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Early Renaissance in Italy
Rebirth of Classical Ideals,
Southern Style
15th century Italy was not a
country, but a group of individual
and sometime warring city-states
such as Florence, Milan, Padua,
etc. Merchant families- such as
the Medici- rose to power.
Early Renaissance Italy….
• Humanism philosophy dominates literature, arts,
science, and even religion
• Study things as they really are, age of discovery
(remember Columbus was going to North America
during this time frame)
• Great influence of Van Eyck and
Flemish/Northern Renaissance
• However added classical studies of antiquity from
Greece/Roman traditions
Artistic Innovations
• Like the North, Italian artists showed realistic
human forms, but with greater concern to anatomy
and classical influences
• Brunelleschi - artist/architect developed the use of
perspective to an astonishing degree
• Return of classical large scale sculptures, nudes,
and many secular art works
• Patrons were powerful families who ruled the city
states, such as the Medici
• Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance
What about Perspective????
• Atmospheric and intuitive perspective already in place
from Netherlands/Northern Renaissance
• Italian Renaissance artists went a step further, studying it
Uccello shows a battle for one of the city states here in this tempera painting, of 1438.
He also shows the use of pserpsecitve as “discovered” or developed by Brunelleschi.
Itlaian Renaissance went a step fruther than their Flemish colleagues in perspective…
Perugino, The Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter, Fresco, 1481, right wall of the Sistine
Chapel, Rome. Shows linear perspective and low horizon line, orthogonals to v. point
Brunelleschi’s Dome (Florence
Cathedral), 1417-36; 1471, etc.
Brunelleschi was favored by the
Medici and jailed when Cosimo
was jailed.
Artist who perfected system of
mathematical perspective
Daring innovator, engineer.
Designed dome WITHOUT center
supports; architectural feat for that
time. Dome supported on lantern.
Applications-of-linear-perspectivein-the-renaissance go to 18:30
Church of San Lorenzo (nave), 1430s-70, Brunelleschi - did 1st architectural
perspective drawing using his theory of mathemetical perspective for patrons
Brunelleschi designed & built the Foundling Hospital (orphanage) in 1419. The
medallions are still loved today …
Patron: Silk & Goldsmith’s Guild of Florence as a public service
Example of Renaissance style architecture-Corinthian style column with high light
arches.. Proportions in line with Renaissance art/science of proportions
Detail of Terra
Andrea della
Family secret
blue and white
glazing babies show
human side of
Guild public
Alberti’s Della Pittura &
• Alberti wrote a treatise (3 books) on
perspective and art.
• Half of one book dealt with geometry and
mathematical perspective as pioneered by
Brunelleschi- making a painting as a “view
through a window” (p 622 in text)
• The other books dealt with composition,
theme, philsophy, and technique
Church of Sant’Andrea,
Mantua, 1470
Leon Battista Alberti
Who also wrote the
treatise on perspective,
art, etc.
Trinity with the Virgin, St. John the
Evangelist, and Donors
Masacccio, 1425
Masterpiece of perspective - 1st true
painting with linear perspective
Illusino of reality
You can see the grids and perspective lines
where he laid strings in the plaster
Expulsion from Paradise, fresco, (adam and
Eve), 1427, Masaccio
From the Brancacci Chapel
Study of anatomy & underlying muscle and
bone structure, combined with expressivism
and emotions of Adam & Even upon being
cast out of Eden
More psychological than Flemish painters
Inspired by ancient Roman sculpture
QuickTime™ and a
are needed to see this picture.
Masaccio, 1427
Adam, Eve
from Ghent
Van Eyck,
View of Frescoes by Masaccio & Masolino & Lippi (collaboration in Brancacci
Chapel in Florence). Unfortunately Masaccio died in 1428 or 1429 before
completing his part of the fresco.
Tribute Money, Masaccio, 1427, fresco, Brancacci chapel. flashcard
Most innovative of early early Italian Renaissance painters..3 scenes w/in one setting,
Peter catches a fish with a gold coin in its mouth to pay Caesar’s taxes on the right,
central figures around Jesus where Jesus tells them to Render unto Caesar that which is
Caesar’s (Florentines being taxed for military campaign at the time of this painting).
