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Great Artists

By barton80 Apr 06, 2014 3459 Words
The period immediately after the Middle Ages is known as the Renaissance. This is when Europe saw its interest to revive ancient Greece and Rome through its classical values and learning. At this time, Europe was going through some changes with its growing prosperity and its political stability. There were new technologies developing which included the printing press, along with a new astronomy system and new continental exploration. There was the expansion of philosophy and literature, and art. The paintings and sculpture that identified the Renaissance came in the late 14th century in Italy. It reached its peak through masters of art in the late 15th and early 16th centuries through the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Renaissance art was said to capture the mystery and beauty of the world. Known for the extensiveness of his interest, talent, and intellect, Leonardo da Vinci was the definitive Renaissance man. Michelangelo Buonarroti got his inspiration from the human body. Even with his painting of the Sistine Chapel, he was still known to be the dominant sculptor. It was said that there was much rivalry between the two artists.

It is said that Michelangelo and da Vinci did not like each other. The only story about this and it comes from the Codice Magliabecchiano, an anonymous manuscript. Within the manuscript, it sais that Leonardo was with a friend and they were passing the Spini Bank. There were several people there and they were discussing a passage in Dante. The saw Leonardo and asked him if he could explain its meaning to them. T then states that at that moment, Michelangelo was passing was passing through. Leonardo saw him and told the people that Michelangelo would be able to translate it for them. Michelangelo then replied to Leonardo “No, explain it yourself, horse-modeller that you are, who, unable to cast a statue in bronze, were forced to give up the attempt in shame.” (Richter, 2008). "Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else."– Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was born in Vinci, Italy on April 15, 1452. He was the illegitimate child of a young peasant woman and a respected notary. His parents never married. Da Vinci lived with his father in Ser Piero. By the age of fourteen, he began his apprenticeship with artist Verroccio. He studied for six years learning a variety of technical skills. These skills would include carpentry, drawing, and sculpting. He qualified as a master artist in the Guild of Saint Luke by the time he was twenty years old. He then had established his own workshop.

The Mona Lisa is possibly one of the most famous works of da Vinci. There were many rumors surrounding the lady in the Mona Lisa. It was said she had jaundice, she was a male in drag, or that she was a pregnant woman. The Mona Lisa is however, the wife of a merchant, her name is Lisa Gioconda. The Mona Lisa was da Vinci’s attempt at perfection. He kept it with him until his death never delivering it to whom it was painted for. The smile of the Mona Lisa is considered to be the most enigmatic and the most famous factor of the painting. It is said that her smile is hiding something, and the the viewer sees different shades in it. The hands are crossed with the right resting on the left. This gesture verses a wedding ring suggest Lisa being virtuous woman and faithful wife. A landscape makes up the entire background. She is not under an open sky. The Mona Lisa has the greatest distance and the most water. It has the densest atmosphere and loftiest peaks. The landscape is a mere portion of the globe itself, (,2011). “An aura of mystery surrounds this painting, which is veiled in a soft light, creating an atmosphere of enchantment. There are no hard lines or contours here (a technique of painting known as sfumato—fumo in Italian means "smoke"), only seamless transitions between light and dark.” (Bambach, 2012). The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 from the Louvre by an Italian. He was giving her back to Italy. Upon following an art tip two years later, an art dealer charmed the thief and the picture was returned to Paris. (Wagman, 2001).

