High Renaissance Movement and Its Most Celebrated Artists
The Renaissance is referred to as a period of time where there was a great cultural movement that began in Italy during the early 1300's. It spread into other countries such as England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. This era continued into the late 1400's and ended during the 1600's. The Renaissance times were a period of rebirth and during this time many artists studied the art of ancient Greece and Rome. Their desire was to recapture the spirit of the Greek and Roman cultures in their own artistic, literary, and philosophic works. The cultures of ancient Greece and Rome are often called classical antiquity. The Renaissance thus represented a rebirth of these cultures and is therefore also known as the revival of antiquity or the revival of learning.
The artists' works include many aspects of the medieval times and incorporated a religious aspect that included God, salvation, while also concentrating on the possibility of saving their souls. Paintings included images that were often filled with religious overtures and evil temptations. Dark colors were incorporated and area also characteristic of the Renaissance period. Artists included human figures within their paintings that looked stiff and unrealistic and often served symbolic, religious purposes. However, the Renaissance artists stressed the beauty of the human body, many times painting nude forms. Their desire was to capture the poise and splendor of human beings in lifelike paintings and sculptures.
Three men dominated the art world of the 1400's. They were Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Their work was revolutionary of the time and still influences many aspects of our world today. These artists not only painted, but they also were brilliant in the areas of architecture, engineering, and provided early insight and genius in the future world of inventions.
Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452. He was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero da Vinci who was a well-known notary in Florence. Leonardo was an only child and was solely raised by his father.
Leonardo is remembered as a person who was attractive, had unusual physical strength and a quick intelligence. After Leonardo was grown, he studied with Verrocchio, a popular sculptor and painter for the times, for several years all the while learning the fundamentals of painting and sculpting. Leonardo developed a characteristic soft focus on backgrounds that were accomplished with drapery, foliage while creating lovely and original artwork. His word typically entailed the beauty of nature while focusing on the colors that God created. He focused on discovering each aspect of everything he saw in nature.
Leonardo Da Vinci is notable for being the "archetypal Renaissance Man" with critics often labeling Leonardo as a "jack of all trades, master of none" (Biography Resource Center, 2004). Leonardo had one of the most inquiring minds in all history. He is deemed a genius whose talent laid in many creative areas and included art, engineering, architecture, and invention. He is best known for his paintings of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. While his production of art was not by the masses, his influence was great and his artistic breakthroughs in perspective and in shading quite literally changed the vision of future painters. Da Vinci appeared to critics to squander his talents as he continued his on-going search for self-expression. He was a man before the times and his imagination included many realities of today. The world continues to marvel as his advanced knowledge and his methods of self-learning that still amaze and mystify the intellect of today. His intellectual contributions include the scientific realm, and his insistence that that art should "possess knowledge of nature or else he would be a mere draughtsman" (Biography Resource Center, 2004). Leonardo also wrote a treatise on art and left behind thousands of pages of drawings in areas such as architecture, botany, physics, engineering, cartography, and anatomy. His notebooks contain over 4,000 pages where he drew very detailed diagrams and wrote down notes on his observations. Precise drawings were created by Leonardo, and included human skeletons and muscles. He viewed the body as a mechanism and his great curiosity endowed him with an insight to anatomy. His investigations included unknown the areas of human reproduction and embryology and the circulation of the blood. He has become a symbol of the Renaissance character of learning and intellectual interest. The search continues in hopes of discovering more writings that would help scholars break the "Da Vinci Code" hidden within his numerous notebooks. Today's researchers treasure this mysteriously rich gift, and his collection of notebooks contain a spider-like, mirror text that is still being translated five centuries after his death.
Da Vinci balanced compositions and idealized figures influenced both Raphael and Michelangelo. While they were both well-known in their own time, Da Vinci did not gain such favor until much later after his death. Raphael was one of the greatest and most influential painters of the Italian Renaissance. His graceful figures and skillful compositions influenced artists up to the early 1900's. Raphael was born in Urbino as Raffaello Sanzio. His father was in service to the Duke of Urbino as a court painter. Raphael studied painting with the artist Perugia who introduced Raphael to the latest ideas in Italian art and greatly influenced his student's style.
Raphael went to Rome upon request to work for Pope Julius II. He was to rebuild and redecorate Rome with the notion to reflect it's ancient glory. Raphael comprised a team of the most notable architects, painters, and sculptors throughout Italy during that time. Raphael created his finest work during this period, creating religious paintings, designing tapestries, decorating the palace, and creating portraits. Raphael painted altarpieces with a technique where he painted upon damp plaster and is known as frescoes. These included historically religious and mythological scenes, and portraits. Some of his most popular work included that which adorns the pope's private quarters within the Vatican. Raphael painted several frescoes in a room called the Stanza della Segnatura where he designed each wall in the room to have an arch that helps to support the curved ceiling. Raphael was a genius in this endeavor to incorporate this architectural feature into his compositions.
Many scholars differ on the aspect of Raphael's contribution to the history of High Renaissance architecture. While it can be said that he was not a professional architect, he became known as "the greatest living and practicing architect" (Biographical Resource Center, 2004). Raphael ability to represent space and an extraordinarily rich and complex background for his figures displays Raphael's understanding Renaissance architecture and is distinguished by the survival of his architectural collections.
Raphael's paintings are softer in outline and more poetic than those of Michelangelo and he was also more skilled in creating perspective and in the delicate use of color. He produced many beautiful pictures of the Madonna. One of his greatest works is the fresco known as the School of Athens created around 1511. The classical Greek and Roman philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, stand in the center of the painting, beneath arches. This work was influenced by Michelangelo Sistine Chapel ceiling, and includes a powerful and impressive presence. However, Raphael's ability to harmonize the arrangement of space with the figures created a balance for which he is noted. His insight into the high Renaissance of the era was created the connection between the culture of classical antiquity and the Italian culture of his time. His most popular works include his gentle paintings of the Madonna and Child. He was also talented as an architect and was instrumental in directing the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Michelangelo was one of the most famous artists of the Renaissance period. His works lie greatly with the creation of large marble statues, but he is also known as a great poet, painter and architect. Michelangelo excelled as a painter, architect, and poet while also being known as "The greatest sculptor in history" (Biography Resource Center, 2004). His masterful talent allowed him to portray the human figure in an overwhelming impression that depicted physical power and spiritual strength. Examples of these qualities can be seen in his creations of the frescoes depicting both Biblical and classical subjects painted upon the Vatican's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The frescoes, painted from 1508 to 1512, are ranked among the greatest achievements of High Renaissance art (Summers, 2004)
Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6, 1475 to a respectable Florence family in the village of Caprese.
His father was a government agent and this allowed Michelangelo the opportunity to experience a classical education that dealt with the literature, art, and life of ancient Greece and Rome. When he was 12 years old, Michelangelo became an apprentice to the most popular painter in Florence, Domenico Ghirlandajo (Summers, 2004). He soon halted his painting efforts to concentrate on sculpting and studied under the guidance of a student of Donatello, a renowned sculptor of the time. Michelangelo…