Integrates architecture, figures, and landscapes realistically w/perspective
Green robe shaded w/red, strong modeling of figures, consistent light source..this fresco
Annunciation, Fra Angeliao, fresco, 1438-45. Painted for a monastery in
Florence. Probably commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici. Linear perspective,
natural light. Part of a series painted in the monastery to help guide the monks’
prayers. Columns here show new buliding technique used by Brunelleschi.
The Last Supper, Andrea del Castagno, 1447. Fresco.
Art & Humanism: Human Form
• Artists in Italy became interested in
portraying the human form as accurately as
• Scientists such as Galileo (imprisoned for
life by the Spanish Inquisition) promoted
the study of nature and reality in physics,
mathematics, and biology
Battle of the Nudes, Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Engraving, 1465 - study of anatomy
Hercules & Antaeus, bronze
figurine, 18” tall, del Pollaiuolo, c.
1475 (early Renaissance)
Influence of classical Greek &
Roman sculpture
Study of Anatomy
Patrons: smaller statues that could
be enjoyed or placed in the homes
of middle class families
Del Pollaiulo’s patron was the
Medici family; he was trained as a
painter, sculptor, and goldsmith
Gates of Paradise, (east doors),
Baptistry of San Giovanni,
Florence, Ghiberti 1425-52,
bronze, 15’ high (4.5 meters)
“I strove to imitate nature as clearly as I could,
and with all he perspective I could produce, to
have excellent compositions with many figures.”
Competition held in 1401 to
commission this prestigious set
of doors… Brunelleschi &
Ghiberti were top competitors
Patron: Wool Mfgrs. Guild
Name coined later by
1 point perspective, 10 old
testament scenes
Technological advance from
earlier doors-revived LOST WAX
method of relief sculpture
Jacob & Esau,
panel from the
Gates of
Ghiberti 1435
Intuitive and
high and low
relief figures
give amazing
sense of depth
Jacob & Esau
story from
Genesis in
Jews and Jacob
Flashcard part 2
Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, 1425
Pisano’s John the Baptist doors,
Donatello - New
• Excelled in 3 areas:
– Human emotions & expressions
– Vision & insight in solving formal
– Technical skill in various sculpture
• 1st life-size male nude since antiquity
• 1st life-size equestrian statue since
• Used contrapossto, iconography, G-R
David, Donatello, Bronze, 5’2”, 1446-60, early
Italian Renaissance
1st life-size male nude statue since antituity
David shown standing on the head of Goliath
Exagerrated contrapossto position
Hat of a fashionable Renaissance young man;
David shown as adolescent
Originally stood in courtyard of Medici palaceMedici were patrons of Donatello
Inscription suggests iconography symbolizing the
victory of Florence over Milan in 1428
“The victor is whoever defends the fatherland. Alpowerful God crushes the angry enemy. Behold, a
boy overcomes the great tyrant. Conquer, O
Gattamelata (Equestrian Monument
of Erasmo da Narni), Donatello,
Bronze, about 12 feet high, 1443
1st life size bronze equestrian
statue since antiquity
Shows General of Venetian army
Self-made man of the
Renaissance, powerful condottieri
Sources: Marcus Aurelius &
another ancient Roman equestrian
Donatello stayed in Padua
(northern Italy) for years and
founded a school of sculpture.
Mary Magdalen, Donatello, wood, 6’ tall, 1450s
Extremely expressive statue of the saint, who
became a hermit after Jesus’ death.
Shows her emaciated and aged, clothed in her
own hair, after years of wandering in the
Donatello rejected classical form in this figure.
Vision of the hereafter.
Andrea del Verrochio
followed with this statue
in the late 15th century.
Bartolomeo Colleoni,
General of Venice is
portrayed here.
Vitality and energy; image
of will and domination in
this portrait of a
Artistic innovations spread from
Florence throughout Italy
• Artists got ideas, inspiration, & training from
Florence artists Brunelleschi, Donatello, and
Masaccio and these ideas spread thru Italy
• Venice & Urbino also became artistic centers in
last half of 15th century
• Della Francesca (Urbino), Mantegna (Mantua),
and the Bellini brothers (Venice) are 4 artists from
these areas where Florentine art spread.
