Renaissance art Culture.
1. Latin and Greek Phases of Renaissance humanism.
2. Art, Science, Religion.
3. Renaissance art Culture Spreading.
Latin and Greek Phases of Renaissance humanism.
The Renaissance (French
for "rebirth"; Italian: Rinascimento, from re- "again" and
nascere "be born") was a cultural movement that spanned roughly
the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Florence in the Late Middle Ages and
later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to
refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not
There is a general, but not unchallenged, consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Tuscany in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and there has been much debate among historians as to the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation. Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age, while others have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras. Indeed, some have called for an end to the use of the term, which they see as a product of presentism – the use of history to validate and glorify modern ideals. The word Renaissance has also been used to describe other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.
The Renaissance was a
cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the
early modern period. Beginning in
sought out in Europe's monastic libraries and the crumbling
Artists such as Masaccio strove to portray the human form realistically, developing techniques to render perspective and light more naturally. Political philosophers, most famously Niccolò Machiavelli, sought to describe political life as it really was, that is to understand it rationally. A critical contribution to Italian Renaissance humanism Pico della Mirandola wrote the famous text "De hominis dignitate" (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), which consists of a series of theses on philosophy, natural thought, faith and magic defended against any opponent on the grounds of reason. In addition to studying classical Latin and Greek, Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use vernacular languages; combined with the invention of printing, this would allow many more people access to books, especially the Bible.
In all, the Renaissance
could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals to study and improve the secular
and worldly, both through the revival of ideas from antiquity, and through
novel approaches to thought. Some scholars, such as Rodney Stark, play down the Renaissance in favor of the earlier
innovations of the Italian city states in the High Middle Ages, which married
responsive government, Christianity and the birth of capitalism. This analysis
argues that, whereas the great European states (
Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man shows clearly the effect writers of Antiquity had on Renaissance thinkers. Based on the specifications in Vitruvius's De architectura around 1500 years before, Da Vinci tried to draw the perfectly proportioned man.
Art, Science, Religion.
Renaissance art Culture Spreading.
Most historians agree that the ideas that
characterized the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th century Florence,
in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Francesco
Petrarca (1304–1374), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone
(1267–1337). Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely; one
proposed starting point is 1401, when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and
Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for
the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Others see more
general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi,
Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking the
creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the Renaissance
Latin and Greek Phases of Renaissance humanism
In stark contrast to the High Middle Ages, when Latin scholars focused almost entirely on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science, philosophy and mathematics,  Renaissance scholars were most interested in recovering and studying Latin and Greek literary, historical, and oratorical texts. Broadly speaking, this began in the fourteenth century with a Latin phase, when Renaissance scholars such as Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati (1331 – 1406), Niccolò de' Niccoli (1364 – 1437) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380 – 1459 AD) scoured the libraries of Europe in search of works by such Latin authors as Cicero, Livy and Seneca. By the early fifteenth century, the bulk of such Latin literature had been recovered; the Greek phase of Renaissance humanism was now under way, as Western European scholars turned to recovering ancient Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts.
Unlike the case of Latin texts, which had been
preserved and studied in Western Europe since late antiquity, the study of
ancient Greek texts was very limited in medieval
The fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, accompanied by the closure of its schools of higher learning by the Ottoman Turks, brought many other Greek scholars to Italy and beyond, who brought with them Greek manuscripts, and knowledge of the classical Greek literature, some of which had been lost for centuries in the West.
Social and political
A political map of the
The unique political structures of late Middle Ages Italy have led some
to theorize that its unusual social climate allowed the emergence of a rare
Historian and political philosopher Quentin Skinner points out that Otto
of Freising (c. 1114 - 1158) , a German bishop visiting north Italy during the
12th century, noticed a widespread new form of political and social
organisation, observing that Italy appeared to have exited from Feudalism so
that its society was based on merchants and commerce. Linked to this was
anti-monarchical thinking, represented in the famous early Renaissance fresco
cycle Allegory of Good and Bad Government in
Even cities and states beyond central
One theory that has been advanced is that the devastation caused by the
Black Death in Florence, which hit Europe between 1348 and 1350, resulted in a
shift in the world view of people in 14th-century Italy. Italy was particularly
badly hit by the plague, and it has been speculated that the familiarity with
death that this brought caused thinkers to dwell more on their lives on Earth,
rather than on spirituality and the afterlife. It has also been argued that
the Black Death prompted a new wave of piety, manifested in the sponsorship of
religious works of art. However, this does not fully explain why the
Renaissance occurred specifically in Italy in the 14th century. The Black Death
was a pandemic that affected all of Europe in the ways described, not only
In the wake of the black death, reduced population left work-forces
depleted: this tended, throughout
Cultural conditions in
Lorenzo de' Medici, ruler of
It has long been a matter of debate why the Renaissance began in
The Renaissance was certainly underway before Lorenzo came to power;
indeed, before the Medici family itself achieved hegemony in Florentine
society. Some historians have postulated that
In some ways Humanism was not a philosophy per se, but rather a method of learning. In contrast to the medieval scholastic mode, which focused on resolving contradictions between authors, humanists would study ancient texts in the original, and appraise them through a combination of reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist education was based on the programme of 'Studia Humanitatis', that being the study of five humanities: poetry, grammar, history, moral philosophy and rhetoric. Although historians have sometimes struggled to define humanism precisely, most have settled on "a middle of the road definition... the movement to recover, interpret, and assimilate the language, literature, learning and values of ancient Greece and Rome". Above all, humanists asserted "the genius of man ... the unique and extraordinary ability of the human mind."
