Things to know about Renaissance art:
- Realism: Perspective, chiaroscuro (shading), human models and realistic emotion
- It was work for hire, paid commissions. This means that the subject matter was usually chosen by the patron, not the artist. Lots of portraits.
- A lot of Renaissance art was religious in nature. This comes from the fact that the Catholic Church was an important part of people’s lives, as a religion (99+% of Western Europeans were Roman Catholic), as a wealthy institution in its own right and as a center of civic life.
- It was rarely solo work: artists had assistants, apprentices, etc., who did everything ranging from posing, to collecting plants and minerals to mix paint colors, to the sketching and execution of portions of the paintings (usually minor figures, scenery, etc).
Here are a few works from the Web Gallery of Art for you to look over, which we will discuss.
- Fra Angelico’s The Last Judgement (1432-1435)
- Sandro Botticelli’s drawings for Dante’s Divine Inferno
- Leonardo da Vinci’s 1490s work, including the Last Supper (here’s The Last Supper in more detail) and Post-1500 work, including Mona Lisa.
- Michaelangelo’s David and Last Judgement, from the Sistine Chapel (And a moveable 3-d version)
- Raphael’s Saints killing Dragons, and portraits
- Hieronymous Bosch’s Seven Deadly Sins and Last Judgement
- Pieter Bruegel, the elder, various paintings
- Albrecht Durer’s Apocalypse (Revelation of St. John)
Some things to think about:
- Are the stories told by this art the same as those told in the Bible? If not, how has the artist reimagined or changed the stories?
- Are these works realistic?
- How do you think viewers of the 15th and 16th centuries would view these works?
© 2006-2007 Jonathan Dresner