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ITALY, 1400-1500. GARDNER CHAPTER 21-4 PP. 565-572. PALAZZO MEDICI. MICHELOZZO, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, 1444, Florence Simple, massive structure -> rusticated ground floor; second floor strongly articulated blocks; third floor smooth surface -> building seems to get lighter as it goes up

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italy 1400 1500



PP. 565-572

palazzo medici
  • MICHELOZZO, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, 1444, Florence
  • Simple, massive structure -> rusticated ground floor; second floor strongly articulated blocks; third floor smooth surface -> building seems to get lighter as it goes up
  • Roman arches at bottom used as entries to shops and businesses
  • Strong cornice placed on top


  • Interior courtyard allows light and air into the interior rooms of the palace
  • Palazzo built to express the civic pride and political power of the Medici family-> rusticated ground floor exterior expressed the fortitude of the Medicis
  • Symmetrical plan
leon batista alberti
  • The first Renaissance architect to understand classical architecture in depth
  • The first to study seriously the ancient Roman architectural treatise of VITRUVIUS
  • Author of On the Art of Building -> advocated a system of ideal proportions -> believed that the central plan was the ideal form for a Christian church
palazzo rucellai
  • LEON BATTISTA ALBERTI, Palazzo Ruccelai, Florence, Italy, ca. 1452-1470
  • Exterior is much more severe than the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi
  • Three horizontal floors separated by a strongly articulated stringcourse
  • Pilasters rise vertically and divide the spaces into squarish shapes
  • Not rusticated
  • First floor pilasters are Tuscan/derived from Doric, second floor composite derived from Ionic, third floor are Corinthian -> inspired by the Colosseum
santa maria novella
  • LEON BATTISTA ALBERTI, west façade of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, 1456-1470
  • The Rucellai family commissioned Alberti to design the façade of the 13th century Gothic church of Santa Maria Novella
  • Small, pseudo-classical pediment capped temple on the upper part
  • Lower part -> pilaster framed arcade that incorporated the six tombs and three doorways of the Gothic building
  • Believed in the eternal and universal validity of numerical ratios as the source of beauty -> goes back to the true spirit of the High Classical age of ancient Greece = POLYKLEITOS
  • New feature -> the scrolls the united the upper and lower levels and screen the sloping roofs over the aisles inside
girolamo savonarola
  • 1490’s -> Florence experiences a political, cultural, and religious upheaval
  • French armies are threatening Florence and all of Italy
  • Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola takes absolute control over the city -> denounces the paganism of the Medici and their artists -> denounced humanism -> exhorted people to repent their sins -> banishment of wealthy families -> destroy classical and worldly possessions
the princely courts
  • Florentine artists and architects led the way in creating the Renaissance
  • The papacy in Rome and the princely courts in other city-states nurture Renaissance art
  • The princely courts consisted of the prince (his title varied from city to city), his consort and children, courtiers, household staff, and administrators = little emperors -> wealth -> artistic patronage
  • Art for the princes had several purposes:
  • Showed princely sophistication and culture
  • Form of prestige and commemoration
  • Public education and propaganda
  • Demonstration of wealth
  • Visual pleasure
  • PERUGINO, Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter, 1482, fresco, Sistine Chapel, Rome
  • Christ delivers the keys of his earthly kingdom to Saint Peter -> a theme treasured by the popes, who saw themselves as descendants of Saint Peter
  • Left background -> tribute money
  • Right background -> stoning of Jesus
  • Models of the Arch of Constantine in the background; central basilica reflects the ideas of Brunelleschi and Alberti on architecture
  • One-point perspective, vast piazza
  • Open space provides dramatic emphasis on keys
  • Figures stand in contrapposto
  • Many contemporary faces in the scene
luca signorelli
  • LUCA SIGNORELLI, Damned Cast into Hell, 1499-1504, fresco, Orvieto Cathedral, Italy
  • Further develops Pallaiullo’s interest in depiction of muscular bodies in violent action
  • One of a colossal series of frescoes depicting the end of the world
  • Saint Michael and the hosts of Heaven hurl the damned into hell
  • Demons vigorously torture the dense writhing mass of the damned
  • The fiends are depicted in bizarre and lurid coloration -> evil and putrefaction
piero della francesca
  • PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA, Enthroned Madonna and Saints Adored by Federico da Montefeltro, ca. 1472-1474, oil on wood, 8’2” x 5’7”
  • One of the greatest artistic patrons of the 15th century was the Federico da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino
  • Federico clad in armor kneels at the feet of the Virgin -> behind him stands his patron saint, Saint John the Evangelist
  • Missing figure opposite Federico would have been his wife Battista Sforza -> she died
  • Figures appear in an illusionistically painted, coffered barrel vault
  • PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA, Flagellation of Christ, ca. 1455-1465, oil and tempera on wood, 1’11” x 2’8”
  • Setting is the portico of Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem
  • Focus of the composition is not Christ but the three figures in the foreground -> scholars still debate who they are
  • The reveals a mind cultivated by mathematics -> the clarity and purity of geometric shapes