The portrait in Renaissance Italy

от: 2019-04-18 13:00    до: 2019-04-19 12:00

The Renaissance is an epoch of world importance in the cultural history of Europe, which occurred immediately after the Middle Ages and preceded the epochs of the Enlightenment and the New Age. It originated in Italy in the 13th-14th centuries and that is why the country is often called the Cradle of the Renaissance. In a later period, Renaissance principles and values penetrated into other countries of the Old Continent.

Murals from the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo

To understand this trend in art, we must connect it with a number of historical and economic changes - the fall of the Byzantine Empire with its hierarchical value system and the emergence of cities - republics. The socio-philosophical movement humanism was born, considering man, his personality, freedom, his active creative activity as a supreme value and criterion for the evaluation of public institutions. Secular centers of science and the arts are emerging in the cities, the activities of which are beyond the control of the church. After the invention of printing in Europe in the 15th century, the spread of these new views became particularly intense.

The Athens School, Raphael

The man in the Renaissance

David, Michelangelo

This man is very different from the medieval one. He is characterized by faith in the power of reason and admiration for the inexplicable gift of creativity. Humanism focuses on the wisdom of man and his achievements as the highest good for the rational being. This is what leads to the rapid flourishing of science.

David, Donatello

It is customary to denote the periodization by the Italian names of the centuries:

Proto-Renaissance / Ducento / - the second half of the 13th to 14th century.

Early Renaissance / third / - the beginning of the 14th to the end of the 15th century

High Renaissance / quatrocento / - the end of the 15th to the 20s of the 16th century

Late Renaissance / Cinquecento / - the middle to the end of the 16th century

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci


The Proto-Renaissance is a forerunner of the Renaissance and still has a visible connection with the Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic traditions. It is divided into two periods - until the death of the muralist Giotto di Bondone in 1337 and after. The second section is related to the plague epidemic that struck Italy and to Niccolo Pisano, who revolutionized sculpture.

Giotto di Bondone is the most radical reformer in painting. He achieved such strength in the clash of contrasts and transmission of human feelings that he became the forerunner of the greatest masters of the Renaissance.

The kiss of Judas, Giotto

Madonna di Castelfiorentino, Chimabue

Niccolo Pisano established a school that lasted for almost a century, until the middle of the 14th century

Christ and the Last Judgment, Niccolo Pisano

Early revival

In the first decades of the 15th century, the emergence of a powerful hearth of the Renaissance in Florence led to a renewal of the entire Italian art culture. The work of Donatello, Masacho and their associates marked the victory of Renaissance realism, which differs significantly from the so-called "realism of detail", characteristic of the late third. Equestrian statue of condottiere Gatamelata, Donatello Expulsion from heaven, Masacho

The works of these masters are imbued with the ideals of humanism. They glorify and glorify man, elevate him above the level of ordinaryness. In their struggle with the traditions of Gothic, artists of the early Renaissance sought support in antiquity and the art of the Proto-Renaissance. What Proto-Renaissance artists are intuitively looking for is now based on accurate knowledge.

The Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti, The Baptistery in Florence

Equestrian statue of condottiere Coleone, Andrea Verocchio

Italian art from the 15th century is very diverse due to the different conditions in which local schools are born and various artistic trends are created.

Portrait of a young man, Fra Filippo Lippi

An old man with his grandson, Domenico Garlandaio

Portrait of a young man, Domenico Garlandaio

Portraits of Duke Federico da Montefeltro and Duchess Batista Sforza, Piero della Francesca

Portrait of Cardinal Lodovico Mezzarota, Andrea Mantegna

Portrait of Lorenzo di Credi, Pietro Perugino

High revival

The culmination of art from the 15th and the first decades of the 16th century coincided with the concentration of Italian artistic life in the capital Rome. The popes are trying to unite Italy under the rule of Rome and the Vatican, making them a leading cultural and political center. Although they did not succeed in the latter, Rome was for a time transformed into a citadel of spiritual culture and art.

Pieta, Michelangelo

High Renaissance artists acquire the ability to miss the small details that do not affect the general meaning and strive to achieve in their works harmony and combination of the best aspects of reality. Giuliano Medici, Michelangelo Lorenzo Medici, Michelangelo

The main motif in the art of the High Renaissance is the image of a harmoniously developed and strong in body and spirit man who is above ordinary everyday life. As sculpture and painting freed themselves from the unquestioning enslavement of construction, new genres in art were formed - easel landscape, historical painting and portrait.

Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci

Portrait of Ginevra dei Benchi, Leonardo da Vinci

Self-portrait, Raphael Sanzio

Portrait of Elizabeth Gonzaga, Raphael Sanzio

Self-portrait, Tiziano Vecelli

Late revival

All the diversity in this period can be reduced to two main trends. In the first of them there are a small number, but famous artists of the older generation, affected by the crisis at the height of their creative development such as Titian and Michelangelo. Because of the deadly blow inflicted on them by Catholic circles, man is no longer necessarily portrayed with the fate of a hero who fights evil.

Portrait of Doge Pietro Loredano, Jacopo Tintoretto

Portrait of a Franciscan monk, Jacopo Basano

Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II Fatih, Paolo Veronese

The representatives of the second direction are completely different from them. They are united only by their subjectivity in the perception of the world. Art in Florence and Rome is still inspired by antiquity, while in Venice it is imbued with love for its city. He is addicted to bright, sometimes even "poisonous" colors, elongation and deformation of figures, experiments with shape, tense and unnatural postures, unusual and bizarre effects related to size, lighting and perspective, overloaded compositions.

Self-portrait in a convex mirror, Francesco Parmigianino

The removal from the cross, Jacopo Pontormo

A young man with a book, Agnolo Bronzino

One of the most wonderful periods in the history and culture of mankind is coming to an end. It is time for humanity to say goodbye to perfect harmony and to meet Mannerism, Baroque and the Age of Enlightenment


Author: Vihra Grigorova