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The Renaissance Era Essay, Research Paper
The Renaissance Art
The Renaissance, from the French word meaning rebirth, began in the early 14th century to the late 16th century. The “rebirth” of art in Italy was connected with the rediscovery of ancient philosophy, literature, science and the evolution of empirical methods of study in these fields. (http://www.infoplease.com/ce5/CE043724.html) Increased awareness of classical knowledge created a new resolve to learn by direct observation and study of the natural world. The models provided by ancient buildings and works of art inspired the development of new artistic techniques and the desire to re-create the forms and styles of classical art. Among some of the greatest Renaissance artists were Donatello, Titian, Giotto, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and the Renaissance man, Da Vinci. (Kohl, Benjamin G. Renaissance , Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
Donato di Niccolo di Bette Bardi, called Donatello, was the preeminent genius of early Renaissance sculpture in Florence, Italy. (Lewine, Milton E. Donatello , Grolier Encyclopedia, 9.0) He worked in every size and medium of sculpture and explored the new humanistic ideas then current in Florence, always balancing a realism based on the study of humanistic nature with an idealism derived from antique sculpture. Donatello had rediscovered contrapposto, the opposition in a body of contrasted masses, and adapted the drapery to the body’s movement. The result is a figure of great organic vitality and unity.
From this point on, Donatello sought to characterize his figures as individual personalities rather than as types. Donatello’s accomplishment in such reliefs is fully realized in his gilt bronze Herod’s Feast. In the gilt bronze St. Louis of Toulouse he showed his familiarity with the ideas of Masaccio in characterizing the
active inner life of the saint through drapery suggesting strong movement framed by a silhouette. In this work Donatello created probably the first free-standing bronze nude since antiquity, and the adolescent’s slim sinuosity, his nudity emphasized by hat, sword, and greaves, symbolizes another Renaissance ideal, physical grace and beauty. (Lewine, Milton E. Donatello , Grolier Encyclopedia, 9.0)
Another is Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian, the greatest painter of the Renaissance in Venice and ranks as one of the most brilliant and influential masters in the entire development of European art. About 400 surviving paintings can be attributed to Titian with confidence, and many other now-lost works are known to have been produced during his extremely long and prolific career.
By the middle of the second decade of the 16th century Titian was painting such works as Sacred and Profane Love, which gives a full sense of the harmony and rich tonality of his sensuous classical style. His painting of the Assumption displays the full extent of his powers in a work that is at once monumental in scale, intensely energetic, and vibrant in coloring.
A rapid worker, Titian had the gift of penetrating the character of his sitters and was able to convey these insights, together with an air of dignity and an astonishing sense of physical vitality.The extremely rich effects of color, atmosphere, and light, always a remarkable feature of Titian’s painting style, became even more pronounced in the works of his late period. In his control of rapidly applied and thickly brushed paint, Titian was capable of producing an astonishingly tangible fusion of physical substance and light-filled atmosphere. In his final works, The Crown of Thorns and The Deposition, Titian became even more simplified and bold in his technique, endowing his works with an emotional impact that is mystical and haunting in its
power. (Hiesinger, Ulrich. Titian. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
The leading Florentine painter of his generation, Giotto di Bondone, created a revolution in painting that set Italian Renaissance art on the course it would follow for centuries. Giotto broke free of the flat, ethereal Byzantine manner of his Italian predecessors by painting convincing human figures with the semblance of weighty pieces of sculpture placed within a convincing illusion of space. Giotto dramatized religious narratives with a keen comprehension of human behavior in a way that later artists seldom equaled or surpassed. In Giotto’s lifetime his most famous work was the mosaic Navicella which is now all but destroyed. (Buser, Thomas. Giotto di Bondone , Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
The Italian Michelangelo Buonarotti, almost certainly the most famous artist produced by Western civilization and arguably the greatest, is universally viewed as the supreme Renaissance artist He created monumental works of painting, sculpture, and architecture and left an additional legacy of numerous letters and poems. Through this vast and multifaceted body of artistic achievement, Michelangelo made an indelible imprint on the Western imagination. His lifelong fascination with the sublime form of the human body arose from this thoroughly Florentine sensitivity to the inherent worth and nobility of individuals.
