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M edieval & Renaissance Art: A Comparison. Medieval and Renaissance Art. Medieval 1. No expressions on faces 2. Stiff and unrealistic poses. Renaissance 1. Faces are filled with emotion and expression 2. Human poses are lifelike and realistic. Medieval and Renaissance Art. Medieval

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medieval and renaissance art
Medieval and Renaissance Art


1. No expressions onfaces

2. Stiff and unrealistic poses


1. Faces are filled with emotion and expression

2. Human poses are lifelike and realistic

medieval and renaissance art1
Medieval and Renaissance Art


  • European art was the property of the Church – often religious themes, individuals were not important—paintings not signed

4. Tempura paints were used – dried too quickly to correct mistakes


  • Artists take credit for their work and become famous; also portraits are done of people
  • Oil paints were used – lets artists work slowly, create new colors, and obtain more lifelike effects
medieval and renaissance art2
Medieval and Renaissance Art


  • The Church forbids displaying the naked human body
  • There is no balance, proportion, or perspective – pictures are “flat” and two dimensional because the most important spiritual figures in the painting are larger than the less important ones.


  • Like the Greeks and Romans, artists study anatomy to portray humans realistically
  • Artists create proportion with the illusion of depth and distance on the flat surface—called linear perspective. They also use new shading devices called sfumato and chiarascuro; they use geometry to achieve balance.
medieval and renaissance art3
Medieval and Renaissance Art


  • Halos and gold backgrounds symbolized residents of heaven and the holy atmosphere of heaven


7. Portrayed naturalistic landscapes of this world and saints lived in the same world as ordinary people

comparing artwork
Comparing Artwork

Renaissance Artwork

Raphael: The Nymph Galatea 1512-1514

Medieval Artwork


Famous works by Italian

Renaissance Artists





  • Was a famous Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor.
  • Born in Florence Italy in 1386.
  • He brought back work with bronze which was a common material during the Roman times. It was not used during the middle ages but he brought it back.

David by Donatello

  • 1430
  • First free-form bronze since Roman times!
  • Sculptor and Painter
  • "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."—Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s David.

  • This statue is perhaps the most iconic image of the Renaissance period.
  • Michelangelo’s statue stands 17 feet high (about 3 metres)
michelangelo s david
Michelangelo’s David
  • It was sculpted between 1501 and 1504.
  • Michelangelo was only twenty-six years old, when he won the commission to complete the statue from a block of marble (the giant) that had been abandoned 30 years earlier by another artist.
  • When it was finished, David was placed in front of the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall. In 1873 the statue was moved from the piazza, to protect it from damage, and brought to its current location in the Academia Gallery, in Florence.
a classic pose
A Classic Pose
  • David is a Renaissance interpretation of a common ancient Greek theme of the standing heroic male nude.
  • In David, the figure stands with one leg holding its full weight and the other leg relaxed. This classic pose causes the figure’s hips and shoulders to rest at opposite angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso. This curve gives the figure its classical grace.
  • Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most recognized pieces of Renaissance sculpture, becoming a symbol of both strength and youthful human beauty.
Traditionally, David was portrayed after his victory, triumphant over the giant Goliath. Both Verrochio’s and Donatello’s Davids are depicted standing over Goliath's severed head.
  • Michelangelo has depicted David before the battle. Davis is tense, but not so much in a physical as in a mental sense. The slingshot he carries over his shoulder is almost invisible, emphasizing that David's victory was one of cleverness, not sheer force.

