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Early Renaissance

Centered in 15th Century Italy

The Early Renaissance Art - A Stan Klos Web Site

By Neal McLaughlin

Life in Europe during the last half of the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance was a difficult, life-altering experience for most of the European populous. While the nobles of the Middle Ages lived in the country offering protection for their king, the peasants, in return for protection from the nobles and a small plot of land, toiled from sunrise to sunset in the fields owned by the land gentries.

Other than the small parcel of land given to them by the nobles for whom they worked, there was little in the way of personal possessions and luxuries for the hard-working peasants. The small group of European middle-class people, whom by comparison to the peasants: were much better off, even led a lifestyle that was much easier than the rural aristocrats!

The individuals of the middle-class society were blessed with the freedom to choose and pursue any field of endeavor they desired. As the threat of attacks by barbarians began to diminish many people left the country to head into the cities and towns where they would be able to pursue a more lucrative avenue to success.

However, many of these highly-spirited and energetic Europeans would never have the opportunity to taste sweet success and all of her riches, as over half of the European population would be decimated by the ravaging "Black Death" that fell upon the heavily occupied cities and towns.

Those of wealth, who were fortunate enough to escape the clutches of the bubonic plague quickly packed bag and baggage and bee -lined for the surrounding the country sides where there were far less people and the risk of exposure to the plague was significantly decreased.

The destruction left in the wake of the plague, however, had so brutally destroyed the financial standing that Europe found itself in a debilitating economic depression. By the late 15th Century, as the report of plague infections began to decrease, the cities and towns once again sprang to life as people began to return from the safety of the countryside to once again follow their rainbows to the pot of riches.

Along with those who had desperately fled only months before, a new group of middle-class people also headed to the cities to explore their options and to find a path to wealth and security.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages and before the rise of the Modern World, the European art communities had experienced a "rebirth" of the Classical Greco-Roman principles and techniques. This Early Renaissance, mainly an Italian movement, was actually a bridge spanning the gap between the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance that became popular around fifteen hundred.

During the opening years of the 15th Century many of the European people had truly believed that they were living life in a new age. Considering the devastation left in the wake of the "Black Death" it is not at all surprising that these people felt as if they were actually experiencing the rebirth from the Dark Age.

In Italy, mainly Florence, the Renaissance was stimulated by the revival of the antiquated Classical Greek and Roman learning and values. Great works of literature, once thought lost to the West forever had been rediscovered and with this finding; a newer, humanistic outlook positioned man and human achievements at the center of all worldly issues.

Inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman classical ideas and principles, the Renaissance Artists devoted themselves to creating both paintings and sculptures that represented their personal observations of the natural world by gaining a more thorough understanding of physical anatomy and linear perspective.

The Renaissance Artists were convinced that through the study of the intellectual and artistic artifacts of the Greco-Roman period, they would be able to achieve artistic greatness, a higher degree of wisdom and total enlightenment. By gaining a better understanding of the use of mathematical principles, these artists held the conviction that they would be able to illustrate the New World in a more accurate and precise detail.

One major development born out of this rediscovery pertained to how the artist portrayed their subject matter. Prior to the study of the Greco-Roman principles, most artists depicted their subject matter as they had seen them through their own eyes. During the Renaissance, however, these humanists focused on the human perspective where the viewer assumed an active role; as they became the points of reference.

This change in technique created a more realistic illusion of space as well as creating an over-all feeling of depth through the use of one-point perspective. These newly founded studied and practiced principles radically changed the art of painting.

By the early 1500's Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) and Titian (1485-1576) along with many of their peers had been instrumental in establishing Florence as the Capital of Renaissance Art.

The Renaissance artists, armed with their newfound techniques utilized harmonious proportions, realistic expressions and rational postures in their subject matter. Spiritual paintings began to reflect the borrowed themes, which included both Roman history and Mythology and their Christian oriented themes took on a more classical, humanized premise.

While painters Masaccio (1401-1428) and Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) enlighten the world with their renderings, Italian writers Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) and Giovanni Boccacio (1313-1375), French author Francois Rabelais (1490-1553) and William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in England produced literary works that emphasized the particulars of the human character.

Architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) resurrected the Classical Architecture and employed his engineering mastermind to design the mammoth dome manufactured for the Cathedral of Florence in addition to inventing the one-point perspective; a technique where all of the lines converge to a single point in the distance. (AKA the vanishing point).

