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The Renaissance in Italy
The Italian City-states
Italy conduit for travel and commerce
between Europe and East
Cities independent from kings and popes
Merchant princes
Medici family – powerful banking family
Charitable to arts
Civic humanism
Renaissance Humanism
Humans God greatest creation
Humanist: student of classical ideas
Glorified beauty and order in nature
Pico’s Oration: man had choice of
goodness or evil in himself
Great reformers, artists, writers, inventors
Lorenzo “The Magnificent”
1462-92, patron of the arts
Praised Plato, civic leader, poet
Wrote songs in Italian
Gave money and support to artists in
Had many libraries, museums, and
palaces built for Florence
Ghiberti’s Baptistery Doors
Competition for Baptistery Doors – 1401
Ghiberti and Bunelleschi competed for the
commission with the subject of “Abraham and
Ghiberti won
They took 48 years!
Michelangelo called them the “Gates of
The Creation of Adam and Eve (fig.13.8) –
Brunelleschi’s Domes
Florence’s greatest Renaissance architect
Studied Rome’s ancient buildings
Domed roof over Florence Cathedral –
unique two-layer construction
Simplicity and reason
Pazzi Chapel – Roman architecture
Attempt by Pazzi on Lorenzo’s life in
Florentine Painting: A Refined
Life-like figures, volume and perspective
Revival of fresco technique
Masaccio – depth through modeling, linear
perspective, and atmospheric effects
The Tribute Money (fig. 13.12) –
Sandro Botticelli
Primavera (fig. 13.17) – Neoplatonic ideas
Birth of Venus (fig. 13.18) – her birth
equivalent to the birth of the human soul,
as yet uncorrupted
Later threw his Classically-themed
paintings on Savanorola’s “Bonfire of the
Vanities” and returned to Christian
Italian Renaissance Music
The Mass
1. Sacred motets in Latin
2. Secular song inserted in masses
Guillaume Dufay – fuses polyphony with
new form, “word painting”
Polyphonic secular songs
1. Frottola
2. Madrigal
Brought back the free-standing nude with
David (fig. 13.10)
Used contrapposto
Biblical description of David is that he is
Tuscan hat
Pagan (Classical) rather than Christian
Political overtones because David was the
symbol of Florence
Michelangelo in Florence
By age 22 already rival to Donatello
In Rome: Pietá (fig. 13.26)
Florence’s David (fig. 13.27): Classical
values with a biblical theme
Captured his spirit/hero in stone
The Decline of Florence
Appealed to poor and working people
Condemned Church’s corruption and
excesses of wealth
“Bonfire of the Vanities”
Defeated and burned at the stake
Message affected artists
Machiavelli’s The Prince
Florentine diplomat – described realities of
political philosophy and power
The Prince – a masterpiece of political
Describes the ideal prince or ruler: only
strong, ruthless leaders keep country safe
from foreign domination
Machiavellian ideal – the end justifies the
The Genius of Leonardo
Architect, engineer, mathematician, and
musician as well as artist – true “Renaissance
Finished very few projects
Conceived airplane, helicopter, parachute,
machine gun, and other inventions hundreds of
years before they were ever built
Developed artistic techniques of chiaroscuro and
Leonardo as Scientist
Notebooks: mirror writing
Birds in flight, movement of water,
Inventions requiring propulsion lacked
means for motion
Leonardo as Painter
The Last Supper (fig. 13.20)
Madonna of the Rocks (fig. 13.19)
Mona Lisa (fig. 13.21)
Classical triangle composition
Felt that painting was “the highest art”
“Renaissance Men”…and
Baldassare Castiglione: wrote The
Courtier, idea of “universal man” (wellrounded individual)
Isabella d’Este: educated, cultured,
refined tastes, and a patroness of the
1. Ruled her city in husband’s absence
2. Multi-talented
Patronage of the Renaissance
Wealthy church officials and families
employed artists for beauty and
entertainment: patronage directly
translated as power and prestige
Popes and princes: Julius II and Leo X
Sometimes there were problems between
patrons and artists
Josquin des Prez: Composer
of the High Renaissance
Leo X meditated in the Sistine Chapel
listening to the choir of a cappella music
Musicians were male, girls had to have
private lessons or attend a convent
Greatest composer of High Renaissance
Match between words and music, complex
polyphony: “word painting” and “imitation”
Julius II: apartments in the Vatican
Known for his Madonnas
School of Athens (fig. 13.25)
1. Aristotle and Plato in center
2. Portraits of contemporary figures
3. Michelangelo front, slightly left of center
Raphael buried in Pantheon and is the
only artist to be buried there
Sistine Chapel Ceiling
In 1508 Pope Julius II asked M. to paint ceiling
Used Old Testament as prophecy of Christ’s
Combines classical and Christian ideas, tension
between spirit and flesh
Central panel Creation of Eve, not Creation of
Adam (fig. 13.28)
Muscular energy – male models
Confident colors (which was not known until
ceiling cleaned in 1990’s!)
The New St. Peter’s
Last years devoted to architecture
Old basilica demolished and modernized
150 years to complete
Three main architects: Bramante, Michelangelo,
Greek Cross floorplan (M.’s design seen only
from the rear) (fig. 13.32)
Conflict between architects and popes
Limited funds in Vatican
An Age of Giants
Why such concentration of talent in Italy?
– Cultural center of beauty and learning
– Triumph of the human spirit