Leonardo da Vinci is said to be one of histories greatest tinkers. Alon with his talent in drawing, art, and sculpting, he had many other interests as well. These include aerodynamics, engineering, science and anatomy. He observed nature and rejected what was then the primary source of knowledge, studying the bible and writings of ancient Greeks. Leonardo was constantly curious. He found his answers through experimenting and reasoning. He made meticulous drawings of anatomy using his artistic skills. They were very detailed based on his observations. Leonardo da Vinci stated, “To keep my gift to mankind from being lost to time, I teach the technique of reproducing things by printing.” The Vitruvian Man is said to possibly be one of da Vinci’s most famous illustrations. He used image and text in creating his own theories of Vitruvius. He was a first century Roman architect and also the author of ‘De Architectura libri X’. The ideas Leonardo put into the drawing gave the Renaissance the grounds for the proportional theories of art and architecture. Da Vinci’s illustration of Vitruvius is in pen. An ink drawing of a man. Surrounded by a circle, the man’s limbs are stretched touching the circumference and edges of a square. The center of the circle falls the men’s naval. The drawing shows a living man moving in dynamic presentation. He surrounds the drawing with his handwriting. The writing is a restatement of Vitruvius’ theory. The words are delineations of the square and circle making it apparent that the drawing was finished before the text was wrote. Through the existence of the script and the power of Vitruvius, it is explained why da Vinci generated the drawing. It is not a drawing of what the writing is saying, but an interaction between the two. The significance is in the connection of the drawing and the text, for they interact with each other. This drawing reflects da Vinci’s own likeness of architecture and the human proportions based through image and text. The purpose is bringing the ideas of architectural art together with the human anatomy and symmetry. The meaning da Vinci was getting through could not be said alone through text or image, making the combination of the two even more sacred. The Vitruvian Man holds a strong demonstration of enthusiasm in its reflection of ideas of its time. Leonardo da Vinci is subject to a special exhibit in the Museum of Science in Boston, being considered a great futurist. "We perceived an opportunity to create an exhibit experience that mirrored the essence of Leonardo," says Larry Bell, vice president for exhibits at the museum. "The exhibit, then, combines our trademark hands-on interactivity with elements of art and science, each one enhancing the other to create a clearer understanding of the subject just as Leonardo did in his own work. It's an approach to examining Leonardo that is, I believe, without peer." (The Futurist, 1997).

