Artistic Traditions of the Northern and Italian Renaissance

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Van Eyck's Portrait of Giovani Arnolfini and His Wife, Givanna Cenami and Masaccio's Trinity with the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, and Donors are two paintings that clearly reflect the respective artistic traditions of the Northern and Italian Renaissance. Each painting is reflective of the buying public, the northern resistance to let go of Gothic design, the dichatomony of a more Humanistic tradition and a more religious culture, the area's climate, the restructuring of the church with Martin Luther, the guild systems, and the mass production of illuminated manuscripts. Each tiny influence of the current culture had a very visible influence on the respective paintings.

The Northern Renaissance was assisted by the ritzy aristocracy that sought to fill their homes with paintings and artwork. As such artists were commissioned to paint family portraits or whatever was requested. Those who purchased paintings also wanted to maximize on their purchase and wanted the artist to put as much detail into the painting as possible. Most Northern Renaissance paintings were detailed and cluttered and Van Eyck's painting is no different. Color, hue, detail, and light were of great importance. Givanna Cenami is wearing a deep green dress with very complex painted ruffles along the side as well as a headscarf that the artist trims with very intricately done lace. Additionally, Van Eyck painted every detail in the room from the details on the couple, their dog, the furniture, and the reflection in the mirror. What was selling in Holland and Germany, however, was not reflective of the Italian Renaissance that focused instead on more of the religious elements of the Catholic Church. With a focus on the crucifixion the artists of the Italian Renaissance perfected the skill of the "convincing integration of human figures into rational architectural settings" (Stockstad 303). The composition contrasted than that of the north in that the Italians were more...
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