Humanist scholars shaped the intellectual landscape throughout the early
modern period. Political philosophers such as Niccolò Machiavelli and
Thomas More(1478 – 1535) revived the ideas of Greek and Roman thinkers, and
applied them in critiques of contemporary government. Machiavelli's
contribution, in the view of Isaiah
Italian Renaissance painting, Renaissance painting, and Renaissance architecture
The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo
One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective. Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337) is credited with first treating a painting as a window into space, but it was not until the demonstrations of architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) and the subsequent writings of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) that perspective was formalized as an artistic technique. The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts. To that end, painters also developed other techniques, studying light, shadow, and, famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Underlying these changes in artistic method, was a renewed desire to depict the beauty of nature, and to unravel the axioms of aesthetics, with the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael representing artistic pinnacles that were to be much imitated by other artists. Other notable artists include Sandro Botticelli, working for the Medici in Florence, Donatello another Florentine and Titian in Venice, among others.
Concurrently, in the Netherlands, a particularly vibrant artistic culture
developed, the work of Hugo van der Goes and Jan van Eyck having particular
influence on the development of painting in Italy, both technically with the
introduction of oil paint and canvas, and stylistically in terms of naturalism
in representation. (For more, see Renaissance in the
In architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the
remains of ancient classical buildings, and with rediscovered knowledge from
the 1st-century writer Vitruvius and the flourishing discipline of mathematics,
formulated the Renaissance style which emulated and improved on classical
forms. Brunelleschi's major feat of engineering was the building of the dome of
Florence Cathedral. The first building to demonstrate this is claimed to be
The Roman orders types of columns are used: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. These can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or purely decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters. During the Renaissance, architects aimed to use columns, pilasters, and entablatures as an integrated system. One of the first buildings to use pilasters as an integrated system was in the Old Sacristy (1421–1440) by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Arches, semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental, are often used in arcades, supported on piers or columns with capitals. There may be a section of entablature between the capital and the springing of the arch. Alberti was one of the first to use the arch on a monumental. Renaissance vaults do not have ribs. They are semi-circular or segmental and on a square plan, unlike the Gothic vault which is frequently rectangular.
History of science in the Renaissance and Renaissance technology
The upheavals occurring in the arts and humanities were mirrored by a dynamic period of change in the sciences. Some have seen this flurry of activity as a "scientific revolution", heralding the beginning of the modern age. Others have seen it merely as an acceleration of a continuous process stretching from the ancient world to the present day. Regardless, there is general agreement that the Renaissance saw significant changes in the way the universe was viewed and the methods with which philosophers sought to explain natural phenomena.
Galileo Galilei. Portrait in crayon by Leoni
Science and art were very much intermingled in the early Renaissance, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci making observational drawings of anatomy and nature. An exhaustive 2007 study by Fritjof Capra  shows that Leonardo was a much greater scientist than previously thought, and not just an inventor. In science theory and in conducting actual science practice, Leonardo was innovative. He set up controlled experiments in water flow, medical dissection, and systematic study of movement and aerodynamics; he devised principles of research method that for Capra classify him as “father of modern science”. In Capra's detailed assessment of many surviving manuscripts Leonardo's science is more in tune with holistic non-mechanistic and non-reductive approaches to science which are becoming popular today. Perhaps the most significant development of the era was not a specific discovery, but rather a process for discovery, the scientific method. This revolutionary new way of learning about the world focused on empirical evidence, the importance of mathematics, and discarding the Aristotelian "final cause" in favor of a mechanical philosophy. Early and influential proponents of these ideas included Copernicus and Galileo. In his 1991 survey of these developments, Charles Van Doren  considers that the Copernican revolution really is the Galilean cartesian (René Descartes) revolution, on account of the nature of the courage and depth of change their work brought about.
