renaissance humanism

Topics: Renaissance, Italy, Humanism Pages: 11 (3681 words) Published: November 12, 2013

An Examination of the relationship between a humanist theory and three art works from the Renaissance.

Art History 3.7 (91488)

Cassandra Breen 13BT
10 July 2013

The Humanism movement occurred during the 14th and early 15th century in Italy, and later spread to the rest of Europe becoming known as the Renaissance. Writers, politicians, scholars and artists engaged in the movement, which was developed in response to the scholastic conventions at the time. The conventions of education emphasised a utilitarian, practical, pre-professional and scientific studies for job preparation, by men. Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach seeking to create a citizenry, including women, able to speak and write with eloquence and thus able to engage the civic life of their communities. The humanistic approach was accomplished through the study of humanities including grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy.

Humanism aimed to revive the cultural and moral philosophy of classical antiquity. The movement was largely founded on the ideals of Italian scholar and poet, Francesco Petrarca. These ideals centred on humanity’s potential for achievement. The theory of Humanism revolves around several main principles that focus on the role of humans in their environment. For example, humanists believe there is no external divine intervention between humans and the physical environment in which they operate and that human beings are not subject to God or any divine agency. They have no obligation to love, fear or obey a supernatural agent. In addition, all beliefs must be founded on reason and the human experience and all human beings are entitled to inalienable human rights. Additional principles include the belief that humans do not have a right of dominion over animals and the environment and that Civil laws should be arrived at by a collective consensual process and should promote the common good. Special privileges should not be given to any group on the basis of religious beliefs and finally, humanists believed that there was no evidence that life after death exists and humans should focus on living this life While humanism initially began as a predominantly literary and political movement, its influence quickly spread to the general culture of the time, reintroducing classical Greek and Roman art forms. Humanists considered the ancient world to be pinnacle of the human achievement and thought its accomplishments should serve as the model for contemporary Europe.

Humanism affected the artistic community and how artists were perceived. While medieval society viewed artists as servants and craftspeople, Renaissance artists were trained intellectuals, and their art reflected this newfound perspective. Art in the middle ages was usually anonymous, where the artist created the artworks to glorify God. However in the Renaissance, artists became famous for their work. Patronage of the arts became an important activity and commissions were no longer for religious themes, but were for secular themes as well.

In painting, the treatment of the elements of perspective, geometry and light became of particular importance. The use of oil paint had its beginnings in the early part of the 16th century and its use continued to be explored extensively throughout the coming High Renaissance of the 16th century.

Humanism in art celebrates individuals of the middle class; there were thousands of portraits of merchants, scholars, musicians, wives, and children during the Renaissance.

Humanism considers that people can solve difficulties on their own, without the help of God. Many non-Christian works created in the Renaissance support such a philosophy, especially Raphael's "School of Athens".

Finally, humanism affected the art world through the naturalistic way of portraying the human body using full anatomical accuracy, and frequently nude characters. Many of...

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