‘Greek Style’ Painting in Renaissance Venice

Many painters in Venetian Crete worked in what was called the “Greek style” and thus retained traits that we can identify with earlier Byzantine icons. By Dr. Andrew CasperAssociate Professor of Art HistoryMiami University, Ohio Seven Hundred Icons, Two Styles The Republic of Venice was a maritime republic that incorporated the city of Venice and[…]

The Black Gondoliers of Renaissance Venice

The presence of Black sub-Saharan Africans in Venice is well-known to historians. The Miracle of the Relic of the Cross at the Rialto Bridge by Vittore Carpaccio, painted around 1495–96, is one of the most fascinating depictions of contemporary life in Renaissance Venice. Although it is primarily a religious painting, it also reveals an aspect[…]

The Role of the Workshop in Italian Renaissance Art

Pressures to elevate the artistic profession began in earnest in the midst of the rising Renaissance era. By Dr. Alexis CulottaProfessor of Practice, Art HistoryTulane University Introduction In the contemporary art world, artists and their workshops enjoy a remarkably symbiotic relationship. Examples abound: artist Jeff Koons, for instance, floods his studio with artists who can fabricate[…]

Benvenuto Cellini’s Salt Cellar Renaissance Sculpture

This was an intellectual conversation starter—filled with meanings waiting to be decoded by an elite, art-literate audience. Introduction When a thief broke into the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 2003, one object in particular caught his attention. The gallery lights glinted off an intricately worked gold and enamel surface—this was the famous salt cellar by[…]

A History of Renaissance Architecture

Renaissance architecture was an evolving movement that is, today, commonly divided into three phases: Early, High, and Mannerism. Introduction Renaissance architecture originated in Italy and superseded the medieval Gothic style over a period generally defined as 1400 to 1600 CE. Features of Renaissance buildings include the use of the classical orders and mathematically precise ratios of height and[…]

The Rise of Renaissance Humanism in the 14th Century

Humanists believed in the importance of an education in classical literature and the promotion of civic virtue. Introduction Renaissance Humanism was a movement in thought, literature, and art, typified by a revival in interest in the classical world and studies which focussed not on religion but on what it is to be human. With its origins in 14th-century CE Italy and such authors as Petrarch (1304-1374 CE) who[…]

Raffaello Sanzio: An Introduction to Renaissance Artist Raphael

He embodied the ideal of sprezzatura (the appearance of nonchalant effortlessness in his creative process). Introduction Raffaello Sanzio, better known simply as Raphael, enjoyed a meteoric career. An impeccable professional artist and a consummate courtier, Raphael was famed both for his artistic skill and his charismatic personality. From his beginnings as a local painter in[…]

‘Il Divino’: Who Was Renaissance Artist Michelangelo?

He was mythologized by followers, emulated by artists, celebrated by humanists, and patronized by a total of nine popes. Introduction Michelangelo Buonarotti—the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, and poet—was called “Il Divino” (The Divine One) by his contemporaries because they perceived his artworks to be otherworldly. His art was in high demand, and thought to[…]

Copies and Fakes in Art during the Renaissance

It was perhaps inevitable that the distinction between original and copy became blurred in the Renaissance art world. Introduction The Renaissance period witnessed a great renewed interest in the art of antiquity. There was an appreciation of the technical skill required to produce such objects as a Roman marble figure of Venus and an admiration for[…]

Color and Technique in Renaissance Painting

These expensive commodities were one of the major assets of a workshop. Introduction There were three principal painting techniques during the Renaissance: fresco, tempera, and oils. In all of these techniques, colour was an important part of the painter’s armoury, allowing them to create images that would strike a chord of recognition and pull a gasp of awe[…]

Life in a Renaissance Artist’s Workshop

They were places where ideas were experimented with and where new trends could be studied, discussed, and employed. Introduction The majority of great Renaissance works of art were produced in large and busy workshops run by a successful master artist and his team of assistants and apprentices. Here, too, more mundane art was produced in[…]

The Printing Revolution in Renaissance Europe

Ideas were transmitted across Europe as scholars published their own works, commentaries on ancient texts, and criticism of each other. Introduction The arrival in Europe of the printing press with moveable metal type in the 1450s CE was an event which had enormous and long-lasting consequences. The German printer Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468 CE) is[…]

Medieval Factors That Set the Stage for the Renaissance

Exploring some changes in European life that led to the Renaissance. Introduction Much of the power in Europe from the 1300s to the 1600s lay in three major areas: the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, and the Holy Roman Empire. During these years, Italy was not the unified country it is today. Instead, it[…]

Leading Figures of the Renaissance

From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Europe crackled with energy. Introduction The period in Europe known as the Renaissance began in Italy around 1300. From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Europe crackled with energy. Trade and commerce boomed. Cities grew. Artists and writers experimented with their crafts and created wonderful works of art[…]

