Ms. Curry asked me to present information on Renaissance Art and the advancements seen in the Art.  The idea was to create a 30 min presentation of some of the basics.  I do not think I would have all of the time needed to present everything so I’m creating this page with some links to various sites/videos which you can look up at a later date.  So before we get to the obvious art advancements from DaVinci and Michelangelo, we really need to talk about Giotto and the artists/artisans who preceded him.

If you study European/Mediterranean history chronologically, you can and should get caught up in the pre-story.  If you study the Renaissance, you will want to first learn about the Middle Ages.  Prior to the Middle Ages, you will want to learn about the Roman, Greek, Minoans, etc.  History is big and they keep making more of it.  To help with some context, you could review some basic facts with the help of these animations from Youtube.

The Middle Ages in 3 minutes

The Renaissance in 11 minutes:

Religious Art

In past Art classes, I have had students ask why we would look at religious art in school?  I understand this question, but if we are to understand the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, we simply cannot avoid religious themes.  It seems that during this time the majority of Art was either sponsored by the church, or by entities wishing to obtain the favor of the church. 

In the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance the Divine Right to Rule created a close relationship between the church and the ruling classes/government. 

Was this the first time in history that religion reinforced the right of a government to rule?  Think about Egyptian Pharaohs, the gods patronizing Greek City-States, or the deification of Julius Caesar!

Art was made by artisans – not artists.  This is one of the big differences between the middle ages and the Renaissance.  At one time the painter of a mural was no more important than a bricklayer, plumber, or a stone mason.  Artisans belonged to Guilds much like a worker today might belong to a union.  At some point, people noticed that some artisans were better than others.  Improved shading, perspective, and use of color led some of the workers to be sought after and some even started signing their names to their work.  Next thing you know, artists are discovered for their talent and further trained as apprentice to a master. 

Cimabue to Giotto

One important master/apprentice relationship was that of Cimabue to Giotto.  Looking at the work of these two artists can help distinguish the middle ages from the renaissance.  Cimabue was the elder master to Giotto.  Some would call Cimabue the last of the Gothic or Byzantine artists. 

Giotto’s work illustrated improved shading, perspective, and a more human point of view.  Giotto is really the stepping stone from the middle ages to the renaissance.  His advancements in perspective and modeling made his illustrated frescos in the Arena Chapel in Padua thrilling even by today’s standards.   A Kahn Academy analysis of Cimabue's Santa Trinita Madonna & Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna

Arena Chapel 1-4 parts (Keep in mind that Dante’s Divine Comedy was written shortly before this chapel was painted.)

In my presentation, after touching on Cimabue and Giotto, we will look at Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.  If we cannot fit them all in, I may have to come back for a second quick visit!







Middle Ages to Renaissance Notes

Mr. Thies uses this web site to organize information for Art.  Student specific information will be occasionally showcased on Mr. Thies’ CranNet pages.

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