Da Vinci was appointed in 1482 to build the world’s largest sculpture of a horse by the Duke of Milan in hinor of his father, It was to stand guard over the Duke’s castle. It was to stand 24 feet high upon completion. Being a perfectionist, da Vinci spent years drawing up sketches to get every detail perfect. He made a clay model of full-size to be cast in bronze later. At the time, the bronze was needed to create cannons to protect the city from the threat of the French army. They used his clay model as crossbow practice. The sketches turned up about 500 years after the death of da Vinci. Transforming dusty red sketches into burnished bronze was the dream of an American Pilot. After reading the story of the bronze horse in a National Geographic Magazine, Charles Dent became fascinated. He was an amateur sculptor and art collector from Allentown, PA. He began creating a preliminary clay model of the bronze horse. He founded a non-profit organization that would help finish the sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci, and raise money to give the statue to Milan as a gift. The organization unveiled in 1999, the twenty-four foot tall bronze statue in Milan. "Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish." Michelangelo. Michelangelo was born in Caprese, Italy in 1475 on March 6. His family was in the banking business and had moderate means. Michelangelo began his apprenticeship under a painter. He later began studying the gardens of the Medici family. They were a powerful family. Michelangelo later began a remarkable career. He became recognized as an Italian Renaissance artist in his time for his artistic virtuosity. He is famous for such works as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and his statues of Pieta and David. Built in the late 1400's by Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel was a replacement for the medieval Capella Magna. The Capella Magna was considered to be dark, gloomy, and damp. The College of Cardinals elect the new pope, and the Sistine Chapel was built for the Vatican papal concave. The capellas materials and foundation were reused in building the chapel. The chapel was completed in 1480. A group of Florentine artists were sent to Rome by Lorenzo de' Medici. They were to Fresco the walss. This was a piece offering which was to mark the end of the Vatican war with Florence. The roof of the chapel began to leak after a few decades, and structural repairs needed. Pope Julius II had the repairs done after he was elected. The vault of stars that had been previously painted on the ceiling were so damagedthat Julius quickly sought out Michelangelo to repaint the ceiling. On a spring night in 1506, the pope and Bramante had a discussion over dinner. The conversation was later sent to Michelangelo by Rosselli, a Florentine Mason, who was also at the table that night. The pope sent architect Giuliano de Sangallo to bring Michelangelo from Florence to Rome. Bramante said to the pontiff that Michelangelo would not be interested in the project. He stated that Michelangelo said to him he '"did not wish to attend to anything but the tomb and not to painting'" (Nickerson,2008). Julius II returned to Rome after his conquests of the Papal States. This disrupted the contentment of Michelangelo. Michelangelo agreed to do the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in May of 1508. It would consume him over the next few yars. First, he had to design the scaffolding for him to reach the ceiling. The months that Michelangelo spent on the drawing for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he chose God and man working together. Scenes from Genesis are down the center of the vault. It goes backwards in chronological order startingwith Noah to creation. The prophets that predicted christ are sitting on thrones. Mothers, children, and fathers of the human families are in triangular frames above the windows. The lunettes are painted with Jesus' ancestors. This is the establishment of linear from Moses to Christ. (Nickerson, 2008).The four corners tell of Jewish victory. Michelangelo had employed some assistants to help prepare plaster, paint small figures, and get his colors ready. There is some controversy as to some of what Michelangelo had painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. From Pisa University, a researcher by the name of Elena Lazzarini states that she believes the ceiling is of homosexual imagery. Shis she sais includes a man being dragged by his testicles to damnation and the men embracing and kissing each other. (Squires, 2010). Within the Sistine Chapel, lies an invigorating portrait amongst all those Michelangelo painted on that ceiling. It is the Creation of Adam. It is located in the central part of the ceilings painting. It seems to have an obstetric symbolism. It shows that Michelangelo painted the birth of Adam from God. It seems that the choir of angels makes a resemblance to a placenta between the colors and the placement of the angels heads. They tend to be the same as a placenta’s cotyledons. Recalling the umbilical cord in shape and color, is the right arm of God and the left arm of Adam intersecting and touching. The torsion of the muscles seem to resemble that of the torsion of veins and arteries of the umbilical cord. Flowing water on the lower right below God is symbolic for amniotic fluid. The two legs that protrude from the lower profile represent the dialated cervix. Amniotic membranes may be seen in God’s vest. Michelangelo seemed to have painted the perfect image of a symbolic birth while using the open robe of God as an open uterus. He used the dark wine-red which is the exact color of the uterus. 'In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.'-Michelangelo The Guild of Wool Merchants of Florence commissioned Michelangelo to carve a statue in 1501 from one of the buttresses of the Cathedral of Florence. Michelangelo then began David at the age of twenty-six. The statue took him two years finishing in 1504. David stands as a mastery of human form and sculpture for Michelangelo. (Saad, 2005). The sculpture of David showed an image of an animal not killing by brute force, but by skill and intellect, unlike previous works showing David after he had slain and beheaded Goliath. Daid has anatomical imperfections despite Michelangelo’s human anatomy mastery. The left hand is smaller than the right. There is an enlarged abductor. This was said to draw attention to the stone. It is to show power and strength. The left eye seems to be looking left, while the right eye is in its primary position. With viewers unable to see the statue at arms-length and eye level, this detail of the eyes has been able to go unrecognized for hundreds of years. In addition to the pedestal on which it stands, the statue is roughly 5 meters tall. Marc Levoy, a computer science professor at Standford University, led the Digital Michelangelo Project in 1999. It showed three-dimensional computer model that showed David in different lighting and colour giving new prospective not seen by viewing or photographing the statue. When viewing David, only one eye can be seen at a time when walking around him. This is an artistic tool used by Michelanglo known as exodeviation. The viewer sees David as looking at him when looking from the left. It is as though David is focusing on Goliath. When the viewer stands to the right, the statue seems to reflect power and intelligence. “ Michaelangelo fashioned his David with a sublime balance of power, intellect, and neoclassical beauty,” (Saad, 2005). Michelangelo Shows great skill in his sculpture Piet, which is Italian for pity. The sculpture is reference to the Virgin Mary and the recent demise of her son, although there is no mention of this in the bible. The proportions of the figures are off, displaying pyramidal structure. Mary is shown as being a young woman, which goes against tradition. Her left hand is being seen as calling for compassion while the right holds the deceased body. It is rumored that Michelangelo believed that he is arguing his motivational choice of Mary’s virginity causing her not to age normally. The sculpture was designed for St. Peter’s Basilica where it is still displayed in Rome. It may be one of Michelangelo’s famous sculptures, and the only one he ever signed. Despite the hype, there was no dual nor a Renaissance defining rivalry between the two artists. Both were commissioned in 1503 to paint separate pieces in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Leonardo The Battle of Anghiari, and Michelangelo to do the Battle of Cascina. (Meyers, 2012). In a recent article, The Lost Battles, Meyers quotes another author, Jones, as saying how Jones described Michelangelo’s paintings as "no battle. No fighting. Just men getting out of the water, naked" and as "alert, courageous, active soldiers rushing to seek the enemy." Renaissance art seemed to have been of religious images. They are viewed today as some of the greatest works of art, but during their time, they were considered images of religious rituals. Many of the works done during the Renaissance were done as alter pieces. They were associated with Catholic Mass and were the donations of those who sponsored the Mass. The artists of the Renaissance came from various levels of society. They would generally study as an apprentice before they were admitted into a professional guild working under the care of an older master artist. The artists would work on commission hired by the patrons of the arts for they were steady and reliable. The middle class of Italy would copy the aristocracy, purchasing art for their homes. These artistic works were portrayals of domestic themes such as family life, birth, and marriage as well as the sacred images.

