The Catholic Church commissioned most artwork during the Middle Ages, and while it continued to do so during the Renaissance, wealthy individuals also became important patrons, according to Cox. The most famous patrons were the Medici family in Florence, who supported the arts for much of the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Florence was the initial epicenter of Renaissance art but by the end of the 15 th century, Rome had overtaken it.
Pope Leo X a Medici ambitiously filled the city with religious buildings and art. This period, from the s to the s, is known as the High Renaissance. As with art, musical innovations in the Renaissance were partly made possible because patronage expanded beyond the Catholic Church.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art , new technologies resulted in the invention of several new instruments, including the harpsichord and violin family. The printing press meant that sheet music could be more widely disseminated. Renaissance music was characterized by its humanist traits.
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Composers read classical treatises on music and aimed to create music that would touch listeners emotionally. They began to incorporate lyrics more dramatically into compositions and considered music and poetry to be closely related, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Renaissance literature, too, was characterized by humanist themes and a return to classical ideals of tragedy and comedy, according to the Brooklyn College English Department.
Shakespeare's works, especially "Hamlet," are good examples of this. Themes like human agency, life's non-religious meanings and the true nature of man are embraced, and Hamlet is an educated Renaissance man. The most prevalent societal change during the Renaissance was the fall of feudalism and the rise of a capitalist market economy, said Abernethy. Increased trade and the labor shortage caused by the Black Death gave rise to something of a middle class.
Workers could demand wages and good living conditions, and so serfdom ended. There were no more knights in service to the king and peasants in service to the lord of the manor," said Abernethy. Having money became more important than your allegiances. Due to a number of factors — including the Black Death, the rise in trade, the development of a middle class and the papacy's temporary move from Rome to Avignon — the Catholic Church's influence was waning as the 15 th century began.
The re-emergence of classical texts and the rise in Renaissance humanism changed society's approach to religion and the authority of the papacy, said Abernethy. Thirsty to learn more about the world and eager to improve trade routes, explorers sailed off to chart new lands. Columbus "discovered" the New World in and Ferdinand Magellan became the first person to successfully circumnavigate the globe in the early s. As scholars studied classical texts, they "resurrected the Ancient Greek belief that creation was constructed around perfect laws and reasoning," Abernethy said.
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Leonardo also explored sculpture, notably designing the world's largest bronze equestrian statue. Commissioned by the Duke of Milan in to honor his father, the project was never completed, as the artist's foot tall clay model was destroyed by the French army invasion of Milan in Several versions of the horse, based upon the artist's drawings, have been completed in modern times.
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The ideals and humanism that informed the High Renaissance continued to inspire the world beyond Italy, albeit with notable stylistic and artistic variation. Meanwhile, Correggio's quadratura works influenced the artists Carlo Cignani, Gaurdenzio Ferrari, Il Pordenone, and had a notable impact on Baroque and Rococo treatments of domes and ceilings.
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Leonardo's death in , followed by Raphael's death when he was only 37 years old the following year, marked a lessened vibrancy of the Italian High Renaissance. The brutal and terrifying event reduced the population of Rome from 55, to 10,, and left the city in a state of collapse and financial ruin. The ideals of the High Renaissance no longer seemed tenable to many. Michelangelo's Last Judgment a fresco in the Sistine Chapel expressed the darker emotional tenor of the following decades.
In sculpture he turned to pietas and depictions of captive slaves such as his The Atlas Slave His figurative treatment, particularly of the male nude, influenced countless artists.
Later artists of the Baroque period, the Neoclassicists, and the avant-garde movements of the 20 th century were also widely influenced by the works of the Renaissance. For instance, Pablo Picasso drew upon Raphael in his Guernica , referencing The Fire in the Borgo , which depicted a woman handing her baby to those below as she leaned out of the burning building. The works created by the artists of the Italian High Renaissance remain the most recognizable and popular works of art history.
Furthermore, the ideas of the High Renaissance - the artist as genius, the foundational nature of classical art, the individual as center of the universe, the value of science and exploration, the emphasis on Humanism - have all deeply informed the social and cultural values of the world ever since. Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle. Updated and modified regularly. By using our site, you agree to our terms , and usage of cookies.
GOT IT! The Art Story. High Renaissance - History and Concepts. Started: s Ended: Da Vinci was the eponymous "Renaissance Man," proficient not only in art, but also in mathematics, science, and technology. Leonardo da Vinci. Last Supper showed the Early Renaissance use of linear perspective to create a trompe l'oeil effect, but his figures, while naturalistic, seem static and isolated in comparison to the dramatic movement of Leonardo's Last Supper Andrea del Castagno's Last Supper showed the Early Renaissance use of linear perspective to create a trompe l'oeil effect, but his figures, while naturalistic, seem static and isolated in comparison to the dramatic movement of Leonardo's Last Supper Portrait of Leonardo after shows the artist later in life.
Francesco Melzi's Portrait of Leonardo after shows the artist later in life. David became a civic symbol, embodying the ideals of Florence. Michelangelo's David became a civic symbol, embodying the ideals of Florence. Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo was made by his student, Aristotele de Sangallo. The original drawing is lost. This copy of the Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo was made by his student, Aristotele de Sangallo.
Self-Portrait bronze plaque c. An early example of the Renaissance man, as he was a noted mathematician, architect, painter, poet, and classicist, Leon Battista Alberti is depicted here in his Self-Portrait bronze plaque c. Portrait of Girolamo Savonarola c.
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Fra Bartolomeo's Portrait of Girolamo Savonarola c. Raphael's mastery of sfumato can be seen particularly in his treatment of the Virgin's face in his Madonna with the Christ Child and Saint John the Baptist Vision of St. This image depicts Correggio's quadratura Vision of St. This photograph shows the view toward the illusionary choir area of Santa Maria presso San Satiro created by Bramante.
Giuseppe Vasi's depiction of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome designed by Antonio de Sangallo the Younger employing a mathematically strict tripartite division. The building is in use to this day. The American Horse , shown in Meijer Gardens, Michigan, is based upon Leonardo's drawings for his proposed sculpture. Virgin of the Rocks c. This iconic work is one of the world's most recognizable paintings. It depicts Christ, his form creating a triangular hub in the center, from which flank his disciples seated beside him at the Last Supper on the eve of his most famous betrayal by Judas.
The group sits behind a long rectangular table, which forms a boundary between the viewer and the occupants of this most sacred moment.
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The walls on either side create diagonals that narrow toward three open windows in the background behind Christ, further illuminating his central importance to the scene, and the powerful dramatic results obtained from the use of linear perspective. In this work, Leonardo deviated from the tradition of depicting Judas separate from the group, and instead conveyed his betrayal by showing him stiffly hidden in shadow.
Previous artists had portrayed this instance of Judas being named as the traitor, but Leonardo chose to paint, for the first time, the moment just before, when Christ said, "Verily I say unto you that one of you will betray me.
Leonardo wanted to portray the Apostles in motion, as each gesture conveyed the movement of the soul.