Northern Renaissance Paper

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In the middle of the fourteenth century a cultural transformation took place, this transformation was initiated by Italy and was called Renaissance. It separated the Middle Ages from the New Modern Age and is where Humanism and Reformation blossomed. Portraiture became a huge part of the Renaissance Era and artists became intrigued in trying new and unique styles. During most of the fourteenth century, only royalty had portraits made because they required status and wealth. A portrait is typically defined as a representation of a specific individual. A portrait does not merely record someone’s features, but something about whom he or she is, offering a sense of a real person’s presence. Royal Portraiture is especially unique because it has to show the status and wealth of the ruler and appeal to many. The traditions of portraiture extend back to ancient Greece and Rome, but change every century to new styles by being tweaked slightly every so often. New artists are always testing out new ways to spice up an old style of art and were willing to try slightly new and tweaked styles of painting.

Portraits of Rulers became popular to assert their majesty in places from which they were absent. Many rulers ruled more than one area of land and had a broad area of land that they looked after and could not be everywhere at once. Most rulers would travel around their land constantly, but there was always still an absence when they were not around. Portraits became a way of allowing these rulers to show that they are present even if they are not physically there. Many churches would have paintings or sculptures so that even when the rulers were not around, the community could see an image of their ruler. In addition to recording appearance, portraits had social and practical functions as well.

Portraiture was a way for the royals to show their lavishness, which in turn showed their dignity as a ruler. Royals had a way of wanting to flaunt their status and were able to do this through portraiture. The Portrait of John the Good by Girard d’Orleans, was important because it showed the significance of having a portrait made. This was the first profile in Northern Renaissance Art and signified a rebirth beginning. The side profile for a portrait was typical of Antique coins and medals. This new style of portrait painting emphasized the empirical. John the Good resembles Jesus in his portrait and has a “God-Like” feature.

Hans Holbein did a considerable amount of Travelling throughout Europe. He was primarily a court painter, and was employed by Henry VIII and did many portraits for him. He paid special attention to portraying likeness, which was very important for royalty. His work is rich in detail. Part of why portraiture was so appealing to royals was because it could do more than show what a person looked like. It could show how a person looks powerful and unapproachable which is shown in Henry VII. It could also show vulnerability or a way to be relatable to the viewer.

Showing that a ruler was scholarly along with worldly was important and in Ghent’s Duke Federigo of Urbino and his son Guidobaldo the importance is shown. Federigo the scholar, is reading from a manuscript displaying his worldly success. His military prowess is evident with his armor showing.

Frontal portraiture was more common and traditional among artists for portraits. One example of this is Jean Fouquet’s portrait Charles VII. This portrait is interesting because the bust of Charles is abnormally large compared to his face. His bust is actually life-size, but the rest of his body seems as though it isn’t proportional. Charles seems stern and sad, which is not typically what a royal portrait looks like. Royalty typically want to give off the impression that they are powerful, tough and wealthy but Charles show a sad and vulnerable side, yet still showing sternness with his bust pushed out and large.

Royalty art showed a lot of realism. Many...
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