Renaissance man” because he was interested in and well informed about a great many subjects: literature, science, thematic, art–almost everything about man and nature. Like many artists of the time, he was a sculptor and an architect as well as a painter.
His paintings, particularly The Last Supper, the Mona Lisa, and The Madonna of the Rocks, have made him famous. The unique way he handled light and shadow is his most unusual characteristic. Leonardo remarkable ability to grasp and express the mysteries of man and nature made him one of the greatest of all painters. He worked on the painting OF THE LAST SUPER from about 1495 to 1497. When compared to previous paintings of the same subject, its originality becomes evident. All extras have been eliminated; the distant landscape, seen through the windows, increases rather than distracts from the main subject.
There are no human figures other than Jesus and his disciples. All are placed on one side of a long table; earlier artists had placed Judas across the table from the rest. To give dynamic character to a scene pictured in standing terms, Leonardo chose the moment when Jesus announced one of the disciples would betray him. This terrible declaration sends a shock wave of feeling through the twelve. Each is clearly differentiated from the others in the attitude and sutures with which he reacts to the Master’s words, and yet all form a unity. The twelve are divided into four groups of three, each group having its own distinct character.
In the center is Jesus, whose posture forms a triangle, a form on which Leonardo paintings were normally based. Jesus is serene and unmoved by the effect of his words. These are the qualities of the High Renaissance style: simplicity; austere rejection of the incidental and the merely pretty; nobility and grandeur in the figures involved in actions of depth and significance. Michelangelo One of the greatest 16th-century artists was Michelangelo Bonaparte (1475-1564). In sculpture, architecture, and painting he was so outstanding that he was called divine.
He became fascinated with the problems of representing the human body, and he devoted himself completely to mastering them. In 1505 Michelangelo was called by Pope Julius II to Rome, where he was assigned to work on a number of projects. The most important were: The Pope’s tomb, The decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican The new basilica of SST. Pewter’s The Sistine ceiling, which took 4 years to paint under difficult conditions, is composed of hundreds of figures from the Old Testament. In all his representations of the human figure, whether in sculpture or in painting, Michelangelo strove to make them monuments.
With the art of Michelangelo the High Renaissance came to its climax. His work, in fact, betrayed signs of a changing attitude in the art of the day. The twisted, tortured figures and the compressed space of his painting of The Last Judgment. Influence of Renaissance on Venice and Northern Italy Venice was the most important northern Italian city of the Renaissance. The Venetians lived a happy and luxurious life. Enjoying the benefits of an active trade tit the east, they imported silks, Jewels, slaves, and exotic foods. Close connections with Eastern art and a naturally colorful location inspired the Venetian painters to use bright color.
They were influenced by the new “scientific” developments in Florentine art. But their use of anatomy and perspective was combined with their love of color and pageantry. One of the most important north Italian painters was Andrea Antenna (1431-1506). Born in Pads, a city not far from Venice, Antenna introduced many Florentine characteristics into north Italian painting. He particularly admired the realism of Tangelo’s sculptures, and like Donated, he studied ancient Roman art. He used perspective to create the effect of a stage on which his figures perform.
The greatest of the 1 5th-century Venetian painters was Giovanni Beeline Antenna’s friendship with Beeline had a direct influence on Venetian painting. Bellini’s rich, mellow color and warm lighting bring out the human qualities of his serene Madonna and saints. He was one of the first Italians to use oil paint on canvas. Two of Giovanni Bellini’s pupils became the most outstanding Venetian painters of the High Renaissance. They were Giorgio and Titian. Goriness’s colorful and poetic pictures attracted a large following of artists known as Egregiousness painters.
Titian began as a Egregiousness painter but developed far beyond this style. He achieved such mastery in the handling of bright, warm color that he was considered to be the equal of Michelangelo. In his late works figures and objects melt into a glow of light and color–a treatment of painting that seems very modern. Renaissance in the North Oil painting had become popular in Venice by the end of the 15th century. The Venetians learned a great deal from Flemish artists. The Flemish painter Jan van is often given the credit for developing an important oil technique.
The Flemish and German styles of the early 1 5th century were completely different from the early Renaissance style of the Florentine. Instead of simple geometric arrangements of three-dimensional figures, as in Mosaic’s paintings, the northern Europeans aimed at creating realistic pictures by rendering countless details–intricate floor patterns, drapery designs, and miniature landscapes. This complex style of the north did not develop from a humanistic classical art but from the Gothic tradition of mysticism and tortured realism. Flemish Painting Van Cock’s Madonna painted in 1436, is an excellent example of Flemish realism.
All the details of the room–the patterned carpet, the armor of Saint George, and the architecture–make this picture seem very real. There is no sign of the Italian sense of beauty here: the figures are not idealized. In the faces of the people can be seen the wrinkles and imperfections of real life. One of the best-known Flemish artists of the second half of the 1 5th century was Hugo van deer Goes. When the Florentine painters saw Hog’s work, they were impressed by its lifelike quality. This Flemish influence can be seen in later Florentine nettings.
Gradually the hard outlines of the Flemish style became softer because of Italian influences, and by the middle of the 16th century the ideas of the Renaissance had been absorbed into Flemish art. German Painting The German artist Albrecht Udder went to Italy, where he was impressed by the countryside and by the art he saw. While in Venice, he came to know and admire Giovanni Beeline. Beeline, in turn, admired Udder’s work. Udder had been trained in the Gothic tradition of German art. He had learned to imitate nature accurately and painstakingly. He was a master in the use of sensitive line in drawings, woodcuts, engravings, and paintings.
The End of the Renaissance During the second quarter of the 16th century, mannerism began to take hold in European art. This was the first truly international European style. Renaissance art had been typically Italian in style, but mannerism developed throughout Europe and combined many traditions. The art of northern painters such as Pitter Burgher the Elder and Udder can be considered part of this school. So can the work of Michelangelo and Tinderbox and many other 16th-century Italian artists. The work of the French painters of Fontainebleau and that of El Greece in Spain is also part of the mannerist style.
Mannerism was both a reaction against and an outgrowth of the High Renaissance. It was typified by abnormally lengthened or distorted figures and the replacement of perspective with a flatter and less organized type of space. By the end of the 16th century the High Renaissance in Italy had given way to late mannerism and the early baroque. But the discoveries and ideals of the Renaissance remained as a permanent heritage to all artists who came afterward. The most important contribution of the Renaissance was its vision of man as beautiful, noble, and independent.