Donatello (1386-1466), who often traveled with Brunelleschi, had undertaken the challenge of carving some of the first large-scale, freestanding statues; the first since those that had been created by the earlier, Classical Greco-Roman movement.

As we have seen, the Early Renaissance period was a highly charged, creative time when Italian artisans had successfully revived the antiquated, Classical Greek-Roman styles and principles. Many other artists had taken this opportunity to break away from the rigid restrictions imposed by the Byzantine Movement.

During this same time of revival and development, Germany was experiencing the advancement of the Gothic Art movement while the artists of the Netherlands were engaged in the Northern Renaissance.

Art movements are very similar to the children that we raise. Following the birth, or in this case a rebirth, we proud parents nurture our babies with love and unconditional support. We instill positive values and ethics, eliminate ideas and principles that may be outdated or inappropriate for our cause.

We guide our children into new, constructive directions and give them a little nudge every now and again in order for our creations to go as far as possible. Then at just the right time we let loose of our child's hand and watch with pride as they soar onto better worlds.

By the year 1500, the Early Renaissance was at full growth. Every artisan who had become involved in the rearing of the Early Renaissance had made many critical sacrifices while giving all that they had until there was nothing else to be received by the movement. The Early Renaissance had reached maturity and in doing so was responsible for the birth of a newer movement affectionately named the High Renaissance.

Research Links


ART HISTORY RESOURCES: Part 8 15th-Century Renaissance Art

... Greece; Ancient Rome; Art in Early Europe; Art of the Middle Ages; 15th-CENTURY RENAISSANCE ART; 16th-Century Renaissance Art; Baroque Art; ...

The Early Renaissance: Artists and their Works - [ Translate this page ]

... there was a parallel advancement of Gothic Art centered in Germany and the Netherlands, known as the Northern Renaissance. The Early Renaissance was succeeded ...

Early Renaissance

Early Renaissance Art. links to web sites Florence Art Guide Florence - Duomo - The Cathedral Uffizi Gallery, Florence Giotto Scrovegni ...

NGA - Italian Painting 15th century

... All over Europe, the late middle ages favored a ... 15th-Century Florence Venetian Painting in the Early Renaissance: ... 2004 National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Art History 101 - Early Renaissance Art

... Art History 101 - Early Renaissance Art. Your Guide, Shelley Esaak, From Shelley Esaak, Your Guide to Art History. FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now! ...

ArtLex on the Earlier Renaissance Art

... Horse, profile view, 1435-1445, Venetian Renaissance, pen, brown ... x 31.4 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY ... Last Communion of Saint Jerome, early 1490s, tempera

WebMuseum: La Renaissance: Italy

... retrace the creative process rather than to merely imitate the final achievements of antiquity, Early Renaissance artists sought to create art forms consistent ...

Early Renaissance - Art History of Early Renaissance

... Early Renaissance, mostly in Italy, bridges the art period during the fifteenth century, between the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance in Italy. ...

E-Ren: Pictures

... Florence. The Signory (77k) Photograph. Florence. Illustration of death(128k) From a Book of Hours, early 15th century. Trial of St. ...

Mark Harden's Artchive: "Renaissance"

... and reached its culmination in the early 16th century ... concept enshrined in the word 'Renaissance' is actually ... discredited, argument that the Middle Ages was a ...

Mythology and ideology in Italian Renaissance art

... Botticelli's work presages the way that Renaissance art in Italy was to ... The Primavera, however, dates from the early Renaissance, and cleverly reduces one of ...

Yahoo! Directory: Art History > Renaissance

... Artcyclopedia: The Early Renaissance - offers an overview of the Italian 15th century art movement and a chronological listing of associated artists. ...

ARHA221 - Early Renaissance Art in Italy

... Course Search by CID ] Academic Year 2004/2005. Early Renaissance Art in Italy ARHA 221 FA. Crosslistings: MDST 222. This course will ...

Renaissance Art - Artists, Artworks and Biographies

... They focused on the laws of proportion for architecture, the human body, and space. The term Early Renaissance encompasses most 15th century art. ...

Betty Hennessey, Rita Perry - Italian Renaissance Art: An ...

... After reviewing their art and/or biographies, write a short paragraph describing the ... Much of the painting of the early renaissance was done in fresco or egg ...

Art History 111 Imagebase

... Early Renaissance Art in Europe. To see a specific image, click on the title: Map of 15th Century Renaissance Europe Jan and Hubert van Eyck. Ghent Alterpiece. ...



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