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Origins and History of  the Italian Renaissance

Until the Middle Ages men regarded themselves as following the Good Shepherd, and art consequently did not recognize the individual in particular. In the structure and position of  the figures, as in their expression, a general and uniform type of beauty prevailed. The early Renaissance marks the victory of individualism and the uncompromising prominence of he individual.  Renaissance historian Jacob Burckhardt asserted "Freed from the countless bonds which elsewhere in Europe checked progress, having reached a high degree of individual development and been schooled by the teachings of antiquity, the Italian mind now turned to the discovery of the outward universe, and to the representation of it in speech and form."

 Artist were elevated in social standing and their art was looked upon not as simple crafts, but as divinely inspired creations. The spirit of an era awoke, revitalized with knowledge and creativity. Paintings of the High Renaissance are intensely dramatic and sumptuously dazzling. The highly valued synthesis of science, art, geometry and the natural world.  The techniques used by painters of the High Renaissance were quite innovative in themselves. Their use of luminous colors used in combination  with newly developed oil mediums gave a unique vividness to their paintings. Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci would not hesitate to directly sketch a reeking, decomposing human corpse for the purpose of making detailed realistic studies.

According to Richard Muther" An abundance of sharply outlined characters suddenly appears, robust, clear-cut personalities; lawless nature belonging just as much in the gallery of criminals as in that of great men. Character, individuality, power and energy are the passwords of the Renaissance age.  This new humanity, all these rugged and manly figures which the age had created, had also to appear in painting. In contrast to the former preference for beauty of an angelic and tender type, the problem now was to depict energetic and powerful beings; and to replace shy and feminine, though bearded, men in the pictures of the older masters by angular, harsh determined and daring types. The figures which has formerly hovered like spirits above the earth had now to stand firmly upon their own feet and become part of their earthly home." --

The Greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance

The Greatest Artists of the  Italian Renaissance

Michelangelo Italian, 1573-1610 High Renaissance

Titian Italian, 1490-1564 High Renaissance

Leonardo Da Vinci Italian, 1452-1519 High Renaissance

Raphael Italian, 1483 - 1520 High Renaissance

Paolo Veronese Italian, 1528-1588 High Renaissance

Jacob Tintoretto Italian, 1518-1594 High Renaissance

Giotto Bondone Italian,  1267-1337

Andrea del Verrocchio Italian, 1435-1488

Sandro Botticelli Italian, 1445-1510

Sano di Pietro Italian, 1406-1481

Donatello Italian 1386-1466

Mantegna 1431-1506

Piero della Francesca,  1418- 1492





Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists,  sfumato, symbolism, chiaroscuro, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscript,  idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, illuminator, plague, Age of Discovery, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and  light,  Bonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism.

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References -The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt

-- Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896