The renaissance was a period between 1400 to 1650 where the influences in art, philosophy, and literature extended far beyond the bounds of what they’d ever been before to include new theories and styles which give character to this all new classical model. The actual term renaissance means the revival of art and literature under civilized terms in Europe extending from the 14th to the 17th century. It was also characterized by an overwhelming theme of renewal of life, character, or a rebirth.
Throughout this period of a new eruption of beliefs there was yet another type of belief which got its start in ancient Greece and was making its way back into the minds and beliefs of modern man. The idea of humanism which began with protagoras states that man is the measure of all things, or in simple terms, man is the center of the universe which under some circumstances is defined as a universe without any form of God. A type of art which would drastically change styles of artists for years to come was a style called mannerism. It came to be around 1520 and was characterized by a scheme of depth and posing usually accented by dark colors.
This alone would be a great asset to the rest of the world when it came to artistry. Three of the most influential men of the Renaissance who we still hail with awes at the sight of their work today would be known by many as the High Renaissance Triad made up of Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. During this time the city of Athens would remain the center of the idea of humanism applying the title Renaissance Humanism to the philosophical and cultural movement only known of today because it extended across all of europe throughout the 15th century.
This movement is what mainly ended the middle ages and led the world into the modern era of art and philosophy. The men who led this “Renaissance Humanism” were inspired by none-other than the ancient Greek texts of Athens as well as Rome dating back a thousand years which described a different vision set apart from the Christian world view which had come to dominate the concrete way of thinking of the current time period. Humanism was reinvented in the 14th century due to the findings of a man named Francesco Petrarch which quickly came to be known as the “Father of Humanism. His ability to instill a sense of hope in humanity through his talk of humanism is what eventually became his defining characteristic. He was the son of exiled nobles, yet he was treated like royalty in a world where compassion and a sense of well-being was hard to come by. He goes as far to say to a friend in a letter that he caused his very own plague in all of Europe of people feeling a need to pick up the pen and learn to read and write and make an impact on their current time, therefore successfully ending the dark ages.
While the renaissance itself focused achievement on what other people could do and praised others for their talents, humanism was all about the praise and betterment of oneself. For instance, the idea of perfecting oneself through practice and thought was becoming much more of a reality while perfection through the grace of God was beginning to become a glimpse of the past. All of this one-sided talk is what started to strain the relationship between humanists and Christians. The art form of mannerism first began in Florence, Italy as well as Rome.
This art form of the 16th and 17th century came about when Michelangelo and other artists of the time would be left with no idea of where to go with their sculptures and paintings. Once it spread all throughout Europe there was no stopping it. Mannerism marks the end of the renaissance period of art. Throughout the time of the high renaissance all of the world’s art was graceful, and balanced, getting it’s livelihood from distinct colors and portraits and even detailed sculptures telling a story. Mannerism gave birth to a new and much more abstract form of art.
Artists painted portraits with clashing colors and unaltered looking mistakes while sculptors changed their form of the body to look much more strained and not as legitimate looking of real people. The art simply became an idea in the artists mind and was given life through their belief in it. In contrast with the high renaissance art the European people did not accept the newly formed style and continued to appreciate a more well-balanced and elegant form of art which artists such as Da Vinci were most revered for.
Overall, the manneristic form of art came and went very quickly in the European eye. Possibly the most influential man in the world at his time of existence was that of Leonardo Da Vinci. He was an Italian whose quest for knowledge and beauty landed him the title of the most prestigious human alive in the time of the Renaissance. He reveled in the idea of humanistic renaissance and believed through the use of thought man could overcome any barriers he was put in throughout his life.
He was revered especially for his inventive ingenuity single-handedly conceptualizing the ideas of the helicopter, solar power, and even the theory of plate tectonics. He was a modern day genius who also had a taste for beauty. His art, along with that of Michelangelo, remains the most sought after pieces of artwork in the entire world. His two best pieces are that of the last supper and mona lisa. There is no doubt that his ingenuity changed today’s world for the better.
Yet another well known painter of the renaissance is that of Raphael who made up the third part of the high renaissance triad. He was also an Italian painter and architect during the time of the renaissance possessing an abnormally large workshop, yet admired for many of his achievements in his short life. He died at the age of 37 only after completing his most glorious piece of work. The painting known as “The School of Athens” is located in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura and may be among the best work ever done by any painter.
His style was much more peaceful compared to that of Michelangelo. Speaking of Michelangelo, his full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and he is considered to one of the greatest artists to have ever lived and was possibly the most influential artist of his time. He was also an Italian and among his greatest works were the sculpture of the Statue of David as well as the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He also pioneered the mannerist style and completed both of his most esteemed works by the time he was 30.
The world is an ever-changing place of ideas and views and the renaissance period is of great testament to that. Except we have visual proof of what those changes in viewpoints looked like which accurately portray thoughts and history. Thanks to men like Da Vinci and Raphael we were given world altering breakthroughs and concepts still used today. The renaissance helped shape society into the artistic, hopeful, and believing people who live in it today and without those men, our existence here on this Earth might have been completely different.