Renaissance Italy

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." - Michelangelo Buonarroti

Iconographic Analysis Due
Michelangelo, Moses from the Tomb of Pope Julius II, c. 1513 - 1515.











Early Renaissance in Quattrocento Italy


Andrea del Castagno, Last Supper, c. 1445 - 1450.











Sandro Botticelli, Primavera, c. 1482.












Characteristics of Botticelli's Style:
  • Emphasis on drawing and line
  • Outlined figures
  • Shallow modeling / light shading
  • Little concern with deep space
tempra paint
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, c. 1484 - 1486.











  • Renaissance philosophy that liberally merged Christian and pagan doctrine
  • Proposed that all life was linked to God by a spiritual circuit
  • Therefore, all revelation (whether from the Bible, Plato or classic myth) was one
  • Beauty, love and spiritual ecstasy were all the same thing
  • One could attain spiritual ecstasy through the contemplation of beauty











contrapposto = an Italian term meaning "set against," used to describe the twisted pose resulting from parts of the body set in opposition to each other around a central axis
first free-standing life-sized nude sculpture since antiquity
Donatello, David, c. 1446 - 1460.




















Andrea Montegna, Frescoes in the Camera Picta, 1465 - 1474.
Andrea Mantengna, detail of the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi, 1465 - 1474.


Camera degli Sposi = Room of the Newlyweds
first completely illusionistic decoration of an entire room
first "di sotto in su" fresco (from below upwards)










Andrea Mantegna, Dead Christ, c. 1501. Tempera on canvas.











Albrecht Dürer, Artist and model with perspective grid, from Instruction in Measurement
with Compass and Ruler, in Lines, Planes, and Whole Bodies
, 1525.










High Renaissance
1495 - 1520
  • Concept of the "Renaissance ideal" fully adopted by the aristocracy
  • Artists recognized as intellectuals rather than craftsmen
  • Artists receive more commissions from private sources
  • Oil on canvas becomes preferred painting media
Leonardo da Vinci, study for Virgin and Child with St. Anne and John the Baptist, 1499 - 1500.











Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1495 - 1498.