MoMA | Glossary of Art Terms
Donatello became renowned as the greatest sculptor of the Early Renaissance, his masterpieces being his Humanist and unusually erotic statue of David , one of the icons of the Florentine republic, and his great monument to Gattamelata , the first large equestrian bronze to be created since Roman times. The contemporary of Donatello, Masaccio , was the painterly descendant of Giotto and began the Early Renaissance in Italian Painting in , furthering the trend towards solidity of form and naturalism of face and gesture that Giotto had begun a century earlier. From , Masaccio completed several panel paintings but is best known for the fresco cycle that he began in the Brancacci Chapel with the older artist Masolino and which had profound influence on later painters, including Michelangelo.
Masaccio's developments were carried forward in the paintings of Fra Angelico , particularly in his frescos at the Convent of San Marco in Florence. The treatment of the elements of perspective and light in painting was of particular concern to 15th-century Florentine painters. Uccello was so obsessed with trying to achieve an appearance of perspective that, according to Vasari, it disturbed his sleep. His solutions can be seen in his masterpiece set of three paintings, the Battle of San Romano which is believed to have been completed by Piero della Francesca made systematic and scientific studies of both light and linear perspective, the results of which can be seen in his fresco cycle of The History of the True Cross in San Francesco, Arezzo.
In Naples , the painter Antonello da Messina began using oil paints for portraits and religious paintings at a date that preceded other Italian painters, possibly about He carried this technique north and influenced the painters of Venice. One of the most significant painters of Northern Italy was Andrea Mantegna , who decorated the interior of a room, the Camera degli Sposi for his patron Ludovico Gonzaga , setting portraits of the family and court into an illusionistic architectural space.
The end period of the Early Renaissance in Italian art is marked, like its beginning, by a particular commission that drew artists together, this time in cooperation rather than competition. In the sixteen large paintings, the artists, although each working in his individual style, agreed on principles of format, and utilised the techniques of lighting, linear and atmospheric perspective, anatomy, foreshortening and characterisation that had been carried to a high point in the large Florentine studios of Ghiberti, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio and Perugino.
The artists of France, including duchies such as Burgundy were often associated with courts, providing illuminated manuscripts and portraits for the nobility as well as devotional paintings and altarpieces. Jean Fouquet , painter of the royal court, visited Italy in and reflects the influence of Florentine painters such as Paolo Uccello. Although best known for his portraits such as that of Charles VII of France Fouquet also created illuminations, and is thought to be the inventor of the portrait miniature.
There were a number of artists at this date who painted famed altarpieces, that are stylistically quite distinct from both the Italian and the Flemish. In these works realism and close observation of the human figure, emotions and lighting are combined with a Medieval formality, which includes gilt backgrounds.
The "universal genius" Leonardo da Vinci was to further perfect the aspects of pictorial art lighting, linear and atmospheric perspective, anatomy, foreshortening and characterisation that had preoccupied artists of the Early Renaissance, in a lifetime of studying and meticulously recording his observations of the natural world. His adoption of oil paint as his primary media meant that he could depict light and its effects on the landscape and objects more naturally and with greater dramatic effect than had ever been done before, as demonstrated in the Mona Lisa.
His dissection of cadavers carried forward the understanding of skeletal and muscular anatomy, as seen in the unfinished St Jerome. His depiction of human emotion in The Last Supper , completed , set the benchmark for religious painting.
The art of Leonardo's younger contemporary Michelangelo took a very different direction. Michelangelo, in neither his painting nor his sculpture demonstrates any interest in the observation of any natural object except the human body. He perfected his technique in depicting it, while in his early twenties, by the creation of the enormous marble statue of David and the group the Pieta , in St Peter's Basilica , Rome.