The hand that holds the stone is larger than the other, drawing the viewer’s attention to the action that is about to unfold.

facing down the enemy
Facing down the enemy
  • Michelangelo was a citizen of the city state of Firenze (Florence), and Florence was surrounded by much more powerful enemy city states.
  • When the statue of David was placed on the square in front of the city hall, the people of Florence immediately identified with him as the cunning underdog triumphing over the big bad guy. David was positioned so that his glare was directed south, toward the rival city of Rome.
  • Pieta means ‘Pity,’ and this is certainly the emotion that this magnificent sculpture evokes.
  • We feel pity for Christ’s suffering, but also for his grieving mother, who holds her son’s body in an attitude of quiet acceptance.
michelangelo s pieta
Michelangelo’s Pieta
  • The Pieta balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo.
  • The structure is pyramidal. The statue widens progressively down the drapery of Mary's dress, to the base. The figures are quite out of proportion, owing to the difficulty of depicting a fully-grown man cradled full-length in a woman's lap. By concealing much of Mary's body in her monumental drapery, Michelangelo made the relationship of the figures appear quite natural.
michelangelo as a painter the sistine chapel
Michelangelo as a Painter:The Sistine Chapel
  • The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican City

in Rome, attached to St. Peter’s Basilica, the papal apartments and the vast complex of buildings that make up the Vatican museums.

  • Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the chapel. He resisted, as he preferred sculpture to painting, but had to do as he was told.
  • The works are frescoes, (painted into fresh plaster) and they cover about 4,000 square metres of ceiling.
  • Michelangelo built scaffolding so that he could work on his back, and laboured over the frescoes from 1508 to1512.
interpretations of the creation of adam
Interpretations of The Creation of Adam
  • It has been suggested that the background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God bear a striking similarity to a cross section of the human brain, including the frontal lobe, optic chiasm, brain stem, pituitary gland, and the major sulci of the cerebrum.
  • Alternatively, it has been observed that the red cloth around God has the shape of a human uterus and that the scarf hanging out, colored green, could be a newly cut umbilical cord.
Both of these interpretations suggest the mystery of creation – in the mind, where ideas are born, and in the womb, where life originates.
  • The painting depicts the symbolic birth of the human race, as God reaches out to give the breath of life to Adam, the first man, reclining on the newly made earth.
  • Under God’s left arm is Eve, as yet unborn.
  • Michelangelo’s fascination with and his familiarity with human anatomy are in evidence here.
The Last Judgment is on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. It took four years to complete(1537 to 1541). Michelangelo began working on it three decades after finishing the ceiling of the chapel.
  • The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgment is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the apocalypse. The souls of humans rise and descend to their fates, as judged by Christ surrounded by his saints.
The Last Judgment was a source of conflict between Cardinal Carafa and Michelangelo: the artist was accused of obscenity, having depicted naked figures, inside the most important church of Christianity,)
  • When the Pope's own Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, said that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather "for the public baths and taverns," Michelangelo worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld (far bottom-right corner of the painting) with Donkey ears {i.e. foolishness} while his nudity is covered by a coiled snake.
  • It is said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell, so the portrait would have to remain
  • 1483-1520
  • Interested in archeology, he became an expert in ancient Roman art.
  • Commissioned to decorate the state rooms in the Vatican at the same time that Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel frescoes.
  • Raphael, unlike Michelangelo, was well mannered, well dressed, well liked.
  • He always carried around a sketch book in which he constantly sketched women and children. These sketches formed the basis of his many Madonnas.
  • He used soft colours, simple circular forms, and gentle landscapes in his paintings.
  • He is best remembered for his madonnas, his portrayals of the Virgin with the infant Jesus.

The Madonna del Granduca

  • The way the Virgin's face is modeled and recedes into the shade, the way Raphael makes us feel the volume of the body wrapped in the freely flowing mantle, the firm and tender way in which she holds and supports the Christ Child - all this contributes to the effect of perfect poise…to change the group ever so slightly would upset the whole harmony. Yet there is nothing strained or sophisticated in the composition. It looks as if it could not be otherwise, and as if it had so existed from the beginning of time.
raphael the school at athens 1509 1510
Raphael – The School at Athens. 1509-1510
  • Raphael’s famous fresco decorates a wall in the papal palace at the Vatican, in Rome.
  • He depicts famous figures from various fields of knowledge, with the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle at the centre of the composition. Plato is shown with Leonardo da Vinci’s features.
  • Also included in the painting are Socrates (another philosopher), Alexander the Great (military genius) and Pythagoras and Euclid (mathematicians).
Raphael has also paid tribute to his fellow artist, Michelangelo, by placing him in the foreground.
  • The work is a brilliant demonstration of the technique of linear (line) perspective. The architectural space recedes infinitely through the arches of the marble hall to the open sky beyond.

