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The Character of the Renaissance
The Early Renaissance
• When was the Renaissance?
– Jules Michelet
– Jakob Burkhardt
– Charles Homer Haskins
• Florentine Renaissance characteristics
The resurgence of classical
culture and the rise of a new
Florence, Italy
Where the Renaissance begins…
Artist as individual seeking fame
New artistic realism
New growth in economics/trade
Florentine banking and commerce
Humanism as outgrowth of Classical learning
Advancement of self and society through intellectual efforts
The First Phase:
Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi
• Florentine “representative” government
– Arti, senior guilds
• Wool trade
• Banking, banking families
– Stable monetary system
• Revolutionary Florentine art
– Renaissance
The First Phase:
Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi
• Characteristics of artistic change
• Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1385-1427)
– Adoration of the Magi (1423)
– Conservative International Gothic style
• Tommaso Guidi, aka Masaccio (1401-1428)
– The Holy Trinity (c. 1428)
– Clarity of line, perspective, realism,
Medieval Art
in the
Note the bright
colors, crowded
composition, and
rounded figures
No single-point
a concern with, and technical
ability to handle, space and volume
in a believable way
studious approach to model art
from that of ancient Rome
departure from more ethereal
mode of medieval otherworldliness
to a greater concern for human
This is achieved through:
1. clarity of line
2. mathematically precise perspective
3. close observation of real people
4. concern for psychological states
5. uncluttered arrangements—artist
doesn’t fill up all available space
The First Phase:
Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi
• Masaccio
– Realistic depiction of human beings
• The Tribute Money (c. 1427)
– Profound sense of emotion
• Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden (c.
– “…brought into existence the modern style”
The First Phase:
Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi
• Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455)
– Florence Baptistery, North Door
– Sentiment, mathematical perspective
– East Doors = “Gates of Paradise”
• Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1466)
– Renaissance architecture
– Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore
– Gothic + Classical Roman influences
The First Phase:
Masaccio, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi
• Foundling Hospital, Pazzi Chapel
– Classical order
– Intricate mathematical proportions
– Serenity
• Florentine Renaissance style
– Space, ancient models, human realism
– Reaffirmation of Classical ideals
The pre-Renaissance Gothic
style (Notre Dame Cathedral)
Florence Cathedral
combines Gothic buttressing with Roman dome
Brunelleschi’s austere
Foundling Hospital
Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel; note the
similarities to Rome’s domed pantheon
Brunelleschi’s Renaissance
Pazzi Chapel
Ancient Rome’s Pantheon
The Medici Era
• Medici rule of Florence: 1434-1492
• Immense banking fortune
– Branch banks throughout Western Europe
• Extensive geographic, sociological
– Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride (1434)
The Medici Era:
Cosimo de’ Medici (1434-1464)
• Ancient manuscripts
• Greek language, philosophy
• Platonic Academy
– Search for truth and beauty
• Marsilio Ficino
– Platonic Love, Christian Platonism
• Pater Patriae
– Patron of the arts
The Medici Era:
Cosimo de’ Medici (1434-1464)
• Donatello (1386-1466)
– Saint George, David, Mary Magdalene
• Michelozzo (1396-1472)
– Convent of San Marco
• Fra Angelico (1387-1455)
– Annunciation fresco
• Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)
– Medici Palace paintings
The Medici Era:
The Medici Era:
Piero de’ Medici
Lorenzo il Magnifico
• Ruled Florence from 1464-1469
• Continued Cosimo’s patronages
– Religious and civil art and architecture
• Medici and the theme of the Magi
– Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510)
– Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1495)
• Accomplished vernacular poet
• Ficino, Botticelli, Michelangelo
• Laurentian patronage of learning
– University of Pisa
– The Stadium of Florence
– Greek as export from Florence
The Medici Era:
Lorenzo il Magnifico
• Botticelli (1444-1510)
– La Primavera (Springtime), The Birth of Venus
– Platonic idealism, Christian mysticism
• Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
– Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Madonna of the
– Notebooks
– Mathematics, natural world and humanity, love for
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus; modeled on Greek and Roman statues
Leonardo da Vinci
The first “Renaissance Man”
1. He was a master
2. He was a keen
scientist, mastering
fields of geology,
botany, and anatomy
3. He was a master
engineer, designing
airplanes and
4. He was a master
Leonardo’s Notebooks
From left to right:
An underwater breathing
machine; detailed
studies of human
anatomy; an artificial
wing for human flight
(strap it on and jump off
a cliff! [don’t try this at
Leonardo’s “The Last Supper”
Note the mathematical precision
The Medici Era:
Lorenzo il Magnifico
• Michelangelo Buonarroti (1476-1564)
– Cameo carving: Madonna of the Stairs
– Pietá
• Michelangelo’s David
– Statement of idealized beauty
– Palazzo Vecchio: symbol of civic power
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