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 Artist: Donatello
“St. George”
The St. George is
widely regarded as a
tribute to the classical
heroes of antiquity.
His features are strong
and masculine, yet
delicate and youthful,
as Florentines of the
period liked to imagine
the fabled heroes of
the past. In the 1420s Donatello's
search for a naturalistic
rendering was
intensified, and
unrealistic elements
have been discarded.
This process reached its
highest point in the
Prophet Jeremiah and
the Prophet Habakkuk the so-called Zuccone
(pumpkin-head) “Zuccone”
The setting is elaborately classical
- though the composition recalls
iconographical precedents of
Medieval Times. T
“The Annunciation”
by Donatello
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
“The Last Supper”
Christ's head is at the center of the
composition, framed by a halo-like
architectural opening. His head is
also the vanishing point toward which
all lines of the perspectival projection
of the architectural setting converge. “Female Head”
Gouache on wood Gouache—From the Italian “guazzo”, meaning “water paint”, its use appears to go back some 800 years, used originally to illuminate manuscripts. Early European painters used it as an outdoor sketching medium An aura of mystery surrounds this
painting, which is veiled in a soft
light, creating an atmosphere of
enchantment. There are no hard
lines or contours here (a technique
of painting known as sfumato—fumo
in Italian means "smoke"), only
seamless transitions between light
and dark. Perhaps the most striking
feature of the painting is the sitter's
ambiguous half smile. Leonardo
explores the possibilities of oil paint
in the soft folds of the drapery,
texture of skin, and contrasting light
and dark (chiaroscuro). “Mona Lisa”
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Artist: Michelangelo
The Sistine Chapel
Pope Sixtus IV
commissioned celebrated
painters, including
Botticelli and Rosselli, to
decorate the chapel. At
this point, the Sistine
Chapel’s ceiling was
painted like a simple blue
sky with stars.
In 1503, a new pope,
Julius II, decided to
change some of the
Sistine Chapel's
decoration. He
commanded artist
Michelangelo to do it.
Michelangelo balked,
because he considered
himself a sculptor, not a
painter, and he was hard
at work sculpting the
king’s tomb. But Pope
Julius insisted, and
Michelangelo began
work on his famous
frescoed ceiling in 1508.
He worked for four
years. It was so
physically taxing that it
permanently damaged his
eyesight. Artist: Michelangelo
“Pieta”
This was a special work of art even in the
Renaissance because at the time, multifigured sculptures were rare. These two
figures are carved so as to appear in a
unified composition which forms the shape
of a pyramid, something that other
Renaissance artists (e.g. Leonardo) also
favored. “Moses”
The Moses by Michelangelo can be dated from 1513-1515
and was to be part of the tomb of Pope Julius II. The
posture is that of a prophet, posed on a marble chair,
between two decorated marble columns. His long beard
descends to his lap and is set aside by his right hand,
which also leans on the plates. This posture of the seated
prophet also appears in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
frescoes from a year earlier. In fact here we have a rare
example of Michelangelo as the painter of the Sistine
Chapel influencing Michelangelo the sculptor!
Artist: Raphael
“The School of Athens”
The School of Athens represents all the greatest mathematicians, philosophers and scientists from classical antiquity gathered
together sharing their ideas and learning from each other. These figures all lived at different times, but here they are gathered
together under one roof.
The two thinkers in the very center, Aristotle (on the right) and Plato (on the left, pointing up) have been enormously important to
Western thinking generally, and in different ways, their different philosophies were incoporated into Christianity. Plato holds his
book called The Timaeus. Artist: Raphael
“Sistine Madona”
“The Disputation of the Eucharist”
Five hundred years ago Raphael, the great
master painter of the Renaissance, was
commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the
Sistine Madonna. Today, it is one of the most
famous works of art in the world.
Note the two cherubs at the bottom, who
are often reproduced without the rest of the
painting! In the painting, Raphael has created a scene
spanning both heaven and earth. Above, Christ is
surrounded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the
Baptist and various biblical figures such as Adam,
Moses and Jacob. God the Father sits above Jesus,
depicted reigning over the golden light of heaven, and
below Christ's feet is the dove of the Holy Spirit.
Below, on the altar sits the monstrance.