The term Renaissance, adopted from the French equivalent of the Italian word ‘rinascita’ literally means ‘rebirth’. “The term ‘Renaissance’ might now be defined as a model of cultural history in which the culture of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe is represented as a repudiation of medieval values in favor of the revival of the culture of ancient Greece and Rome. ” It describes the radical and comprehensive changes that took place in European culture, embodying for the first time the values of the modern world, as stated by ArtHistory.
From the 1490’s onward Italy, beginning its High Renaissance became an object of incessant attention, not only for traveling clerics and scholars, but also for the diplomats and courtiers of all European countries. Italian towns such as Venice, Genoa, Milan and Florence acted as gateways to and from the East for the new products and ideas. Consequently, they grew rich, along with their merchants, princes and the church, all of whom would come to patronize the arts. The Italian city of Florence was first in embracing humanism and the classicism of ancient Greece and Rome.
By the 5th century, humanism had become a way of life for all levels of society During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Venice, the “Most Serene Republic,” was one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Venice was an extraordinarily wealthy, powerful, and cosmopolitan city. The ruling doge was selected by the ruling oligarchy and was more of a protector of the republic than a ruler. During the 16th century, high renaissance Venice was at a cultural pinnacle. Composers like Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, Adrian Willaert, and Claudio Merlo flourished in a musical environment that called for grand works that revealed the glory of Venice.
Florence is another musical center in Italy. Some of its best musicians, artist, and scholars of the renaissance were supported by the cardinals from the Medici Family. . Among the most remarkable composers were Bernardo Pisano, Philippe Verdelot and Francesco de Layolle. The dominance of the Franco-Flemish and Netherlandish composers is clearly illustrated in the careers of leading composers between 1450 and 1550. Most of them passed a large part of their lives in the service of the kings of France, the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of them also worked in the courts and cities of Italy like the Florence.
These courts, in turn, were the chief centers for spreading the art of the French, Flemish, and Netherlandish composers. The Middle Ages greatly challenged human perseverance and spirit. Living was hard for almost everyone except the ruling elite. Then widespread famines, prolonged wars, and plagues were the most harrowing times in recorded history of Italy. But the Italian society was not broken by these crises. Instead, the Italians reborn themselves and help developed the fundamental artistic, religious, romantic, and political ideas of the Renaissance Period.
These ideas continued to influence our life today. Renaissance symbolizes the period of transition of the European history from the middle Ages to that of a Modern world. It is a fact that Renaissance developed in quiet earlier in Italy while in Northern Europe it developed later in 16th century. This century is mark with an era of extensive cultural achievement consequential to the revival of interest in the classical art and ideas of Ancient Greece and Rome. The rediscovery of classical world revolutionized the art of painting depicted in the revival of spiritual form and content.
The spiritual content of painting changed where subjects from Roman history and mythology were borrowed. Devotional art of Christian orientation became classically humanized. The way of life in Italy during the Renaissance period was greatly influenced with art and literature which caused them to strive for more wealth, whereas the way of life during the classic antiquity was characterized with religious norms and values content to simple living and voided of lavish eccentricities.
The practical way of life during the renaissance Italy changed the perspectives of people including the manner which women’s roles are viewed, and while this was the period which served as the catalyst for modernization. Renaissance is the period in Western civilization that ignited the rebirth of the intellectual and economic stature of Europe. From the fourteenth century to the sixteenth century, the Europe rekindled its drive for excellence of its artistic, social, scientific, and other intellectual pursuits, which were almost stagnated during the Middle Ages.
It also laid down a fertile soil for the questioning of the authenticity and rationality that characterize the next period of Western civilization, the Reformation. Logic and balance became the pillars of Renaissance. The fanaticism and mysticism that are imprinted into the European mind brought about by the Middle Ages has been gradually debunked by the resurgence of rational thought of the period. Reason and not a blind following of the imposed doctrines by the church became the yardstick of the beauty, morality, and rightness of a principle or a thing.
Rigid rationality and mathematical exactness has also been manifested in the artistic pursuits during this period. The beauty of balance and symmetry became evident in the artistic masterpieces that were produced herein. Having the notion that the ideal works of art should follow the strict logical and mathematical guidelines, artists in this era produced almost perfect symmetrical, proportional and balanced works of art.
“Crucial to the development of Italian Renaissance was the emergence of the artist as a creator, respected and sought after for his intellectual and imaginative genius. Renaissance architectural masterpieces were towering proofs of this artistic principle. According to Art History 361: Summary of the Renaissance: “A harmony of all parts with symmetry and order of geometric proportions and designs using Classical architectural elements” characterize Renaissance architecture. The intricacy of the designs during the medieval times was toned down to simplicity cleanness of design. Architectural beauty was a by-product of mathematical exactness.
Claude Fayette Bragdon critically discussed the relation of the artist’s personal beliefs and lifestyle to his works, in his book The Beautiful Necessity. For him, “art is an expression of the self in terms of sense. ” Art then is physical manifestation of one’s self—one’s ideology and tenets. Since art is a medium of expression, it subliminally evokes messages that create an effect in a person’s consciousness. Just as a writer can affect the psychological status and character of his reader, artists, as well as architects, can also affect the psyche spectator of his magnum opus.
If writers use meticulously chosen words, sentences, and paragraphs to evoke effective messages to influence his readers, we can also say that each component of an architectural feat affects the psychological status of a person that receives what the particular work of art conveys. Thus, the structural organization of the parts of his art form reflects his personal character and by way of visual communication, he can also affect moods of those seeing his work. This is what the Renaissance artists believe in the process of creating their masterpiece.