The new scientific method led to great contributions in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and anatomy. With the publication of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, a new confidence was placed in the role of dissection, observation, and a mechanistic view of anatomy.
Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation
The new ideals of humanism, although more secular in some aspects, developed against an unquestioned Christian backdrop, especially in the Northern Renaissance. Indeed, much (if not most) of the new art was commissioned by or in dedication to the Church. However, the Renaissance had a profound effect on contemporary theology, particularly in the way people perceived the relationship between man and God. Many of the period's foremost theologians were followers of the humanist method, including Erasmus, Zwingli, Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.
Alexander VI, a Borgia Pope infamous for his corruption
The Renaissance began in times of religious turmoil. The late Middle Ages saw a period of political intrigue surrounding the Papacy, culminating in the Western Schism, in which three men simultaneously claimed to be true Bishop of Rome. While the schism was resolved by the Council of Constance (1414), the 15th century saw a resulting reform movement know as Conciliarism, which sought to limit the pope's power. Although the papacy eventually emerged supreme in ecclesiastical matters by the Fifth Council of the Lateran (1511), it was dogged by continued accusations of corruption, most famously in the person of Pope Alexander VI, who was accused variously of simony, nepotism and fathering four illegitimate children whilst Pope, whom he married off to gain more power.
Churchmen such as Erasmus and Luther proposed reform to the Church, often
based on humanist textual criticism of the New Testament. Indeed, it was
Luther who in October 1517 published the 95 Theses, challenging papal authority
and criticizing its perceived corruption, particularly with regard to its sale
of indulgences. The 95 Theses led to the Reformation, a break with the Roman
Catholic Church that previously claimed hegemony in
By the 15th century, writers, artists and architects in Italy were well aware of the transformations that were taking place and were using phrases like modi antichi (in the antique manner) or alle romana et alla antica (in the manner of the Romans and the ancients) to describe their work. The term la rinascita first appeared, however, in its broad sense in Giorgio Vasari's Vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori Italiani (The Lives of the Artists, 1550, revised 1568). Vasari divides the age into three phases: the first phase contains Cimabue, Giotto, and Arnolfo di Cambio; the second phase contains Masaccio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello; the third centers on Leonardo da Vinci and culminates with Michelangelo. It was not just the growing awareness of classical antiquity that drove this development, according to Vasari, but also the growing desire to study and imitate nature.
In the 15th century, the Renaissance spread with great speed from its
Northern Renaissance and
Renaissance in the
The Arnolfini Portrait, by Jan van Eyck, painted 1434
The Renaissance as it occurred in
The Renaissance style came directly from
An early Italian humanist who came to
In the second half of the 15th century, the spirit of the age spread to
Germany and the Low Countries, where the development of the printing press (ca.
1450) and early Renaissance artists like the painters Jan van Eyck (1395-1441)
and Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) and the composers Johannes Ockeghem
(1410-1497), Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505) and Josquin des Prez (1455-1521),
predated the influence from Italy. In the early Protestant areas of the country
humanism became closely linked to the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation,
and the art and writing of the German Renaissance frequently reflected this
dispute. However, the gothic style and medieval scholastic philosophy
remained exclusively until the turn of the 16th century. Emperor Maximilian I
(Ruling:1493-1519) was the first truly Renaissance monarch of the
In 1495 the Italian Renaissance arrived in
In England, the Elizabethan era marked the beginning of the English Renaissance with the work of writers William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Milton, and Edmund Spenser, as well as great artists, architects (such as Inigo Jones who introduced Italianate architecture to England), and composers such as Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and William Byrd.
While Renaissance ideas were moving north from Italy, there was a
simultaneous southward spread of some areas of innovation, particularly in
music. The music of the 15th century Burgundian School defined the
beginning of the Renaissance in that art and the polyphony of the
Netherlanders, as it moved with the musicians themselves into Italy, formed the
core of what was the first true international style in music since the
standardization of Gregorian Chant in the 9th century. The culmination of
the Netherlandish school was in the music of the Italian composer, Palestrina.
