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Italian Renaissance Station 1:
Renaissance Man & Woman
"Let the man we are seeking be very bold, stern, and
always among the first, where the enemy are to be
seen; and in every other place, gentle, modest,
reserved, above all things avoiding ostentation
[showiness] and that impudent [bold] self-praise by
which men ever excite hatred and disgust in all who
hear them...
I would have him more than passably accomplished
in letters, at least in those studies that are called the
humanities, and conversant not only with the Latin
language but with Greek, for the sake of the many
different things that have been admirably written
therein. Let him be well versed in the poets, and not
less in the orators and historians, and also proficient
in writing verse and prose.”
“Many faculties of the mind [intelligence] are as
necessary to woman as to man; likewise gentle birth,
to avoid affectation [showing off], to be naturally
graceful in all her doings, to be mannerly, clever,
prudent [sensible], not arrogant, not envious, not
slanderous [insulting], not vain, not quarrelsome
[argumentative], not silly…
…Beauty is more necessary to her than to the courtier,
for in truth that woman lacks much who lacks beauty.
…she will always show herself obedient, sweet and
affable [pleasant] to him, and as desirous of pleasing
him as of being loved by him.”
- Baldassare Castiglione, from The Courtier
Italian Renaissance Station 2:
Art in the Third Dimension
Classical artists had used
perspective, but medieval artists
abandoned the technique. In the
1400s, Italian artists rediscovered
Perspective is based on an
optical illusion. As parallel lines
stretch away from a viewer, they
seem to draw together, until they
meet at a spot on the horizon
called the vanishing point.
Pentecost by Titian
Captivity of Jeholachin
Mona Lisa by
Leonardo da Vinci
Italian Renaissance Station 3:
Peasant Wedding
by Bruegal
Madonna della Sedia by Raphael
David by Michelangelo
Italian Renaissance Station 4:
All of the story problems that follow are taken from historic documents of Renaissance Italy, and represent real-life amounts, currencies and
1. Alberto the Painter received 250 ducats (gold coins used as currency
in Venice) to create a painting for a wealthy family in Venice.
Because the family expects the painting to be delivered ready to
hang, Alberto will spend 20% of his payment to have a frame made
for the painting. After purchasing the frame, how many ducats
would Alberto have left?
2. Lorenzo was commissioned to create an altarpiece for a church in his
town. The altarpiece is a triptych; it has a large panel in the center
and two smaller panels on either side. The central panel measures 3
feet tall by 2.5 feet wide. The two smaller panels each measure 3 feet
tall by 1.5 feet wide. What is the total area of the altarpiece?
3. Cosimo has completed a large oil painting but before he delivers it to
the patron who ordered it, he must apply a varnish to the painting.
The formula he uses to make the varnish is 25% oil copal varnish,
25% poppy oil, and 50% spike oil. If he has 12 ounces of poppy oil,
how much spike oil will he need to complete the formula? How
much oil copal will he need?
4. Inventories of the wealthy patron family of de Medicis recorded art,
weapons, clothes, and antiques. Values of each item were recorded
in florins (currency of Renaissance Florence). According to the chart
[on back], which item was the most valuable? Which was the least
valuable? What is the average value of the items on the chart,
rounded to the nearest whole number?
5. Between the years 1434 and 1471, the Medici family spent 663,755
florins (coins used as currency in Florence) on buildings, charities
and taxes. If the Medici family spent 340,576 on buildings and
189,450 on charities, how much did they spend on taxes?
6. In 1470, the standard rate of payment for a painter of frescos in
Venice was 10 bolognini (currency used in Renaissance Italy) per
foot. Ten bolognini is equal to 1/10 of a ducat. How many ducats
would a painter earn for painting a fresco 10 feet long?
7. Antonia painted a portrait of a duke standing next to a bookcase. In
life, the duke stood six feet tall. When the painting was completed
the image of the duke measured 36 inches and the bookcase
measured 48 inches. What was the actual height of the bookcase?
8. Raphael bought a palazzo for 1365 florins. The palazzo has five
shops on the lower level. Raphael rented out each of the five shops
for 3 florins a month. How many years would it take for Raphael to
earn the purchase price of the palazzo?
Italian Renaissance Station 5:
Excerpt from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
There are four ways a new prince can acquire a principality: by one's own arms, by the arms of others, by evil means, and by civil
means. A principality that is won by a prince by his own arms is most secure. (1, 2)
"In the end, the arms of another will fall from your hand, will weigh you down, or restrain you." Chapter 13, pg. 52 (2)
"The two most essential foundations for any state, whether it be old or new, or both old and new, are sound laws and sound military
forces. Now, since the absence of sound laws assures the absence of sound military forces, while the presence of sound military forces
indicates the presence of sound laws as well, I shall forego a consideration of laws and discuss military forces instead." (3, 7, 10)
"A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war, its methods and its discipline, for
that is the only art expected of a ruler." (4, 11)
Machiavelli states that in an ideal world, it is virtuous for a prince to be good. But in reality, princes who distance themselves from
ethical concerns and do whatever it takes for the benefit of their states rule best. (5, 6)
"The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled
to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. I conclude that since men love as they themselves determine but
fear as their ruler determines, a wise prince must rely upon what he and not others can control." Chapter 17, pg. 61 (5, 6, )
When two neighbors are at war, a prince must never be neutral; he must take sides. The prince must have the wisdom to choose the
least risky venture and act on it courageously. (8)
Wisdom is also needed in picking and satisfying his closest advisors and avoiding flatterers. (9)
When a prince conquers a new territory that shares a common language and culture as his original domain, all he needs to do to
maintain control is to extinguish the former ruling line. (12, 13)
The prince must protect weaker neighbors and weaken powerful ones. He must not let a powerful force enter his territories, including
allies. Last, the wise prince must be willing to use force to remedy a situation before it becomes unfixable. It is almost always more
effective to confront problems early. A wise prince must not put off confrontations for another day. (14, 15)
Italian Renaissance Station 6:
Now notes of desperation have begun
to overtake my hearing; now I come
where mighty lamentation beats against me.
by that assailing wind, lament and moan;
so that I asked him: "Master, who are those
who suffer punishment in this dark air?"
I reached a place where every light is muted,
which bellows like the sea beneath a tempest,
when it is battered by opposing winds.
"The first of those about whose history
you want to know," my master then told me
"once ruled as empress over many nations.
The hellish hurricane, which never rests,
drives on the spirits with its violence:
wheeling and pounding, it harasses them.
Her vice of lust became so customary
that she made license licit in her laws
to free her from the scandal she had caused.
When they come up against the ruined slope,
then there are cries and wailing and lament,
and there they curse the force of the divine.
She is Semíramis, of whom we read
that she was Ninus' wife and his successor:
she held the land the Sultan now commands.
I learned that those who undergo this torment
are damned because they sinned within the flesh,
subjecting reason to the rule of lust.
That other spirit killed herself for love,
and she betrayed the ashes of Sychaeus;
the wanton Cleopatra follows next.
And as, in the cold season, starlings' wings
bear them along in broad and crowded ranks
so does that blast bear on the guilty spirits:
See Helen, for whose sake so many years
of evil had to pass; see great Achilles,
who finally met love-in his last battle.
now here, now there, now down, now up, it drives them.
There is no hope that ever comforts them-no hope for rest and none for lesser pain.
See Paris, Tristan . . ."-and he pointed out
and named to me more than a thousand shades
departed from our life because of love.
And just as cranes in flight will chant their lays,
arraying their long file across the air,
so did the shades I saw approaching, borne
No sooner had I heard my teacher name
the ancient ladies and the knights, than pity
seized me, and I was like a man astray.