The meaning of the word renaissance is rebirth. In the history of European civilization, this term significantly marks the downfall of the middle age and beginning of a era that demonstrates broad achievement in cultural field due to reemerged interest in classing art along with adopting the ideas of ancient civilization of Rome and Greece. The main idea underlying this rebirth process is that the greatness in the field of art can be achieved through the application of artistic and intellectual characteristics of the Greece and Roman antiquity.
The renaissance period can be divided into three phases- Early, high, and last period. This segregation is used to be done in order to demonstrate that there occurred continuing evolution in art. Renaissance art actually shows a remarkable evolution of in the form of art, the style of shifting as well as the subject of art which actually demonstrate the rebirth of classical values which were main based on the reemergence of knowledge from ancient period. The new art form also shows a revival of humanism that lost in the middle age. This new form of humanism put its emphasis on the experiences of an individual. However, this new concept of humanism did not displace concerns in the spiritual field.
Rebirth of art
A very distinguishing characteristic of the art at the time of Renaissance was the formation of a very realistic linear outlook. Among the three Renaissance periods, the early Renaissance era can be distinguished as he era of development of great arts that shows classical features. The development of a linear outlook can be credited to Giotto di Bondone who in the early fourteenth century took the first step in considering a painting as a kinds of window. However, this linear perspective was developed as a particular technique of art in the works of the architect Filippo Brnelleschi and in the writings of Leon Battista Alberti. The development of this linear outlook of art was nothing but a part of a broader trend towards the development of realism in art.
With the rediscovery of classical culture, the art of painting was alerted radically. The Renaissance gave a rebirth of ancient forms of art and its content by 1500 A.D. In the field of painting, its spiritual content went through a change by incorporating subject matters of Roman mythology and the history of Roman culture. on the other hand, Christian devotional art also humanized classically.
The principles of Classical art, such as proportion selected in a harmonious way, realistic form of expression of subjects, and postures of rational type were imitated. Particularly two parts of Western Europe were actually took active steps towards adopting classical features of art at the time of early Renaissance. They were Italy and Flanders. Most of the artistic works of early Renaissance era were created in northern part of Europe. These arts were produced during the period ranging of 1420 to 1550. Now some of the great examples of these renaissance arts can be described in order to examine how they revived ancient culture.
A classic example of these arts is the work of Giotto Di Bondones, particularly, his wall paintings in Italy, Padua and Arena Chapel. The distinguishing feature of his works is innovations in the area of painting which significantly depicted the process of cultural transition from the era of middle age to a new era of art. At the end of the fourteenth century it was not very evident that a new era had started and therefore, diverse influences of the medieval European culture reverberated strongly in the paintings of plaster by Giotto di Bondones.
Although he was quite capable of surpassing the feeling of isolation of the arts of the middle age, his works were very much limited to simple settings for amplifying dramatic chapters of the redemption of Christian. His innovations were generally taken place on a flat surface with a not-so-intensed and sculptural weight and depth. This kind of artistic innovations play a major role in defining Giotto di Bondones as an important figure in the artistic rebirth which continued thereafter by other artists.
However, also being a key figure in giving rebirth of ancient artistic forms, one of his works known to be as The Lamentation which was created between 1305 and 1306, significantly demonstrates a story that originated in Byzantine form of art which developed at the end of the middle age in spite of depicting the artistic forms included in the Bible. Another master piece in the field of painting which was created in the era of Renaissance is Monalisa created by Leonardo da Vinci. It bears some classical form of painting.
In the field of architecture, on the other hand, Filippo Brunelleschi was the first one who made an attempt to running a research on classical art from the relics of the buildings that were made in ancient age. He also rediscovered knowledge regarding classical art from the writings of Vitruvius who was a first century writer. With these knowledge of classical art he mixed up the flourishing discipline in the area of mathematics and created the Renaissance style of architecture which imitated and improved classical forms of art.
The most significant example of his work is the construction of the Florence Cathedral’s dome. However, in the field of architecture, the first work that demonstrated classical art is claimed to be the St. Andrew church in Mantua which was constructed by Alberti. In the high renaissance era one of the excellent works in the field of architecture was the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica which combined the expertise of the architects like Bramante, Maderno, Raphael and Sangalo. At the age of Renaissance, architects generally made use of an integrated system that combined columns, pilasters with entablatures.
Very often semi-circular or segmental types of arches were used in the construction of arcades which were mainly supported by columns with the help of capitals. Some times architects of this era constructed a section of entablature, especially between the springing and the capital of the arch. The arch was used on a monumental for the first time by Alberti. A distinguishing feature of Renaissance was that the vaults used to have no ribs and they were built in a segmental or semi-circular form on square space., where as Gothic vaults were used to be rectangular on most of the cases.
Research on renaissance art reveals that renaissance art mainly marks intersections of cultures. This art form mixed artistic influences of Byzantium and early Christian era with intellectual foundations of the golden ages during Muslim rule and revival of the artistic sense of classical antiquity. With this distinguishing feature, renaissance art became very unique and set landmark of achievement in the area of art.[
- Davies, Penelope J.E., Walter B. Denny, Frima Fox Hofrichter, Joseph Jacobs, Ann M. Roberts, David L. Simon, H.W. Janson, and Anthony F. Janson. 2007. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition. 7th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
- Morgan, Michael Hamilton. 2007. Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
- Wright, Jonathan. 2006. The Ambassadors. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc.
- Early Renaissance. n.d. retrieved from http://www.huntfor.com/arthistory/renaissance/earlyrenaiss.htm on 8th July, 2010.
- Thorndike, L. (1943) ‘Renaissance or Prenaissance?’ in “Some Remarks on the Question of the Originality of the Renaissance”, Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 4, No.1 , pp.49-60