Florence: The Cradle of the Renaissance

Exploring the Italian city-state of Florence to learn about a number of advances made there during the Renaissance. Introduction Florence is located on the Arno River, just north of central Italy. The city is often called the “cradle of the Renaissance.” Between 1300 and 1600, it was home to some of the greatest artists and[…]

Art and Science in Renaissance Italy

The increased study of plants for artistic purposes during the Renaissance led to the development of the modern field of botany. Early Renaissance Italy witnessed a remarkable flowering of the arts and sciences. Humanist scholars looked to medieval libraries to discover works from the past, which they copied, studied and developed in new ways. They[…]

Confronting Power and Violence in the Renaissance Nude

Venus of Urbino, 1538, Titian. Oil on canvas, 47 in x 65 in. Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi. Source: Wikimedia Commons From seductive centerfolds to noble savages, images of the naked human body played a complex and sometimes troubling role in European culture. By Dr. Sherry C.M. Lindquist / 12.04.2018 Dorothy Kayser Hohenberg Chair of Excellence in[…]

Gender Fluidity and Sexual Identity in the Medieval and Renaissance Eras

Bible, about 1280–90, Bologna, Italy. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig I 11, fol. 248v; National Coming Out Day (NCOD) Logo created and donated by Keith Haring to the Human Rights Campaign. Human sexuality and gender identity are complex topics, and our understanding of each is continually expanding and deepening.    By Dr. Bryan C. Keene (left)[…]

Corporate Guild Order Control of the Florentine Republic in the 13th and 14th Century

Palazzo di Medici-Riccardi / Creative Commons The state was merely a product of these guilds with institutions designed to function only in the way these guilds desired. By Milad D. Mohammadi / 08.26.2018 New York University The Renaissance, being a time of great cultural and political change, was a time of significant economic development, particularly in[…]

“God, Power, and Money”: Did Cosimo de’Medici Deceive Renaissance Florence?

Portrait by Jacopo Pontormo; the laurel branch (il Broncone) was a symbol used also by his heirs / Uffizi Gallery, Wikimedia Commons Cosimo needed to present himself as a benevolent figure because it was the only way to expiate his guilt. By Salvatore Coppola[1] / 12.12.2013 Unversidad de Costa Rica In determining whether or not Cosimo de’Medici[…]

Deconstructing Myths about the Nude in Renaissance Art

Madonna and Child Surrounded by Angels (detail), 1454–56, Jean Fouquet. Oil on panel, 36 1/4 x 32 7/8 in. Courtesy of Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. Image © www.lukasweb.be–Art in Flanders vzw, photo Dominique Provost A new exhibition and book explore the complexity of the nude in Renaissance art and the controversies it provoked, revealing[…]

Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome

Same-sex unions are an integral part of the long, complex and hotly contested history of marriage.   Interview of Dr. Gary Ferguson by Dr. Katherine Harvey / 01.19.2017 Ferguson: Douglas Huntly Gordon Distinguished Professor, University of Virginia Harvey: Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London In Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome: Sexuality, Identity, and[…]

Carnal Knowledge: Regulating Sex in England, 1470-1600

Exploring the ways in which the law was used to control sex in late medieval and Tudor England.   Interview of Dr. Martin Ingram by Dr. Katherine Harvey / 02.14.2018 Ingram: Emeritus Fellow in History, Brasenose College, University of Oxford Harvey: Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London Martin Ingram’s book Carnal Knowledge: Regulating Sex[…]

The Age of Enlightenment: An Intellectual Movement of Reason

The Scholar with His Student, Anonymous Flemish painter (circle of Gerard Thomas and Balthasar van den Bossche) / Wikimedia Commons The Enlightenment advocated reason as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, government, and even religion, which would allow human beings to obtain objective truth about the whole of reality. Edited by[…]

Arts of Luxury for the Renaissance Elite

A Tournament Contest from Tournament Book, about 1560–70, unknown illuminator, made in Germany. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XV 14, fols. 27v–28 Manuscripts, stained glass, garments, tapestries, and other precious objects provide a window into the spectacles and social rules that governed life in European courts. By Dr. Larisa Grollemond / 08.27.2018 Assistant[…]

The Late Medieval Art of Domenico Ghirlandaio at the Church of Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella (Leon Battista Alberti was responsible for the façade, completed in 1470) By Dr. Sally Hickson / 08.09.2015 Associate Professor of Art History University of Guelph A treasure house of Renaissance art The Church of Santa Maria Novella, adjacent to the train station of the same name, is a treasure-house of Florentine art of[…]

Leon Battista Alberti and the Basilica of Sant’Andrea in Mantua

Leon Battista Alberti, Basilica of Sant’Andrea, 1472-90, Mantua (Italy) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC: BY-NC-SA 3.0) By Dr. Heather H. Horton / 08.09.2015 Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design Pratt Institute Mantua’s relic In the Fifteenth Century, pilgrims flocked to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea to venerate the most famous relic in the[…]