italy-renaissance by keralaguest


									                                                                              Jennifer Roath
                                                                              Assignment 7
                                                                              Renaissance Art
       The Renaissance in Italy can be defined as a renewal of interest in classic art forms and

design from ancient Greece and Rome, and these ideas are represented in the painting,

architecture and sculpture of the period. Significant artistic advancement occurred in the 15th

century because artists explored new media, techniques, and ideas. Mathematics and science

were a major part of this advancement and were especially significant in the perspective work of

Brunelleschi and Ghiberti as well as the anatomical explorations of Leonardo da Vinci.

       Also significant during the Italian Renaissance were humanism and realism. These

movements were based on the idea that man was the center of the universe. It was a new

understanding that that man could achieve success by his own doings and that religion was a

more personal experience. These philosophies lead to extreme detail and the realistic appearance

of people in paintings and sculpture.

       There was also a movement towards the integration of arts and social concerns during

this time period. Pieces of art were often given to the church by wealthy people. Institutions such

as hospitals were architecturally designed in an artistic fashion. Related to this tendency is the

fact that much of the art dealt with religious themes, because much of the art was to be donated

to the Roman Catholic Church.

       One of the most notable and significant advancements in Renaissance art was the

understanding of perspective. Though it had been explored before, never had it been as

mathematically explored or understood. In painting, Filippo Brunelleschi’s system of perspective

was the most significant. He used a vanishing point to create the illusion of depth in a two

dimensional plane. Also, Donatello’s idea for perspective in relief sculptures was a major

development. His method of giving more relief to items that were to appear closer and less to
those further away is exemplified in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s gilt bronze cast “Gates of Paradise”

doors at the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. It consists of illustrations of ten stories from

the Old Testament, and is also innovative because Ghiberti included multiple scenes in one


         The beliefs in humanism are reflected in many works of the Renaissance through the

realistic figures and attention to detail. It is illustrated and symbolized in da Vinci’s “Vitruvian

Man.” This drawing consists of a man with outstretched arms and legs that reach the borders of a

circle and a square. He portrays the human body as the world and the center by which everything

is measured by centering a man’s naval in a circle.

         Correlated with this humanism concept is the common dramatic placement of figures in a

painting and the significance of their form and gesture. In Masaccio’s “Tribute Money,” an

illustration of the story of Peter and the tax collector, the feelings of Peter are portrayed through

his positions. His bent position by the sea shows the difficulty of his task while his facial

expression and hand gestures show his hesitation in the conversation with Jesus; his stature in the

exchange with the tax collector displays his holiness.

         In his treatise “On Painting,” Leon Battista Alberti insists that the “istoria” is the most

important part of a painting. The istoria is relation of the form and image of a painting with the

context and narrative behind it. Part of this idea is the importance of the symbolism involved in a

painting. Masaccio used istoria in his painting of “The Tribute Money” in the pyramidal shape of

the crowd of apostles around Jesus representing the trinity and the rounded shape of the arch

over Peter’s head representing his holiness.

         In sculpture, there were obvious allusions to the classical ancient Greek statuary.

Michelangelo’s marble statue of David is based on classic sculpture, except for slight variations
in proportions. The statue combines strength and watchfulness, with large hands and feet he

gazes to the left symbolically guarding against problems that would hurt the republic.

        Another tendency in art of the Renaissance was the inclusion of the artist’s self-portrait.

Examples are Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise” where he appears as a bald, older man peering

down with a smug, self-satisfied expression on his face. Also, Botticelli included himself looking

at the viewer with a confident attitude in his “Adoration of the Magi,” in which he set the

Nativity scene in his modern times and included portraits of other influential men.

        In architecture the square and circle were the main forms of interest, which was meant to

reflect the simple perfection of God. There was an emphasis on simple architecture and the use

of simple ratios. These architectural trends are exemplified in the design for Alberti’s Church of

San Sebastiano in Mantua. It is designed with four equal arms and incorporates semicircles.

        Though there was an interest in the simple forms of the circle and square in architecture,

people also wished to display their wealth in their buildings. They were willing to spend money

on the beautification of buildings with the understanding that it benefited the city with

magnificence. This idea was basically created by the Medici family, who had accumulated such

great wealth and needed an outlet in order to abstain from a sinful lifestyle. With its medieval

fortress and classical appearance, the Medici Palace is an example of this wealth displayed

through architecture.

        The Renaissance in Italy was a period of exploration and production of some of the most

famous pieces of art in history. Many of the ideas and methods developed during that time are

still used in art today.

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