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Arts of the Renaissance. Preface: Arts of the Middle Ages Most of the art that was created in the Middle Ages was funded by the Church, and made for public spaces Stained glass artistry came with the large and high cathedral windows of Gothic Architecture

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Preface: Arts of the Middle Ages

Most of the art that was created in the Middle Ages was funded by the Church, and made for public spaces

Stained glass artistry came with the large and high cathedral windows of Gothic Architecture

Most of the visual art, as with writing, was created by monks (Fra)

Conscripted labor performed the heaviest and most dangerous tasks in building the monuments of the age, although skilled stone masons were highly valued

Needlework was largely the province of women, often nuns, or high-born women and their ladies

By the late (High) Middle Ages, there was a concerted effort to marry faith and reason, in a movement called Scholasticism


Sant' Apollinare Nuovo:

interior, detail of N. wall of nave showing mosaic of the Three Magi, ca. first quarter of 6th century

Ravenna, Italy

cimabue the santa trinita madonna c1260 80 galleria degli uffizi florence

The Santa Trinita Madonna


Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Simone Martini

Christ Discovered in the Temple


Liverpool, The Walker Art Gallery.


Chartres Cathedral

exterior, view from SE. showing towers of West front (begun mid-12th century; N.spire added 1507-1514)

guillaume dufay c 1400 1474 ave regina c lorum
Guillaume Dufayc. 1400-1474Ave Regina Cœlorum

Held in very high esteem by his contemporaries and regarded by modern experts as probably the greatest composer of the 15th century.His harmonies and melodies prefigure Renaissance composition.

The antiphon, Ave Regina Caelorum, is sung as the concluding antiphon in the The Liturgy of the Hours from the Presentation

of the Lord until Holy Thursday. It was originally sung for None for the Feast of the Assumption.

The author is unknown. The earliest plainchant manuscript stems from the 12th century.




RENAISSANCE is a period during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries characterized by a revival of interest in the works of classical Greece and Rome, by a sharp increase in secular values, and by vigorous urban life. Both the forms and values of antiquity are held in highest esteem

characteristics of renaissance art
Characteristics of Renaissance Art
  • Art as Philosophy: Symbol, structure, and color are used to more realistically portray the temporal world.
  • Individualistic: Artistic styles vary widely, with much variation.
  • Classical: Classical themes and symbols of Antiquity often appear.
  • Realism: Portrays real people, as they are, but most often with an effort to describe their maximum or true potential. Linear perspective and anatomy are studied, as a means to achieve realism.
emphasis on individualism
Emphasis on Individualism

Batista Sforza & Federico de Montefeltre: The Duke & Dutchess of Urbino Piero della Francesca, 1465-1466


The Trinity


“What you are, I once was; what I am, you will become.”

ginevra de benci leonardo da vinci 1474 1478


'without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke'.


Ginevra de BenciLeonardo da Vinci 1474/1478

italian renaissance
Italian Renaissance
  • Frequently artists were patronized by the religious leaders of the time; Italian Renaissance art is often characterized by religious themes
  • Frescoes: paintings done on fresh, wet plaster with water-based pigments. (Example: Sistine Chapel)
  • Centered in Florence
  • Monumental Architecture
early renaissance
Early Renaissance
  • Concern with naturalistic settings and modeling
  • Private commissions allow secular as well as religious works
  • Classical forms and themes
  • Laws of linear perspective applied
  • Oil painting allows detail and depth
  • Produced largely by contract w/patron
filippo brunelleschi 1377 1436
Filippo Brunelleschi 1377 - 1436

Interior Architecture

Used ribs for support



Il Duomo St. Peter’s St. Paul’s US capital (Florence) (Rome) (London) (Washington)


Leonardo da Vinci The “Renaissance Man”

  • Broad knowledge about many things in different fields.
  • Deep knowledge/skill in one area.
  • Able to link information from different areas/disciplines and create new knowledge.
  • The Greek ideal of the “well-rounded man” was at the heart of Renaissance education.

Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait 1512

  • Sculptor
  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Inventor
  • Artist
  • Scientist
da vinci mona lisa 1503 4
da Vinci Mona Lisa1503-4


A Macaroni Mona


A Picasso Mona

An Andy Warhol Mona

high renaissance
High Renaissance
  • Proportion, harmony, and balance strived for
  • Intense study of the human figure allows fully resolved composition
  • Superb depictions of reality, as underlying structures studied
  • Idealization of nature


1504, Marble


The Sistine Chapel




Da Vinci








Plato:looks to theheavens [or the IDEALrealm].

Aristotle:looks to thisearth [thehere andnow].



Portrait of Pope Julius II




Pope Leo X with Cardinal Giulio deMedici and Luigi De Rossi



Sistine Madonna

Cowpepper Madonna



Madonna della Sedia

Alba Madonna


northern renaissance
Northern Renaissance
  • Oil paint. Jan van Eyck was one of the first to use them.
  • Masters of painting detail.
  • Some of the works are deeply religious, but often patrons were merchants or town officials, so secular paintings of portraits and everyday life also developed.
quentin massys 1465 1530
Quentin Massys (1465-1530)

Belonged to the humanist circle in Antwerp that included Erasmus.

