Tradition in the Middle Ages and Innovation

High School ・Art ・MLA ・1 Sources

Christian religious figures largely represented art in the middle ages, with major prominence on architecture. The assimilation of religion into art was mainly on the account of religious influence from the church onto the community (Burkhardt 14). It was unfamiliar to see paintings of naked people or mythology figures. With the emergence of the 15 C artists began to incorporate everyday activities such as eating or reading into their art. Art then became more disposed towards ancient Greece with the fading away of castles that were impacted by religion, being replaced by the development of cities. The merchants then adopted the native language and teamed up against foreign entrants in addition to artists who started forming associations to protect their interests.

During this period, artists began inputting personal features to their artworks. The 15 C paintings were notable for being natural and realistic through the use of perspective in addition to having cheerful and light-heartedness moments. In the first half of the 15 C, big altar paintings were common although the paintings showed groups of people appearing rigid in symmetry (Burkhardt 34). Examples of masterpieces during this period include “the birth of Venus” by Sandro Boticelli and frescoes about St James’s life by Mategna.

In the 15 C, there was a marked difference between the North and South in both architecture and art. Common in the North were Gothic architecture which strongly portrayed houses of worship and a number of different inventions in decoration for example the French Flamboyant style and Perpendicular style in England (Burkhardt 45). Artists in the North began making detailed art to reflect nature. Painters in the North reflected joviality in their works. In the South, architecture was primarily renaissance and more inclined to concern with secular life (Burkhardt 47). This form of art can be traced to Florence and Rome in Italy, Nurnberg in Germany. The development of press printing made it possible to print pictures which further led to the rise of playing cards and saint pictures which led to artists showing how detailed and observant they were in there work. The printing press brought about more advanced forms of art such as copper engraving that gave more details (Burkhardt 81).

The High Renaissance was a result of some of the greatest artists ever seen from Leonardo Da Vinci, to Michelangelo, and Rafaello. Notable for their work includes the architect Bramante who proposed the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica representing a Greek cross plan, with a huge dome at the center resting on arches (Burkhardt 14). Leonardo is known for one of the most famous portraits existing, the Mona Lisa. He’s also credited for the painting, the Last Supper capturing the moment just after Christ informs his disciples that one of them will betray him (Burkhardt 15). Another artist was Michelangelo, known for his work on the Sistine Chapel where he spent four years painting the ceiling (Burkhardt 16). Rafaello Santi portrayed the high Renaissance through ease of composition and clear paintings depicting grandness and realistic values (Burkhardt 17). Several new discoveries were made in the field of science during this period and artists expressed their work liberally. They didn’t ply their trade based on what the rich wanted them to do usually didn’t charge for their services. Italian masters had a big influence on the Renaissance artists by use of ancient orders and approaches such harmony, uniformity and the use of right proportions following the footsteps of Vitruvius.

Venice and Florence were among the important cities that accelerated Renaissance. Venice was slow in embracing Renaissance compared with other cities due to its undeniably progressive economically and technologically advanced state. Venice with its blue lagoons and canals had links with Constantinople through the increasingly use of prized colors such as gold and ultramarine blue seen through works such as the Library of St. Marco. Paintings in Venice were strikingly bright, shiny and splendid colors. They were also based on reality particularly the works of Bellini, Giorgino and Titian.

Italian culture influenced artists in the North as a result of the great achievements and inventions that came out of it. Three main areas influenced artists in the North. These were mainly scientific outlook, knowledge of anatomy and traditional forms of construction. Artists such as Albrecht Durer journeyed south to learn about renaissance and when he went back North to Germany he had gained technical knowhow in wood cutting. Similarly, Jan van Eyck journeyed from his native Netherlands where he gained a lot of experience (Burkhardt 78). Nevertheless, artists from Netherlands refused to be drawn to the renaissance era art. Very little is known about Hieronymus Bosch who became well known for frightening images depicting the powers of evil.

After 1520, artists attempted to copy the style of previous masters such as Michelangelo but the results were comical. Most of the paintings depicted scenes where people were crowded out. Newer artists attempted to appeal to people by creating their works less natural and balanced than the works of great masters of the past. In their attempts to appeal to people, the young artists work often resulted in some pleasing pieces of work that was more inclined towards innovation than the common purpose of architecture, for example, Villa Rotonda by Andrea Palladio (Burkhardt 89).

Mannerism arose during the final years of the High Renaissance period. In this period, painting, literature and scientific thought began to transform. Individual artists were free to imitate previous master artists such as Michelangelo and create an extremely personal understanding of art. In addition, Mannerism focused on disproportion and human being not being at the center of everything contrary to the High Renaissance period which was characterized by faultless proportion and human beings at the middle of all that occurred around the world. Example of Mannerism paintings includes Parmigianino's Madonna with a very unrealistic long neck and Benvenuto Cellini with his Salt Cellar (Burkhardt 88). These ideas of disproportion are in stark contrast to Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo who created the piece “David” that showed man as being perfect proportional (Burkhardt 100). In many Protestant countries, artists were forced to depend on book illustrations and portrait painting as a source of income for a number of Protestants were opposed to pictures or figurines of saints in churches. Netherlands was the exception as a Protestant country as art survived Reformation. Netherlands had been renowned for perfect imitation of nature through their patience and accuracy in representing nature.

Works Cited

Burkhardt, Jacob. Civilization of the Renaissance. New York: Penguin, 2000.Print

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