History of Art in the Renaissance Period

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History of Art in the Renaissance Period

The Renaissance was, essentially, a revival or rebirth of cultural awareness and learning that took place during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It followed the Middle Ages, and was basically a time of the revival of learning after the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, a time, like its name suggests, with little increase of ideas, inventions or developments. In looking in to the matter of how the Renaissance first started, one understands that it was a combination of many political, socio-economic and philosophical events that occurred over a short span, which together sparked the fire that was the Renaissance. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD occurred because of the two new trade routes (the Silk route and Spice Route) that developed. Along with the capital breaking, the Avignon Papacy (1305-78) that consisted of the seven Bishops of Rome were known to be partial to the French kings, and rulers across Europe felt side-lined by the new French-centric Court.  Henry VIII broke away from the Pope, leading to a reduction of Church authority. The Church also claimed that the Bubonic Plague (1347-51) was spread by the Jews and they killed all Jews who survived the plague. Seeing this, the people lost faith in Church and further broke away from it. (This strengthened the "opening up of the human mind") Also the rise of the middle class was witnessed, with wealthy merchants becoming the new "rich class" and gradually taking power away from nobility. This new middle class bought art and popularized it among the class. (E.g.- Medicci family were big patrons of art.) They also spread out over Europe and cities like Florence, Venice, Sienna, Pisa, Bologna, Milan, Genève and Padua developed and became rich with the merchant class funding all the churches.  A series of Crusades to recapture Jerusalem that occurred led to the discovery of many new cultures and different thinking processes were observed. In doing so, Europe opened its eye to new possibilities. The Andalusian Scholarship in Cordoba was a hot spot of philosophers like Plato and Aristotle coming from different parts of Europe, Central Asia. It was from them that the Europeans were influenced by the idea of humanism; the faith that humans possess the power or potentiality to solve their own problems through reliance primarily on reason and scientific method applied with courage and vision. Humanism said that people should read the works of the greats and focus on writing, and the arts. This of course was like a setting stone on which the entire ideology of the Renaissance artists rested. Humanism believes in the widest possible development of art and the awareness of beauty, including the appreciation of nature's loveliness and splendor, so that the aesthetic experience becomes a pervasive reality in the lives of all people. It is with Renaissance that the artists first start thinking of "beauty" as a concept.  With the arts the artists began to think on their own and those movements began to spread. It was not just what the church said anymore that was right. Another of the new beliefs was scholasticism, which was the opposite of humanism. Scholastics thought that people should spend more time the sciences, they also wanted the church and science to be brought together as one. As new scientific discoveries were made many of the churches theories were beginning to be questioned. Some of the new scientific discoveries consisted of theories that went against the churches beliefs. For example, the Copernican theory of the sun, not earth being the center of the universe.

The renaissance period in art history corresponds to the beginning of the great western age of discovery and exploration, when a general desire developed to examine all aspects of nature and the world. Art, during this period, became valued -- not merely as a vehicle for religious and social identity, but even more as a mode of personal, aesthetic expression....
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