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Artist Feature

By Framd | 05 April 2019

What Is Renaissance Art?

 
For some, trying to pin art down, to encapsulate it in a specific time and place, is impossible. It’s unthinkable. Art is fluid by its very nature, and that is one of the most magical things about it.
 

Ceiling fresco in Palazzo Barberini, Rome, Italy

 
Yet even the most die-hard advocate of forgetting about labels and letting everyone see what they see with no external output has to admit that Renaissance art is different; there is something so strikingly stylistic about it that it could come from no other time, be painted by no other artists. And therefore we are delving deeper into this particular era of art; what is it really and why is it so different to everything that came before, or has come since?

 

The Beginnings

Florence was always an important area for the Renaissance. This is where many of the artists came from, although by the 16th century Rome and Venice were also strong contenders. For artists who wanted to study under the tutelage of the masters, Florence, however, was where they went in their droves for centuries.

 

Society was becoming more and more sophisticated – the economy was growing, politics were much more stable, education became more important and structured (libraries were opening up at an astonishing rate), and travel was more widely considered and, most importantly, possible. This opened up a brand new world of ideas and beauty, and it meant that study of the past was more easily achieved.

 

The Medici family
The Medici family
 
Leonardo da Vinci
leonardo da vinci

 

 
The Players

Although the first thought that will most likely come to mind when you think of the Renaissance period is the artists involved, we mustn’t forget that there would have been far less interest and opportunities to study and create art were it not for the patrons who made it possible. Figures such as the Medici family of Florence, Pope Julius II, Pope Leo X, and the Sforza family of Milan all sponsored the arts, helping to bring these new/old ideas to a wider audience.

 

But there would, of course, be nothing without the artists themselves. Perhaps Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous of the Renaissance artists, with ideas that took from the past but that were cleverly modern too – showing humanity in a way that offered a chance to see perfection. Raphael and Michelangelo were of a similar school of thought; their work has often been regarded as offering an insight into what the ideal man – or woman – might be.

 

Where?

Florence was always an important area for the Renaissance. This is where many of the artists came from, although by the 16th century Rome and Venice were also strong contenders. For artists who wanted to study under the tutelage of the masters, Florence, however, was where they went in their droves for centuries.

 
The Style

So just what is Renaissance art? We know it when we see it – we understand it in this way, but its themes and the ideas behind the brushstrokes are something else. Religion played a major part in works of art produced during the Renaissance period with many paintings showing the Virgin Mary. Many of these works were used as devotional images and used during mass, perhaps having been sponsored by rich benefactors.

 


 

 
 

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