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History of Italian Renaissance Art

Updated on November 6, 2011

Drawings by Michelangelo

History of italian renaissance art

History of italian renaissance art

Between 1250 and 1600 the arts in Italy suddenly took a enorms creative step forwards. It was a rebirth - renaissance of the arts. Rebirth, because the first birth was during the Greek and Roman empires. The renaissance artists admired the Greek and Roman art and therefore the name Renaissance was born.

350 years is a great time laps, therefore the renaissance is divided by art historians in early renaissance,High Renaissance and the Late Renaissance.

Early Renaissance in Italy, 1400-1479

The early Renaissance in Italy is based upon the Proto Renaissance (from 1280-1400) period with Gioto as a key player, changing and modernizing the Byzantine art style.
Is starts around 1400 and oficialy at the year 1401 (which is a bid odd to my opinion....) because in 1401 Donatello won a art competition where he had to sculpt a set of bronze doors of the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral. Besides Donatello, Brunellechi won too, and they started both the Early Renaissance.
Brunelleschi was a wide know architect famous for his design of the Church of San Lorenzo and the Florence Cathedral. His studies about perspective had a huge influence on the painter Massacio.
And the architectural elements start to appear in the renaissance paintings and drawings, perspective is taking it's place in painting. And never lost it's place. Even in contemporary art, artists build upon the discoveries of perspective, which where made during the early Renaissance.


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The High Renaissance. -1490 - 1527

The High Renaissance period is traditionally starts in the 1490s, with a fresco of Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper in Milan and the death of Lorenzo de 'Medici in Florence also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Although Lorenzo de Medici was the first of the Medici to be educated from early on in a humanist fashion he wasn't a good businessman and the grand empire of the Medici crumbled under him. He was though one of the greatest patrons of the arts.
The High Renaissance was dominated by Leonardo de Vinci, Titian, Michelangelo, among others.,

Frederick Hartt wrote an immensely educated book about the history of Italian renaissance art. His work is well received and aknolidged for many years, hence the 7th edition. His masterpiece round up the whole period of the Italian Renaissance art. The history written about this period is well readable for the layman and the reproductions are stunning.

But back to the topic, In the High Renaissance not only the arts where in full swing. Science took a leap forward as well. Leonardo doing his thing and inventing and doing research in loads of different fields. His famous drawing about the "Vitruvian Man", the perfect proportions of man, and the many inventions are a testimony of it. Gelileo Galilei as well, discovered moon of Jupiter and argued strongly for a different world view. A view where not the earth was the centre of the universe, but a universe where the earth revolved around the sun.

In the Late Renaissance - 1500-1600

After a while The Italian Renaissance chainged and artists started to travel to other cities in Europe.
Even before the death of Raphael in 1520 the decay started and the Mannerism became fashionable. A style that would be the start of the Baroque. Mannerism was an aesthetic movement that valued highly refined grace and elegance--the beautiful maniera, or style, from which Mannerism takes its name.
The showing of of individual virtuosity became an important component of artistic achievement, and rivalry often provoked competition based on brilliance of individual performance. The self-consciousness of the Mannerist artists, and their efforts to match or surpass the great masters who had originated and preceded them, were the symptoms of a style gone to far. the meaning of the Renaissance was gone. The freshness faded away in technique and cunning.

What's your favorite Renaissance Painting or Drawing ?

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      Jade 4 years ago

      What is the name of that paring of that girl