The predominant philosophy in those times is the rebirth of intellectual and rational appetite that was mitigated by the mysticism of the Middle Ages. The orderly, systematic, harmonious, symmetric, and mathematical precision of architectural works during this period subliminally evoke the message that the person seeing the artist’s work should likewise become orderly, systematic and precise—qualities that personify the “ideal” person of the Renaissance period.
The practical way of life during the renaissance Italy changed the perspectives of people including the manner which women’s roles are viewed, and while this was the period which served as the catalyst for modernization. “Understanding of the roles brought not only social success but freedom as well. ” The perception of nature changed during Renaissance, and this transformed the conception of God and of man. Nature came to be viewed as an autonomous, creative organism. Renaissance artists observed nature and, through their work, they were seeking to obtain perfection.
To them, form was an ideal to be achieved. This concern, combined with the growing interest in nature, awakened curiosity and sensitivity towards cosmic harmony. The concern for depicting nature in the most realistic and detailed manner was one of the fundamental characteristics of the new aesthetics. The ancient principle of art imitating nature was reinstated, yet nature was not taken simply as a model to copy but to use it as a creative force. Through the mind, the artists are challenged to achieve perfection and higher beauty of an imperfect nature.
Leonardo was specially inclined to think of the human mind (“il modello del mondo” as he proclaimed it), as a powerful creator. The humanism flourished during the period known as the Renaissance. It focused on learning the human nature and values which were deemed to be more important than religious ones. It was the era of glorifying individualism, the art revival and flourishing, and science development crowned by many new inventions and discoveries. The Italian humanists represent a new emphasis on the value of human achievements in this life rather than seeing it simply as preparation for the life to come.
One particular feature of humanism was the courtier system born from the interaction between humanist philosophers and the signorial courts of the city-states. The humanists developed new ideas about the conduct of the courtiers, etiquette and manners. “One of the authors who contributed greatly to the development of the conduct code of that time is Baldassare Castiglione, the most renowned humanist involved with the courtier movement. ”
People during Renaissance period valued education. “The sign of good education is the knowledge of Latin and Greek and the familiarity with literary trends. People chose to change their view on many different things. And it was there own decision and a result of there search for knowledge. “Humans are free to change themselves at their will which other creatures cannot do. ” Renaissance Classicism was a form of art that removed the extraneous detail and showed the world as it was. Forms, colors and proportions, light and shade effects, facial harmony, composition, perspective, anatomy: all are handled with great control, and a high level of accomplishment, for which there are no real precedents.
According to Hersey, “achievements in painting, sculpture, and architecture formed the backbone of Italian Renaissance. They have greatly influenced subsequent art. The politics and ideology behind these great works was as ambitious as the artistic instinct that guided them. ” On art and paintings of the Renaissance, the book by Freedberg is reviewed by Schulz. He says that a “detailed account is presented of the formal changes occurring in Roman and Florentine painting between 1480 and 1520.
Artists of the Renaissance moved by discrete stages, rather than by slow, inner maturing. Ferguson clarifies the relationships of the Renaissance and of humanism, to their pasts, ancient and medieval. But he left open the question of their relationship to, and “influence upon the historical genesis of the future. ” It is generally perceived that the culture of humanism which originated mostly from Italy, and spread through the rest of Europe in the era of the Renaissance and Reformation, took root, and initiated new patterns of relationships and attitudes among people in the future generations.
Some of the greatest artists ever known: the mighty Florentines: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, the Umbrian: Raphael Sanzio, along with the great Venetian masters: Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese have created great works in which all the elements of Renaissance art can be seen. In these works, an ideal of harmony and balance was achieved, comparable with the works of ancient Greece or Rome. Giotto was one of the great artists who began working on creating more realistic pictures of the human figure and to present them as more dimensional. Even during his lifetime, he was admired and highly regarded for his naturalism and his expressive, representative art. ”
Artists in Florence could quickly link the mathematical comprehension of the ancient Greeks and Romans to the proportional focus of their own world. These mathematical terms were a common factor between the makeup of great works of art as well as providing a means of instantly communicating understanding of balance and structure to their audience, who were also highly mathematically inclined. In an age of non-standard shipping units, one had to be able to calculate contents and quantities of shipments fairly rapidly. ” Painters used their foundational knowledge in geometry to create familiar elements in their paintings that would communicate their intentions to the greatest possible audience.
“In the same way that a painter could reduce the human form or settings to a play of geometrical figures, so could the merchant simplify all things to geometrical configurations. By melding mathematics and artistic expression, artists came to realize how to present their figures with a new impression of weight and volume that had not been earlier achieved. This new ability to provide realism in a painting led to even greater explorations into how the world around them manifested itself in visual responsiveness. The arts cannot only express the divine, but the capacity of the Man to create and transform itself.
“This idea was further elaborated to the individual’s free creative power dominating art and literature of the Renaissance. The rebirth of art in Italy was associated with the rediscovery of ancient philosophy, literature, and science and the growth of practical methods of study in these fields, consequentially the subject matter relative to Greek and Roman history and mythology is usually injected as the core theme of almost all artistic masterpieces at this time. The artistry conveyed stories either from classical mythology or Christian tradition with which the ability to depict men, women, and children in a full range of postures and poses, as well as their different emotional reactions and colorful situations, was among its defining character.