The Italian Renaissance Art

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The Italian Renaissance was one of the most prolific periods in the history of art, with large numbers of exceptional artists to be found in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These leaders included Masaccio in painting, Brunelleschi in architecture, and Donatello in sculpture. Renaissance Art is divided into two main periods. The first period is known as Early Renaissance which took place in the fifteenth century during the Golden Age of Florence. This time included largess buildings, sculptures, and paintings, all of which questioned the rules of art. The next period is known as the High Renaissance, which was created mostly in the sixteenth century as it essentially built up upon and mastered the artwork created in the previous era. Art of this time period was marked by greater realism and the natural depiction of the human form. Humanism played a major part in Renaissance art as individualism that humanism cultivated led to a greater attention to the power of the individual.

The Baptistry in Florence is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. During this rebirth of culture, a banking system was invented in Florence, largely thanks to the wealthy Medici family. The Baptistry is an octagonal dome with a Florentine Romanesque style. The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. Michelangelo called the doors on the eastern side, “The Gates of Paradise.”

The Golden Age of Florence is known as The Early Renaissance with considerable artistic achievements. Sculpture was very important during this time, and Donatello’s statues David and Gattamelata. Donatello's bronze statue of David is notable as it is the first unsupported standing work in bronze cast during the Renaissance period. It depicts the young David with an enigmatic smile, posed with his foot on Goliath's severed head just after killing the giant. Most scholars assume the statue was commissioned by the Medici Family around 1440. Gattemelata by Donatello depicts the realism, humanism, and individualism of the Renaissance. Bronze like Donatello’s David, this statue is the first Renaissance equestrian statue and it served as a model for later sculptures honoring military heroes.

Renaissance painting began with The Holy Trinity by Masaccio. This painting is also the first to invent perspective, in which a two-dimensional image has the appearance of being three-dimensional with the help of a barrel-vaulted chamber. This piece shows the intimacy of religion during this time as God is descending Jesus from the cross. Madonna and Child, likely the most popular painting in Italy during its time, further shows how religion is a central theme in the Renaissance. The most well known Renaissance painting today, however, is the Birth of Venus by Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a full grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore. Botticelli rarely gave weight and volume to his figures and rarely used a deep perspective space. In this painting, Venus' body is anatomically questionable, with elongated neck and torso. Venus is an Italian Renaissance ideal as she is blonde, pale-skinned, and voluptuous.

High Renaissance Artwork is dominated by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo is famous for mostly paintings, while Michelangelo worked in a wider range of mediums which included sculptures and frescos. Leonardo created Madonna on the Rocks, which shows his interest in geology. One of his better-known paintings is The Last Supper. It represents the scene of The Last Supper from the final days of Jesus as narrated in the Gospel of John 13:21, when Jesus announces that one of his Twelve Apostles would betray him. The Mona Lisa, another one of da Vinci’s masterpieces, encompasses the Italian Renaissance. The painting is a wedding portrait that depicts a seated woman whose facial expression is frequently described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of...
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