Both artists gave so much great influence to the Renaissance through their paintings and sculptures. Both were men of wisdom and insight. They based their art on how they perceived the world to be, and not how others saw it. They were very intellectual and talented. Not only did their artistic genius show through their art, but also in their writing. “Sculpture, the first of arts, delights a taste still strong and sound: each act, each limb, each bone are given life and, lo, man's body is raised, breathing alive, in wax or clay or stone. But oh, if time's inclement rage should waste, or maim, the statue that man builds alone, its beauty still remains, and can be traced back to the source that claims it as its own.” Michelangelo. Leonardo wrote “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death”. Renaissance art is part of our history as well as our culture. Perhaps it is the greatest artistic influence of all times.

Bambach, Carmen (2012). Leonardo Da Vinci. Retrieved January 14, 2013 from
da Vinci, Leonardo, Wells, Martin, and Kemp, T. (2008). Notebooks. Retrieved January 28, 2013from

Esaak, Shelley (2013). Michelangelo. Retrieved January 14, 2013 from Finnan, Vincent (2012). Michelangelo and David. Retrieved January 14, 2013 from

Freud, Sigmund. (1999). Leonardo da Vinci. Retrieved January 28,2013 from
Harris, Dr. B, (2005) Leonardo da Vinci. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from Leonardo da Vinci’s life. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from Meyers, J. (2012). The lost battles: Leonardo, michelangelo and the artistic duel that defined the renaissance. The Booklist, 109(1), 24-24. Retrieved from Michelangelo. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 02:07, Jan 28, 2013, from

Nickerson, Angela. (2008) Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from
Renaissance Art (2013) Retrieved from 2011-. Present
Renaissance futurist: Leonardo da vinci. (1997). The Futurist, 31(3), 25-26. Retrieved from REVKIN, A. C. (1999, Jun 27). Da vinci's dream horse realized 500 years later in huge bronze statue. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from Shaikh, S., & Leonard-Amodeo, J. (2005). The deviating eyes of michelangelo's david. Royal Society of Medicine (Great Britain).Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 98(2), 75-6. Retrieved from Squires, Nick. ( 2010). Michelangelo’s last judgement figures ‘based on male prostitutes’. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from

Tranquilli, A. L., Luccarini, A., & Emanuelli, M. (2007). The creation of adam and god-placenta. Journal of Maternal - Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 20(2), 83-7. Retrieved from Wagman, J. Special To,The Post. (2001, Dec 26). History of "mona lisa" brings a smile. St.Louis Post – Dispatch. Retrieved from Wallace, W. E. (2012, Nov 17). REVIEW --- masterpiece: Sistine chapel ceiling (1512) by michelangelo: 'painting is not my art'. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from Zucker, Dr. S. (2005) Michelangelo. Retrieved January 28, 2013 from

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