He then set about an exploration of the expressive possibilities of the human anatomy. His commission by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling resulted in the supreme masterpiece of figurative composition, which was to have profound effect on every subsequent generation of European artists . His later work, The Last Judgement , painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel between and shows a Mannerist also called Late Renaissance style with generally elongated bodies which took over from the High Renaissance style between and Standing alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo as the third great painter of the High Renaissance was the younger Raphael , who in a short life span painted a great number of lifelike and engaging portraits, including those of Pope Julius II and his successor Pope Leo X , and numerous portrayals of the Madonna and Christ Child, including the Sistine Madonna.
His death in at age 37 is considered by many art historians to be the end of the High Renaissance period, although some individual artists continued working in the High Renaissance style for many years thereafter. In Northern Italy the High Renaissance is represented by the latter works of Giovanni Bellini , especially religious paintings, which include several large altarpieces of a type known as " Sacred Conversation " which show a group of saints around the enthroned Madonna.
His contemporary Giorgione , who died at about the age of 32 in , left a small number of enigmatic works, including The Tempest , the subject of which has remained a matter of speculation. The earliest works of Titian date from the era of the High Renaissance, including a massive altarpiece The Assumption of the Virgin which combines human action and drama with spectacular colour and atmosphere.
Titian continued painting in a generally High Renaissance style until near the end of his career in the s, although he increasingly used colour and light over line to define his figures.
German Renaissance art falls into the broader category of the Renaissance in Northern Europe, also known as the Northern Renaissance. Renaissance influences began to appear in German art in the 15th century, but this trend was not widespread.
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Gardner's Art Through the Ages identifies Michael Pacher , a painter and sculptor, as the first German artist whose work begins to show Italian Renaissance influences. According to that source, Pacher's painting, St. Germany had master engravers, such as Martin Schongauer , who did metal engravings in the late s. Gardner relates this mastery of the graphic arts to advances in printing which occurred in Germany, and says that metal engraving began to replace the woodcut during the Renaissance.
In the s, Renaissance art in Germany became more common as, according to Gardner, "The art of northern Europe during the sixteenth century is characterized by a sudden awareness of the advances made by the Italian Renaissance and by a desire to assimilate this new style as rapidly as possible. Both Gardner and Russell recognized the importance of Durer's contribution to German art in bringing Italian Renaissance styles and ideas to Germany. The same source says that Hans Holbein the Younger — successfully assimilated Italian ideas while also keeping "northern traditions of close realism.
Britain was very late to develop a Renaissance style and most artists of the Tudor court were imported foreigners, usually from the Low countries , including Hans Holbein the Younger , who died in England. One exception was the portrait miniature , which artists including Nicholas Hilliard developed into a distinct genre, well before it became popular in the rest of Europe.
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Renaissance art in Scotland was similarly dependent on imported artists, and largely restricted to the court. Renaissance artists painted a wide variety of themes. Religious altarpieces , fresco cycles, and small works for private devotion were very popular. For inspiration, painters in both Italy and northern Europe frequently turned to Jacobus de Voragine 's Golden Legend , a highly influential source book for the lives of saints that had already had a strong influence on Medieval artists.
The rebirth of classical antiquity and Renaissance humanism also resulted in many Mythological and history paintings.
Small Art That Makes A Big Impact
Ovidian stories, for example, were very popular. This negative space is the path created by each spectator, the space they occupy when they walk from one work to another, when their eyes scroll from one element to another. And this space is, of course, strongly influenced by the context. In terms of types of artwork you often find a wonderful dialogue between, say, a large painting and a more intimate group of four to six photographs, or works on paper.
As long as there are enough works to create a real impact, the pattern — visual or conceptual — will reveal itself as you begin to assemble it. While drawing upon similarities between artworks can be one way of organising your collection, hanging very different pieces alongside one another can also create a visually striking display.
When hanging an artwork, our art handlers recommend getting technical. So how do the experts arrange their own artworks? I have little paintings across my apartment — and even a few in my bookshelf! A sculpture is next on my wish list. It will bring together more that 50 artists whose work examines the notion of magic and belief.
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