Italian Renaissance Art

Italian Renaissance Art is closely tied to the advancements in science, numbers, trade, architecture, and astronomy that occurred at the same time. Historians disagree on when the ancient arts of the Renaissance started and when it ended but widely agree it started primarily in Italy. A famous example is the paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo:

  • Mona Lisa
  • The Last Supper
  • Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Around the end of the 1300s there developed a new sort of Gothic art style that was more realistic and less symbolic then medieval art. The major cities of Northern Italy Venice, Milan, Florence and Genoa became very wealthy as a result of world trade for spices and other luxuries. These wealthy land owners and politicians developed a taste in art and this is where Italian Renaissance art history begins.

Florence was the largest city in Europe in the 15th century. The wealthy business people that made the city rich were also determined to make it one of the most beautiful. The cathedral dome designed by Brunelleschi gave the city’s inhabitants great pride. The powerful banker named Cosimo de Medici made a second career in the arts and libraries and came to be called “father of the country.”

I think it is interesting to note that one reason Florence became so wealthy was the use of, or conversion to Arabic numerals and the introduction of zero instead of Roman numerals. Any businessman could calculate if he was making a profit instead of hiring a mathematician. Also the banks circumvented the Church’s ban on charging interest by saying the borrower repaid with a gift in return for the use of the money.

The art world of the Renaissance was one of professionalism for artists. The materials they used were expensive and they would not purchase them until they had a signed contract, and sometimes a small up front payment, to begin a piece of work. One of the first Italian Renaissance artists of note was Giotto and after his influences it became fashionable to own art. The art began to change too, for example the concept of perspective developed. Up until this time paintings portrayed their subjects as flat, roads did not disappear in the distance and lines of tile floors did not converge as they receded. Leonardo Da Vinci was not the earliest to use this new method but is certainly well known for his oil paintings using perspective.

Sculpture also developed in new directions in Florence. One of the most notable pieces is the doors to the Baptistery. Other sculptures took on a new style from the clothed saints in churches. They were naked and otherwise erotic. Both Michelangelo’s and Donatello’s David are well known nudes but there were many others which was uncommon until that time. This was a shock and a major shift to the medieval mindset.

The classical past of Greece and Rome set the tone for Renaissance art, not the more recent medieval ways. As the Middle Ages gave way people saw themselves more as individuals with their own dignity and pride. Artists no longer wanted to depict humans as small and symbolic; they wanted to show through artwork that people had their own unique thoughts and feelings. Medieval scholars thought human bodies were shameful, smelly, disgusting and the less they were seen the better. Renaissance artists felt differently, that earthly existence could be a pleasant experience.

Along with the new use of perspective in paintings was the new use of light. Renaissance artists painted life as they saw it with shadows, detail, and emotions. Religious subjects continued to play an important part of art. Many artists were monks.

The Medici family’s power continued to grow with Lorenzo the Magnificent. He was a great patron of the arts and encouraged others to commission art too. Lorenzo had art made by Botticelli and Michelangelo as well as poets. The art of Leonardo and Michelangelo influenced Raphael, also of Florence. Raphael’s paintings had grace and notably, painted many attractive, sensual women.

One of the most important achievements in the history of art is the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome painted by Michelangelo. His version of God making Adam is so influential that many images of God to this day are based on it. Also, Rome had fallen behind Venice and Florence in terms of its power for a long time and the ceiling is one example of the city’s new greatness.

Other Ancient Art

Ancient Art
This is includes the classic ancient art from history including Gemini symbol, Greeks, Egyptians, Renaissance, Gothic, Byzantine, Baroque, Middle ages, and Kokopelli paintings.

Gothic Art
Started in the Chartres France Cathedral and soon spread through all Europe with architecture, painting, and music.

Greek Art
The subject matter of most Greek art was the myths of Zeus, his family and other gods of great importance.

Ancient Greek Art
The best ancient Greek art examples are the Venus de Milo, Aphrodite, and the Parthenon.

Baroque Art
Designed to appeal to the senses by impressing and inspiring a sense of awe.

Byzantine Art
Includes spectacular mosaics, paintings and churches across Europe

Egyptian Art
The Bust of Nefertiti is both beautiful and has a rich history from the tombs and pyramids.

Ancient Egyptian Art
The pyramids are spectacular but the most well known collection of ancient Egyptian art was the treasure from King Tut’s tomb, the boy king.

Gemini Symbol Art
The history behind tattoo designs of Gemini symbol art is based on Greek mythology and several sets of twins who were opposites. The Gemini symbol is well known as the horoscope zodiac astrological sign of love.

Kokopelli Art
Kokopelli Art is based on the fluteplayer from the Native American Hopi kachina god Kookopolo and Maahu.

To check out other artwork (including sexy shoes) by Doug Dourgarian and see more links for his online art gallery click here for his web gallery of art .

Click here to leave Renaissance Art for more links to artistic styles, artists and their online art galleries, art prints and art posters. Browse the links found at the bottom of Home Page.