Things you should know about the Renaissance

The following is an excerpt of my Year 11 Art Class Renaissance assignment:

When was the Renaissance?

Approximately 14th C to 16th C

What was the period that immediately preceded the Renaissance?

The medieval period. 476CE to 1300CE

4 characteristics of Medieval art

  1. No personality or distinctive face given
  2. No perspective
  3. Was always religious (halos around figures heads)
  4. Figures were still and static.

What does the term Renaissance mean?

Rebirth, as in a new period of learning. Artists referred back to classical art of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

The renaissance created a big shift between the way people, especially educated people, thought.

Humanism was brought to Italy by Byzantine scholars who had emigrated from the Italian invitation sent by the Italian humanists. These people brought with them a wealth of classical manuscripts and a bundle of knowledge of the Ancient Greek language. Humanists were a group of Italian philosophers and scholars reacting against the rigid church-based thinking of the time. These people believed that by following the ancient Greek and Romans the best and most valued characteristics of the human would be released.

There was also a big shift in the way artists worked.

Before the public started to find out about humanism the artistic renditions were flat, rigid and solid in colour. They held no depth or perspective, no identity or emotion in faces and were always religious relating to god. The subtle hues in in shadows, water and snow were all absent. Later in the 15th century artists were experimenting with chiaroscuro (light and dark). They also applied paler colours on objects receding in to the distance. Sfumato (blurring of the edges to help support the painting of perspective) first appeared in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio.

Characteristics in the High Renaissance style

  • No depth nor perspective
  • Faces are stiff, bodies are stiff – no movement.
  • No tone. Flat imagery.
  • No personality or defined characteristics.
  • Subtle hues of colour are absent.

Renaissance painters first attempt to create the illusion of reality on a 2-dimensional surface

Their first attempt was to make the colours in the distance paler, less focused on. They disregarded details of objects depending on how far they are in the distance. Another attempt was smoking the edges of the subjects face in the painting.

At the end of the 15th century Leonardo wrote about the techniques of atmospheric perspective.

Atmospheric perspective is making colours in the background have a subtle blue colour and ignoring minor detail of objects depending on how far in the distance they are. Perspective also means having a vanishing point in your drawing/painting to help support the illusion.

Leonardo used Sfumato, an innovatory technique to soften the edges of forms.

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15th, 1452 in the small Tuscan town of Vinci near Florence.

Leonardo constantly went out and observed people in his area. Gestures and expressions that he was interested in were all recorded in his notebooks. Because Da Vinci never had a model this made his paintings take more time to be finished. He took his sketches and combined them to make a figure.

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