Art is an institution that is so broad that it cannot be defined exactly. Philosophers have debated what art is and what its components are since time immemorial. However, the constraints they encountered hindered them from providing a definition that would best describe ‘art’. Nevertheless, they agree on one aspect: every color and outline of a piece is a way of expression.
One of the factors that jeopardizes the intention to define art is its constant evolution; it is not stable. Art depends on its surroundings to give it life, and culture is a prime example of this life-giving attribute. Each culture has its unique way of expressing traditions, but regardless of how they are expressed, they are always portrayed through art.
Another factor that deems art as evolving is intelligence. As the age of man enters a new era, knowledge, appreciation, philosophy, and views all evolve simultaneously. This aspect of intelligence and philosophy will be discussed in detail below. To best explain this concept, it is imperative to cite a concrete example.
To present the issue, two paintings were chosen. Both paintings contain the same theme but were created during different periods. One was painted during the Middle Ages in Europe, while the other was created during the Renaissance in the same country.
The artwork with the theme The Temptation of Christ” has been a favorite subject of paintings representing beliefs and religion, especially by the Church. This medieval artwork was completed during the Middle Ages in Spain and can be seen in the Hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga, located in the province of Soria, Spain. However, the artist responsible for creating this piece is not identified.
On the other hand, Sandro Botticelli painted a painting with the same subject matter during the Renaissance in 1481-1482. This magnificent artwork can be viewed in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
It is evident that the two paintings have similarities. They were both painted to honor Christ as the Son of God, who dispelled evil and resisted its temptations. Both were created to represent their belief in religion and serve for the beautification of the Church.
However, although they may not appear different to the human eye, there are numerous distinctions beyond their imagination.
The scholars and artists of both the medieval and Renaissance eras were devoted to Christianity. However, it is worth noting that intellectuals during the former period were focused on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science and mathematics.
It is undeniable that the paintings during the medieval period, although perfect in their own way, lack a certain element of realism. The images of men are distorted – their eyes are big and their body structures are not balanced. The parts of their bodies are edgy and the colors used are not flamboyant. The outlines of the images are bold and visible, and the background does not resemble a true earthly surrounding.
The focus on mathematics during the medieval era is evident in this artwork. The artist followed a linear pattern, painting the images of the Temptation of Christ in strict chronological order, as if arranging bowling pins consecutively. The first image depicts the first temptation of Christ, followed by the second and third temptations. While this strict interpretation of biblical verses is depicted through drawings and colors in this picture, it lacks the emotions that were eminent in Christ when he was confronted by these temptations. This painting simply narrates the facts of the story and does not necessarily connect with viewers’ emotions.
During the Renaissance period, cultural movements had a profound impact on intellectual life. Scholars of this era employed the humanist method and focused on realism and human emotion. They studied shadow, light, and human anatomy in art with great vigor. As a result, a distinguishing feature emerged where there was a development of highly realistic perspective. Artists portrayed or rendered the human form realistically and applied techniques to display perspective and light more naturally. The paintings aimed to depict human nature and uncover the axioms of beauty.
The painting by Sandro Botticelli on the Temptation of Christ is a clear example of how art and intelligence can be incorporated into each other to form an innovative way of expression. This piece by Botticelli tangibly portrays reality and true human emotions. With these elements being indispensable ingredients in specific artwork, the grandeur of inherent human essence will leave the viewer in awe.
The works of Botticelli in portraying The Temptation of Christ utilize a true representation of the beauty of the human form. As previously discussed, the use of light, shadows, and human form are all depicted in this painting. Unlike medieval paintings with the same theme, the humans in this picture exhibit normal and usual activities found in a village or town. With proper lighting, shadowing, edging, and spacing techniques used throughout the painting it presents an appearance that is real to life.
The faces and stills of each character emphasize affection and passion which causes their genuine nature to shine through. Therefore it is evident that through scholarly studies as well as cultural influences on intellect manifests itself within art. The love for human form encouraged Botticelli to capture variations in appearance including different emotional states as well as figures from various classes arranged together to create a dramatic effect.
Sandro Botticelli may not be as famous as Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo, but his paintings have reached the peak of popularity. His name is now just as memorable and indestructible as the other two famous artists mentioned, thanks to his works with fantastic lines and patterns applied. Botticelli was not an ordinary goldsmith; his determination to become an artist prevailed. He was trained by Fra Filippo Lippi, from whom he learned different philosophies about humans and how to replicate them in realistic paintings. By the age of fifteen, he was already a master of art in his own right.
The mastery of the human form, which was depicted several times in Renaissance art, simply shows that the population of that era respected man and his capabilities. It also shows that aesthetics were highly regarded since they were magnanimously mastered. The beauty of mankind’s existence and the benefits it brings to other creations of the Supreme Maker were also given high attention.
Most famous Renaissance paintings were created for religious purposes, as this period was devoted to Christianity. Scholars continually emphasized the humanity of Christ and the need to model our lives after Him. Even though these artworks share a common theme, no two pieces in the same category are alike. These variations display the creativity of artists, as well as concerns of patrons and changing attitudes within the Church.
The Renaissance is intimately connected to the birth and death of Christ because this period of time focuses more on the reality of human nature, including that of Christ himself who was born and raised on earth. This drama in Christ’s life puts the dignity of human beings on a pedestal and increases the value of humanity. The birth and death of Christ, in addition to his dwelling on earth, signify that God so loved man that his only Son became one.
In this era, society placed great emphasis on religion, as the life of Christ embodied everyday teachings. Images of Christ were created with real light and shadows to enhance the worship experience for the faithful. Therefore, artists and scholars provided an indispensable service by working within the structure of tradition upheld by the majority.
During the Renaissance, scholars and intellectuals researched information related to human nature and focused on it. As a result, the arts of this time became more realistic and effective in depicting what is truly real. They confidently represented the various aspects of human beings. The works were enhanced with shadows, lights, and anatomy, allowing viewers to experience vicariously the culture and traditions rendered in these masterpieces.
The ideology of humanity emphasizes the importance of art and places particular emphasis on themes related to both the earthly and heavenly nature of man. Scholars’ philosophies are uniform in agreeing that man is the only created being that is superior to animals and other living beings.
Pico della Mirandola authored a vibrant defense of thinking titled The Oration of the Dignity of Man. In this piece, mankind was appreciated in every detail of its existence. Man was elevated above every creature on earth. Moreover, man in this article is made deserving of the blessings and fruits of the earth because he is most beloved by God.
These studies in the Renaissance era were said to be evidence that society had improved on the culture from the Middle Ages. However, it was debated that these ideologies just worsened social diseases such as poverty, adultery, prostitution, crimes, and others.
Although these ideologies – rampant appreciation for human aesthetics – were considered to be the foundation of a golden era” by a few people, these same philosophies were treated as an incubus for more stringent and serious debates.
Nevertheless, Pico’s piece was so popular and effective that it affected a large portion of the population at that time – not considering his young age.
In conclusion, regardless of how an art form is executed or how many elements are incorporated into it, it remains a medium of expression. Regardless of the artist’s race or language, or the philosophies they have learned, art remains the most convenient and effective way to express a culture or tradition.
The Temptation of Christ” [Spain] (61.248) is a work of art featured in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. This piece can be found at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was first displayed in 2000. For more information, visit http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/61.248 (October 2006).
Eric Rymer’s artwork titled Temptation of Christ, Bearer of the Law of the Gospel” was inspired by Sandro Botticelli. The piece was created between 2000-2010 and can be found online. The source for this information is dated May 22, 2010.