Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Unit 5 - Chapter 10 - The 15th century in Europe. DVD 5 - The Early Renaissance in Italy

I went back to reading then watching this time - mainly because I need more time when reading and I had a time slot I could do it in.  I am also reading Michael Baxandall's Painting and Experience in 15th century Italy.  I will add some of my notes from this but haven't finished it yet.

Historical Background
Renaissance - literally the 'rebirth' of learning and culture. 
Renaissance mainly took off in Florence.  Florence recovered well economically from the black death and became a major city state.  The money lenders lent all over Europe and the merchants were trading all over too.  Things were changing - previously there was the aristocracy the church and everyone else (the workers)
but now merchants were starting to make a lot of money and become more influential - able to vote etc.  These wealthy were able to pay for art - changed things. 

Humanists (still religious at this time not agnostic/atheist) had new values and ideas interest in classical Greek and Roman philosophy, arts, culture and ideas. They felt that 'individual prowess and intellectual ability' was more important than birthright.

Renaissance man - "The mortal who achieves immortality through his own efforts." (World History of Art page 435)

Visual Arts
to start - still mostly public religious works.  Materials important - had contracts stating which materials to be used and quality of them.  Artists told strictly what to paint and how. 
moved on - more private works being commissioned.  Mostly religious but some portraits, landscapes, mythological.  Contracts now show that artists more important - specifies that the named artist must paint certain bits, must be present etc.

Shift in patronage from public to private - portrayal of real people (the patrons and friends, family etc)

Becoming a lot more naturalistic and lifelike - e.g the saints now look like people and part of the scene rather than so saintly and on the edge - also all shown to same scale rather than previously when diff scales to show importance.  Linear perspective used.  Landscapes used for backgrounds rather than gold - makes whole thing seem more real. 

Oil painting was developed in this time too - more in Flemish art though rather than Floriscan

Medals - as art form not prize!  profile portrait on front and allegorical scene on back - private works of art only understood by educated elite.  " intended to stimulate philosophical thought, just as religious images inspired devotion" (world history of art page 435)

Mother and Child - so much call for artists to depict that madonnieri a specific style was developed.  (These were much more natural and realistic than Gothic works - no halos!)

Reasons for images in church - popular contemporary preacher said
  1. For illiterate to learn the scriptures
  2. might be bored by what they hear so more interested in seeing
  3. DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES!!! Some can't remember what they hear but can what they see. 
Tapestries - private art for houses - more expensive than paintings (not the case these days!)

Astrology - previously condemned by church but by 12C so influential it was tolerated.  Courts had own astrologers.  Signs of zodiac appear a lot.

Main characteristics of Renaissance Art
  • Spatial clarity and perspective
  • naturalistic landscape background
  • Greek/Roman architectural decoration and motifs
  • Idealised human - harmoniously proportioned
Move towards more simply buildings and classical styling.  Away from fancy pants Gothic styles.  Partly through humanist ideals and also because of lack of money so can't afford all the ornate bits anymore.

Building of Florence cathedral - amazing to get dome up - had to get loads of people on board to try and work out how. 

Now becoming known, famous, respected - mostly in Italy before rest of Europe
Brunellechi - invented linear perspective - scientifically measurable - raised art of painting to a science.
Masaccio - used perspective, put light source into pics (sometimes as if from actual light source too I think) had shadows - more real and less staged
Alberti -  Renaissance man! - "moralist, lawyer, poet, playwright, musician, mathematician, scientist, painter, sculptor and  aesthetic theorist." WOW!!!!! (World history of art - page 431)  Came up with 'laws of nature' a rational theory of beauty
Donatello -  sculptor - 'revitalised every form of sculpture from free-standing monuments to low reliefs" (WHoA page 433)  Link to Michaelangelo - his pupil was di Givanni who was Michaelangelo's master.
Boticelli - started as goldsmith - lack of money for gold - moved to painting.  His Primavera (The Spring) one of earliest important non religious paintings.

Patrons/Commissions etc Baxandall's book talks about the relationship between patron and artist
Private patrons wanting good quality/beautiful works - reasons for commissioning art...
  • an outlet for the pleasure of spending money
  • virtue of donating to public places/churches
  • enjoyment of looking at beautiful things
Some patrons paid by square foot and some paid for materials and time
All art (except some cheaper mother and child etc works) was commissioned and then produced with often v strict guidelines about what needed to be done.  Artists didn't decide what to do themselves - worked to instructions.
Materials decided in contract - e.g 4 florin an ounce ultramarine for virgin but only 2 florin an ounce for others.
from 1450ish became more interested in the artist


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