At the end of the 16th century
The paintings of the Italian Renaissance differed from those of the Northern Renaissance. Italian Renaissance artists were among the first to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the purely religious art of medieval painters. At first, Northern Renaissance artists remained focused on religious subjects, such as the contemporary religious upheaval portrayed by Albrecht Dürer. Later on, the works of Pieter Bruegel influenced artists to paint scenes of daily life rather than religious or classical themes. It was also during the northern Renaissance that Flemish brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck perfected the oil painting technique, which enabled artists to produce strong colors on a hard surface that could survive for centuries. A feature of the Northern Renaissance was its use of the vernacular in place of Latin or Greek, which allowed greater freedom of expression. This movement had started in Italy with the decisive influence of Dante Alighieri on the development of vernacular languages; in fact the focus on writing in Italian has neglected a major source of Florentine ideas expressed in Latin. The spread of the technology of the German invention of movable type printing boosted the Renaissance, in Northern Europe as elsewhere; with Venice becoming a world center of printing.
The Renaissance arrived in the Iberian peninsula through the Mediterranean
possessions of the Aragonese Crown and the city of
Later Spanish Renaissance tended towards religious themes and mysticism,
with poetas such as fray Luis de León, Teresa of Ávila and John
of the Cross, and treated issues related to the exploration of the
The term was first used retrospectively by the Italian artist and critic
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) in his book The Lives of the Artists (published
1550). In the book Vasari was attempting to define what he described as a break
with the barbarities of gothic art: the arts had fallen into decay with the
collapse of the
However, it was not until the nineteenth century that the French word Renaissance achieved popularity in describing the cultural movement that began in the late-13th century. The Renaissance was first defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France. For Michelet, the Renaissance was more a development in science than in art and culture. He asserted that it spanned the period from Columbus to Copernicus to Galileo; that is, from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the seventeenth century. Moreover, Michelet distinguished between what he called, "the bizarre and monstrous" quality of the Middle Ages and the democratic values that he, as a vocal Republican, chose to see in its character. A French nationalist, Michelet also sought to claim the Renaissance as a French movement.
The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) in his Die Cultur der
Renaissance in Italien (1860), by contrast, defined the Renaissance as the
period between Giotto and Michelangelo in
More recently, historians have been much less keen to define the Renaissance as a historical age, or even a coherent cultural movement. As Randolph Starn has put it,
Rather than a period with definitive beginnings and endings and consistent content in between, the Renaissance can be (and occasionally has been) seen as a movement of practices and ideas to which specific groups and identifiable persons variously responded in different times and places. It would be in this sense a network of diverse, sometimes converging, sometimes conflicting cultures, not a single, time-bound culture.
Painting of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, an event in the French Wars of Religion, by François Dubois
Much of the debate around the Renaissance has centered around whether the Renaissance truly was an "improvement" on the culture of the Middle Ages. Both Michelet and Burckhardt were keen to describe the progress made in the Renaissance towards the "modern age". Burckhardt likened the change to a veil being removed from man's eyes, allowing him to see clearly.
In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or half awake beneath a common veil. The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession, through which the world and history were seen clad in strange hues.
—Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in
On the other hand, many historians now point out that most of the negative social factors popularly associated with the "medieval" period – poverty, warfare, religious and political persecution, for example – seem to have worsened in this era which saw the rise of Machiavelli, the Wars of Religion, the corrupt Borgia Popes, and the intensified witch-hunts of the 16th century. Many people who lived during the Renaissance did not view it as the "golden age" imagined by certain 19th-century authors, but were concerned by these social maladies. Significantly, though, the artists, writers, and patrons involved in the cultural movements in question believed they were living in a new era that was a clean break from the Middle Ages. Some Marxist historians prefer to describe the Renaissance in material terms, holding the view that the changes in art, literature, and philosophy were part of a general economic trend away from feudalism towards capitalism, resulting in a bourgeois class with leisure time to devote to the arts.
Johan Huizinga (1872–1945) acknowledged the existence of the Renaissance but questioned whether it was a positive change. In his book The Waning of the Middle Ages, he argued that the Renaissance was a period of decline from the High Middle Ages, destroying much that was important. The Latin language, for instance, had evolved greatly from the classical period and was still a living language used in the church and elsewhere. The Renaissance obsession with classical purity halted its further evolution and saw Latin revert to its classical form. Robert S. Lopez has contended that it was a period of deep economic recession. Meanwhile George Sarton and Lynn Thorndike have both argued that scientific progress was perhaps less original than has traditionally been supposed.
Some historians have begun to consider the word Renaissance to be unnecessarily loaded, implying an unambiguously positive rebirth from the supposedly more primitive "Dark Ages" (Middle Ages). Many historians now prefer to use the term "Early Modern" for this period, a more neutral designation that highlights the period as a transitional one between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Others such as Roger Osborne have come to consider the Italian Renaissance as a repository of the myths and ideals of western history in general, and instead of rebirth of ancient ideas as a period of great innovation