IWT1 Task1

Topics: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Fresco Pages: 10 (2341 words) Published: November 10, 2014

Comparison and Contrast of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Christine Henry
Western Governors University
Literature, Arts and Humanities

October 20, 2014
Comparison and Contrast of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
This essay will compare and contrast the visual arts of the Middle Ages, called medieval art, with the arts of the Renaissance period by giving an overview of each period and illustrate how the collision between these two periods, and what influenced them, brought about new forms of visual artistic form and style. The Middle Ages began after the fall of the Roman Empire around 476AD until the 1400s (Museum of Science, 1997). This time period marks widespread European focus on spirituality, salvation, life after death, heaven and hell, and doing good works. The Middle Ages were times of denying personal enjoyment with a strong focus on faith, corporate unity, and Christian theological scholasticism. The Catholic Church grew substantially during this time by building numerous buildings and establishing government and their influence over society (University of St. Tomas, 2014). The shift toward corporate unity and the loss of classical Roman and Greek learning influenced the visual arts. St Augustine of Hippo, a Christian writer theologian and philosopher who wrote his Soliloquies in 386-387 AD, felt there was no place for Christian images in visual arts. He felt Christian images were an illusionary deception leading to idolatry of the art image rather than God himself. Though this disapproval for Christian art was made, Christian artists continued their works, but painted images of abstraction with flat appearances and expressionless subjects. Artists no longer used shading, perspective, or detail in order to preclude image portrayal of its natural likeness (Ross, n.d.). Animal symbolism became a large integral part of biblical art. The lamb portrayed as Christ is an example of animal symbolism signifying Christ as the sacrificial lamb for humanity. An example of this form of symbolism is portrayed in a carved ivory work of an unknown artist, Plaque with Agnus Dei on a Cross between Emblems of the Four Evangelists, dated between 1000-1500 AD (Agnus Dei, 1000-1050 AD). There were many different visual art forms during the Middle Ages such as sculptures, mosaics, architecture, drawings, and paintings. The medieval art of the late Middle Ages, 1000-1200 AD, was termed ‘Romanesque art’ by art historian and Romanesque sculptor, Meyer Shapiro, in the nineteenth century (Petzold, n.d.). The late Middle Ages marked an increase in economic stability throughout Europe, forging the church a stable financial platform to build larger and grander churches embellished with different forms of Christian artwork (Collins & Muireadhaigh, n.d.). Romanesque art was initially noted by the return of the classical style of architectural arches from the ancient Roman Empire, but the term was also used more generally to include mural paintings and other art forms during the time period (Spanswick, n.d.). Romanesque mural painting techniques were done by wax, distemper, or fresco, but this paper will focus on fresco. Fresco paintings were widely used throughout Italy during the late Middle Ages, but the technique originated 30,000 years ago in France. Romanesque fresco paintings became widespread and a platform for artists to accomplish their works. Murals were painted on walls and ceilings of cathedrals and wood panels to educate the illiterate about biblical stories through elaborate scenes and narratives (Collins & Muireadhaigh, n.d.). The Romanesque fresco is termed buon fresco, meaning ‘true fresh,” and accomplished by applying lime plaster to a surface and painting the mural scene in sections with pure color pigments mixed with water before the plaster dries. The lime in the plaster binds the pigment resulting in color-enriched calcium carbonate, therefore this fresco technique does not...

References: Collins, N., & Muireadhaigh, A. N. (Eds.). (n.d.). Renaissance art in Italy (c.1400-1600). Retrieved from http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/renaissance-art.htm#effects
Collins, N., & Muireadhaigh, Å
Plaque with Agnus Dei on a cross between emblems of the four evangelists [Carved ivory]. (1000-1050 AD). Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.190.38
Ross, N
Williams, C. (2011). Conservation of Medieval wall paintings. Retrieved from academia.edu: http://www.academia.edu/4299697/Medieval_Grave_Fresco_Documentation
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