Recognition & Proving of the True Cross, Piero della Francesca painted this fresco
in the 1450s. Brought from Florence to Urbino by powerful patron Federico da
Montefeltro. Used linear perspective & simplified geometric forms. Façade in
background mimics Alberti’s. Della Francesca wrote about geometry and art in a
book. Part of a cycle of frescoes in this church about the true cross of Jesus.
Flemish influence
seen in oil paint &
luminous colors;
also landscape
Strict profile
tradition makes
subjects seem
distant from
Painting on reverse
side shows
humanistic interests
of Montefeltro’s
court and is full of
Battista Sforza & Federico da Montefeltro, oil on wood, 1474. Piero della
Francesca painted this dual portrait of the Duke of Urbino & his wife
Battista. flashcard
Reverse side of dual
portrait by della
Triumph of Federico
and Battista
Inscriptions praise Battista’s restraint and virtues, and
Federico’s moderation and fame.
Duke is crowned by
a winged Goddess
(either Victory or
Fortune); also shown
are Justice,
Prudence, Fortitude,
and Temperance.
Battista’s cart is
pulled by a Cherub
and driving a team of
unicorns.. Faith &
Charity hold a
pelican, symbol of
maternal sacrifices.
Camera Picta (Newlywed
Ceiling), Andrea Mantegna,
fresco, 1465-74, Mantua.
Mantegna studied in Padua
with influence of Donatello.
Patron was the Gonzaga
family, painted this for their
palace ceiling.
False oculus, trompe l’oeil
Di sotto in su… Shows
radical perspective views
and foreshortening.
Interested in classical
literature & archaeology.
In Venice, the Bellini brothers created many OIL paintings inspired by the Flemish
Procession of the Relic of the True Cross before the Church of St. Mark, Gentile Bellini,
oil on canvas, 1496, Galleria dell’ Accademia, Venice. Narrative of annual festival
celebrating a 1444 miracle recovery of a dying child. Father in red robe kneeling is
praying for his child’s recovery. perspective
Virgin & Child Enthroned, 1478,
Giovanni Bellini, Hospital of San
Giobbe, Venice
Sacra conversacione (know this term):
sacred conversation between Mary,
saints, angels, and donors as shown in
this type of piece. In real life of course
they are not conversing (from different
times and places) but joined in mystical
communion outside of time.
Back in Florence late 15th century…
Love of material opulence and interest in nature
Poetic, mystical spirit & religious fervor.
Philosophical circles around the Medici.
Monk Savoronala preached against religious
images and destroyed many paintings.
• Ghirlandio & Botticelli 2 painters from this time
• Botticelli studied under Verrochio, revived the
female nude, and painted in a linear style with
floating figures. Did 3/4 profile portraits (like Van
Primavera, Sandro Botticelli, 1482, Florence. Tempera on wood. Allegory combining
Christianity with classical stories, Venus of Earth, Venus of Heaven. Orange trees mean
fertility. Revived female nude in art. Figures seem to float. Secular painting of religious
subject made for Lorenzo Medici’s wedding. Inspired by Flemish tapestry. flashcard
Birth of Venus, Botticelli, tempera, 1484. Flashcard. Based on modest Venus classic
statue, philosophy of beauty=birth of beauty.
Mystic Nativity, Botticelli, 1500.
Painted to show the end of the
world .. At time many though
world was going to end in 1500.
Cave stable like Byzantine
church, timber shed more
Philosophers are struggling with
angels at the bottom… showing
the struggle between science
and faith at the time??
Inscription references Book of
Revelations in Bible.
Painted frescos in Sassetti
chapel in Florence
Showed poetic, mystical
Religious fervor at end of
15th century
Ghirlandaio painted
this after viewing van
der Goes’ altarpiece,
which came to
Florence from Bruges
in 1483.
He even copies some
of Hugo’s flowers, the
iris, and has Jesus on
the ground. However,
he puts in classical
Roman pilasters
instead of a medieval
setting. Linear &
aerial perspective.
Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds, Sassetti Chapel
Altarpiece, Florence, Ghirlandaio, 1485. flashcard
Hugo van der Goes’ Portinari Altarpiece
Ghirlandaio’s Nativity