The School of Athens – Raphael, details

Plato:looks to theheavens [or the IDEALrealm].

Aristotle:looks to thisearth [thehere andnow].









raphael s school of athens1
Raphael’s “School of Athens”


Plato (Leonardo), Aristotle,



leonardo da vinci the renaissance man
Leonardo da Vinci – the Renaissance Man
  • Artist
  • Sculptor
  • Architect
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Inventor
The term “renaissance man” is used to describe someone who has a wide variety of interests, and expertise in many fields.
  • Leonardo da Vinci was the quintessential renaissance man. He was a painter, sculptor, inventor, architect, musician, engineer, and scientist.
  • He is widely recognized as a genius of the highest level.
  • Historians tell us that he was not only intellectually gifted, but that he was noble in appearance and manners as well.
Christ is depicted here with his disciples at the last meal he shared with them before his crucifixion. We are shown the moment after Jesus has announced that one of the disciples will betray him.
  • The disciples react with dismay, and their gestures show their disbelief and concern.
Notice how effectively Da Vinci leads the viewer’s eye to Jesus:
    • By centering Jesus
    • By using the lines of perspective in the walls and ceiling
    • By framing Jesus’ head in the window
    • By isolating Jesus, while all other figures are grouped and overlapping
    • By following the gazes and gestures of the disciples
    • By contrasting Jesus’ stillness with the agitation of the other figures
disasters plague the last supper
Disasters plague The Last Supper
  • The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the world, but it has not been well preserved.
  • Shortly after Da Vinci finished the painting it began to peel off the wall. (Da Vinci did not use the fresco technique; instead, he sealed the surface of the wall and painted on top of it.)
  • Several attempts by lesser artists were made to restore it, and parts of it were painted over with oil paints.
  • At one point a door was cut into the wall below the picture, partly cutting off the bottom of the painting.
  • During the Napoleonic wars, when the monastery was used as an armory, soldiers threw their boots at Judas.
  • During WWII, the dining hall suffered a direct hit in a Nazi bombing raid.
  • The painting was covered by a canvas, but trapped moisture caused fungus to grow on the surface of the painting.
Mona was an abbreviation of madonna, meaning “my lady,” the equivalent of Madame, or Signora. So the title means Madame Lisa.
  • Lisa became the wife of a Florentine silk merchant at the age of 16. She was 24 years old when the portrait was completed.
  • Da Vinci worked on it for four years and kept it with him until he died at age 50.
mona lisa a prototype for renaissance portraiture
Mona Lisa, A Prototype for Renaissance Portraiture
  • The portrait is a prototype of the Renaissance portrait. In other words, Da Vinci introduced a new way of painting portraits.
  • He used both linear and aerial perspective in the background
  • He used a relaxed, natural, three-quarter pose which was a departure from the stiff profile head and shoulders portraits which had become the norm at that time.
  • He used a technique known as sfumato, (smoke) building the painting with layers of semi-transparent glazes, so the expression on the model’s face, especially her smile, is softly ambiguous, or mysterious.
leonardo da vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
  • Vitruvian Man 1487
  • The Vitruvian Man remains one of the most referenced and reproduced artistic images in the world today.
Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487. It is accompanied by notes based on the work of the famed classical architect, Vitruvius, for which it is named.
  • According to Leonardo's notes, (written in mirror writing), it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body as described in Vitruvius. For example:
    • the length of a man's outspread arms (arm span) is equal to his height
    • the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man's height etc. (ie. The figure is 8 heads high)

Leonardo, the Sculptor

  • An Equestrian Statue
  • 1516-1518

Leonardo, the Architect:Pages from his Notebook

  • Plan of the city of Imola, 1502.

Leonardo, the Scientist (Biology):Pages from his Notebook

  • An example of the humanist desire to unlock the secrets of nature.

Leonardo, the Engineer: Pages from his Notebook

Studies of water-lifting devices.

A study of siege defenses.