RENAISSANCE = Rebirth of Ancient Roman ideas.
Began in Florence in Italy.
Why did the Renaissance begin in Italy?
- The ruins scattered throughout Italy reminded Italians of the great achievements of the ancient Romans. They wanted to follow this example.
- Italy had large and rich towns and the rulers and merchants were willing to spend their money on art.
- Italy was not a united country and was a collection of city-states. Each
state tried to outdo each other in terms of aesthetic beauty.
What was a patron ?
A patron was a wealthy person who sponsored an artist to produce works of art for him. The most famous patrons in Italy during the Renaissance were the De Medicis. These were rich bankers of Florence. The most famous were Cosimo and Lorenzo. Cosimo set up an Academy where people could study the Greek and Roman manuscripts. He paid Brunelleschi to build a parish church in the new Renaissance style. He got the best artists to come to Florence and encouraged them to try out new things in art. Lorenzo got artists to work for him, one of whom was Leonardo da Vinci. He set up a school for sculptors. Michelangelo studied at this school. He spent a lot of money making Florence beautiful.
How did painting change during the Renaissance ?
- They did not only concentrate on religious pictures, nature came to be included in pictures.
- Figures became more realistic because artists began to study anatomy and to cut up bodies for inspection.
- They used perspective (depth and background).
- They used oil paints which allowed them to paint more accurately.
- They painted on canvas.
- They used sfumato (blurring technique) to give soft shadows.
- They painted frescoes (wet plaster walls).
How did sculpture change during the Renaissance ?
- Sculptures became more realistic with the study of anatomy.
- Sculptures were freestanding.
- Inspiration was drawn from Ancient Greek and Roman sculptors.
How did architecture change during the Renaissance ?
- The Gothic style changed to the Classical style of Ancient Rome.
- People no longer lived in castles but in villas in the country or townhouses.
- Columns, round arches and domes became popular.
Leonardo da Vinci
He was born in Vinci near Florence and studied in Florence under Verrochio to be a painter. He learnt how to mix paints and make brushes. His patron was Lorenzo da Medici. Two of his most famous paintings are The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa. In the latter he used sfumato. He studied anatomy so that he could draw realistic figures. He was also an inventor and in notebooks drew a submarine, an aeroplane and a lifejacket among other things. He enjoyed drawing nature and faces. He used mirror writing in his notebooks to keep his ideas secret. He spent the last 3 years of his life in France working for King Francis I .
He was born in Florence and studied at the school for sculptors set up by Lorenzo de Medici. He also became his patron. He went to Rome and crafted the Pieta for a cardinal there. This was the only statue he ever signed. He also sculpted the statue of David for the Florentines. Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to paint the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This took him 4 years on his back. It shows stories from the bible. Later on he painted a fresco called The Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. He also designed the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. He was also a poet and an architect.
How did the Renaissance spread outside Italy ?
The invention of printing spread the Renaissance outside Italy. Johann Gutenberg invented moveable type (letters). The first printed book was the bible. Printed books were cheaper than manuscripts. More people could learn to read. This helped spread the new ideas.
During the Renaissance writers began to use vernacular languages instead of Latin. This meant that more people could read about new Renaissance ideas. Eg. Shakespeare.
Artists from other countries began to travel to Italy to see the new ideas for themselves and train under the Italian artists, learning new skills. Later they brought the Renaissance style back to their own countries.
He was a german painter and visited Italy many times to learn from the works of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. He was interested in nature and human anatomy and this can clearly be seen in his paintings of animals and landscapes. He also painted self-portraits. He is best remembered as an engraver. He engraved patterns on wood or metal plates with a sharp instrument. These engravings were then covered with ink and printed on paper. He also wrote on architecture, engineering and town planning.
The Northern Renaissance
The Netherlands became one of the greatest centres of art outside Italy. It had many prosperous merchants who became generous patrons of the arts. They too wanted to live in finely decorated mansions with new artistic ideas. The flowering of art and culture on the Northwestern edge of Europe became known as the Northern Renaissance.
Van Eyck was the most important artist of the Northern Renaissance. He was one of the first to use oils in his paintings. He could blend his colours better and achieve greater accuracy. He was well known for his portraits – The Arnolfini Wedding.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO IDENTIFY ALL IMPORTANT PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE RENAISSANCE ARTISTS.
EXAMINE BRIEFLY RENAISSANCE SCIENCE – COPERNICUS AND GALILEO GALILEI AND IMPROVEMENTS IN MEDICINE – VESALIUS AND HARVEY.