One of Michelangelo s greatest work is his sculpture of David, a colossal evocation of athletic prowess and dynamic action. This marble giant was carved in Florence as a symbol of the proud independence of the Florentine republic, whose existence was being threatened by more powerful states. Depicted just before his historic battle with Goliath, David reveals a psychologically charged state of mind that is reflected in the contrapposto of his pose. In this heroic work Michelangelo successfully fused classical inspiration with Florentine humanism and enhanced this
fusion through his own depiction of the male nude.
The remainder of Michelangelo’s career was largely controlled by his relationship with the papacy, and from 1505 to 1516 the Vatican became the focal point of his artistic endeavors. Michelangelo’s organization of the Sistine ceiling frescoes represents perhaps the most complex composition in Western art. The space contains an intricate illusionistic architectural structure that serves as a frame for the disposition of the sculpturelike forms. Of the nine central narrative scenes illustrating events from the creation of the universe as told in Genesis, the most sublime scene is the Creation of Adam, in which Michelangelo’s new vision of human beauty, first articulated in the David, attains pictorial form.
In the four years that it took to complete the ceiling, Michelangelo realized the full potential of the High Renaissance style; in the process, he changed the artistic vision of another great High Renaissance master, Raphael, and altered the course of Western art. (Kirwin, W. Chandler. Michalangelo , Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
Raphael, also known as Raffaello Sanzio, or Santi, was yet another one of the greatest painters of the High Renaissance in Rome. Around 1508-09, Raphael, although only 25 years old, was called to Rome by Pope Julius II to direct the decoration of the state rooms, Stanze, in the Vatican Palace. Here the painter found an opportunity to apply his classical vocabulary on a grand scale. A major impetus toward both classicism and monumentality was the art of Michelangelo, who was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, also in the Vatican Palace, at the very time of Raphael’s arrival. Among the great religious works painted by Raphael on canvas or panel during his Roman years are the Alba Madonna, the Sistine Madonna, the Madonna of the Chair, and the Transfiguration. In 1515, Raphael painted ten large watercolor cartoons illustrating the Acts of the Apostles as designs for tapestries to
be hung in the Sistine Chapel. In 1514, Raphael succeeded Donato Bramante as
chief architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Raphael also became the first Superintendent of Antiquities, in 1515, in Rome. Raphael died in Rome at the age of 37 and was buried in the Pantheon amid universal mourning and acclaim. (Kirsch, Edith W. Raphael , Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
The Renaissance man, the man of universal genius, best exemplified by Leonardo da Vinci. (http://www.encyclopedia.com/) Leonardo is considered the paragon of Renaissance thinkers, engaged as he was in experiments of all kinds and having brought to his art a spirit of restless inquiry that sought to discover the laws governing diverse natural phenomena. What most impresses people today, perhaps, is the immense scope of his achievement. In the past, however, he was admired chiefly for his art and art theory. Leonardo’s equally impressive contribution to science, such as anatomy, biology, mathematics, and physics, have been preserved in a vast quantity of notes that became widely known only in the 20th century. Leonardo s also included the mysterious, evocative portrait Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. This figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion of her day and seated in a visionary, mountainous landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo’s sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame. The Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting in the world. (Brown, David. Da Vinci , Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)
The Renaissance lives on in established canons of taste and literature and in a distinctive Renaissance style in art, music, and architecture, the last often revived. Humanism allowed the artists to express themselves to a further extent, therefore creating art masterpieces that live on.
Encyclopedia.com. The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Third Edition 1994
Infoplease.com. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition Copyright 1993
Kohl, Benjamin G. Renaissance Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Brown, David. Da Vinci Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Buser, Thomas. Giotto di Bondone Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Hiesinger, Ulrich. Titian. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Kirsch, Edith W. Raphael Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Kirwin, W. Chandler. Michalangelo Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
Lewine, Milton E. Donatello Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Mac v. 9.0. CD-ROM 1997
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