Influenced by da Vinci.

Thomas More called him “the renovator of the old art.

The Ugly Dutchess, 1525-1530


Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528

Self Portrait in Fur-Collared Robe1500


Albrecht Dürer

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

woodcut 1498


Albrecht Dürer

The Last Supper

woodcut 1510

hans holbein the younger the family of burgomaster meyer adoring the virgin and child
Hans Holbein, the YoungerThe Family of Burgomaster MeyerAdoring the Virgin and Child

Hieronymus Bosch 1450-1516

The Garden of Earthy Delights



Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthy Delights, Detail


  • Made use of the English vernacular in his book The Canterbury Tales. Tells the stories of people traveling to Thomas a Becket's grave in Canterbury. It is important because the book allows us to see the spectrum of classes in England during the fifteenth century.
  • The spirit of the Renaissance is reflected in Humanism, an intellectual movement initiated by secular men of letters during the fifteenth century. Humanism focused on developing the full potential of man. This included not only traditional virtues of love and honor but also virtues such as judgment, prudence and eloquence. The effect of Humanism was to inspire men to move away from the values and views of the Medieval Period, bringing about new thought and creations.
  • Human nature is the primary study (as opposed to the Medieval focus of religion)
  • Emphasized the Dignity of Man, and his potential to master nature, over the medieval values of penitence and forgiveness.
  • Looked to the rebirth of the human spirit and wisdom gained over time.
  • Known for his sonnets of love, particularly to his love, Laura. His work is considered to be the "perfected" Italian sonnet.
  • He was absorbed with the classics and introduced them to his contemporaries, championing the use of modern languages along with knowledge of the ancient ones
  • “Father of Humanism”
the ascent of mount ventoux
The Ascent of Mount Ventoux

To-day I made the ascent of the highest mountain in this region, which is not improperly called Ventosum. My only motive was the wish to see what so great an elevation had to offer. I have had the expedition in mind for many years; for, as you know, I have lived in this region from infancy, having been cast here by that fate which determines the affairs of men. Consequently the mountain, which is visible from a great distance, was ever before my eyes, and I conceived the plan of some time doing what I have at last accomplished to-day. The idea took hold upon me with especial force when, in re-reading Livy's History of Rome, yesterday, I happened upon the place where Philip of Macedon, the same who waged war against the Romans, ascended Mount Haemus in Thessaly, from whose summit he was able, it is said, to see two seas, the Adriatic and the Euxine. Whether this be true or false I have not been able to determine, for the mountain is too far away, and writers disagree. Pomponius Mela, the cosmographer - not to mention others who have spoken of this occurrence - admits its truth without hesitation; Titus Livius, on the other hand, considers it false. I, assuredly, should not have left the question long in doubt, had that mountain been as easy to explore as this one.

pico della mirandola and oration on the dignity of man
Pico della Mirandola and Oration on the Dignity of Man

At last the best of artisans ordained that the creature to whom He had been able to give nothing proper to himself should have joint possession of whatever had been peculiar to each of the different kinds of being. He therefore took man as a creature of indeterminate nature and, assigning him a place in the middle of the world, addressed him thus: “We have made you neither of Heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of yourself, you may fashion yourself in whatever shape you shall prefer. You shall have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish. You shalt have the power out of your soul’s judgment, to be reborn into the high forms, which are divine.

O Supreme generosity of God the Father, O highest and most marvelous felicity of man! To him it is granted to have whatever he chooses, to be whatever he wills. Beast as soon as they are born bring with them from their mother’s womb all they will ever possess. Spiritual beings, either from the beginning or soon thereafter, become what they are to be for ever and ever. On man when he came into life the Father conferred the seeds of all kinds and the germs of every way of life. Whatever seeds each man cultivates will grow to maturity and bear in him their own fruit. If they be vegetative, he will be like a plant. If sensitive, he will become brutish. If rational, he will grow into a heavenly being. If intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God.

  • The Prince: Political satire. Develops the issue of political ethics through exploring such questions as “do the ends justify the means” and “is it safer to be feared or to be loved”?
the prince
“The Prince”
  • That Which Concerns a Prince on the Subject of the Art of WarThe Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, though being martial, from a private person became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on.
desiderus erasmus
He reflects the humanist desire to draw on all wisdom to create new works. “Praise of Folly” is one of his best-known works. In this work he is critical of the form (but not the values) of the Church of the time.

“Those who are the the closest to these [the theologians] in happiness are generally called “the religious” or “monks”, both of which are deceiving names since for the most part they stay as far away from religion as possible and frequent every sort of place. I cannot, however, see how any life could be more gloomy than the life of these monks if I [Folly] did not assist them in many ways.”

Desiderus Erasmus