To what extent was the Renaissance in Europe the product of individual creative geniuses? Renaissance is the name of the great intellectual and cultural movement of the revival of interest in classical culture that occurred in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries — a period that saw the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times. The influence of Greek and Latin culture that occurred as a result of the formation of extensive Latin cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean after the 4 th Crusade can be regarded as the basic condition, if not directly the cause, of the Renaissance. Italian life in the 14 th and 15 th centuries was lived among the vast ruins of the ancient Roman Empire. The cruelty and barbarism of Rome had long been forgotten and the splendour of that lost civilisation’s ruins suggested a glorious, golden past. By contrast, the period following the fall of Rome in the 5 th century seemed to some Italian intellectuals and artists to be a period of decline and decay. So, the Renaissance began in Italy, and its first period was marked by a revival of interest in classical literature and the classical ideals.
It was a great revolt against the intellectual sterility of the medieval spirit, and especially against scholasticism. It was in favour of intellectual freedom and its first sign was a passion for the cultural magnitude and richness of the pagan world. There are traces of this revolt in the works of Dante (mid 1200 s to early 1300 s), who, although thoroughly medieval in his sympathies, chose the Roman poet Virgil as his model, and who, in the vigour and magnificence of his own verse, was a striking contrast to his contemporaries and earlier medieval authors. However, Petrarch (early 1300 s to 1380 s) was the first true poet of the Renaissance.
The Medieval and Renaissance periods present two distinct cultures and worldviews in the human development. Unlike the Middle-Ages, several Renaissance scientists desired to learn about the earth apart from the idea of a Divine Creator, and philosophers brought in humanistic thinking. Innovations during this period like the gunpowder, telescope, microscope and the print press changed dramatically ...
His poems written in Latin hexameter followed the classical models of poetry. He travelled to foreign countries and was actually familiar with a larger world than his predecessors. It is said that he rediscovered Greek, which for some six centuries had been lost to the western world. His friend and prot ” eg’e Boccaccio studied that language, and by his master’s advice made a translation of Homer into Latin. The work of humanist scholars, including the revival of the classical languages, enabled men (and less frequently women) of the Renaissance to view and just their own world through the lens of the classical past. The desire to imitate that golden age led ultimate to a more radical desire on the part of Renaissance writers and artists to surpass the achievements of their ancient forebears.
By stressing the innate dignity of man and the value of secular wisdom, humanism provided an impetus for critical enquiry and innovation. The Dutch scholar, Erasmus for example, was able to draw on this tradition in formulating new approaches to religion and biblical scholarship in the early 16 th century. In the process, he, and others like him, laid the ground for one of the most important developments in European history – the Protestant Reformation. The Italian Renaissance was one of the most colourful, vital and exciting times in history. Renaissance essentially was a revival of cultural awareness and learning among art, law, language, literature, philosophy, science and mathematics.
The Renaissance in Italy flourished in the 15 th century and spread through most of Europe in the 16 th century. So, Renaissance Italy became a commercial society and art was a business. In significant ways the status of the artist rose in this period and helped create the individual genius. Before, artists had been seen largely as craftsmen, like masons and carpenters, but leading Renaissance artists insisted they were akin to scholars and intellectuals and the minor artists benefited to some extent from this new perception. Despite this, they were still producing goods for sale in a market economy. Money lay at the heart of the artistic world.
Sandro Botticelli, born Alessandro Mariano Filipepi, was the son of a tanner. He was born in Florence around 1445 and showed a talent for painting at a very early age. Botticelli was first apprenticed under a goldsmith named Sandro, from whom it is believed he derived his nickname. At the age of sixteen, he served an apprenticeship with the painter Fra Filippo Lippi (Durant, 1953). From Lippi he ...
Few men made a fortune from art, but many made a living. It is significant that the art boom of the Renaissance took place in an urban, commercial context and a moneyed society in which capitalist businessmen had surplus cash to dispose of by purchasing works of art. Attention is therefore focussed on the patrons and clients of artists. Patrons are often defined as those who went to an artist and regularly commissioned specific pieces of work. Clients as those who commissioned a single piece or wandered into an artist’s shop and chose a ready-made painting off the wall. There were several major sources of patronage.
First there was the Church. Paintings and sculptures became part of the fabric or furniture of a church. Frescoes were painted directly onto the wall when the plaster was wet and some sculpted stone would be built into the fabric, often around a doorway or into a stone screen. Moveable panel paintings and free-standing statues were important elements of church furniture. Statues were used to focus the devotional thoughts of worshippers and narrative paintings acted as teaching aids by telling stories to those unable to read.
Church money also paid for works of art not in churches; bishops and cardinals had their portraits painted and many popes spent vast sums decorating the Vatican palace. Then in some cities, pre-eminently in Florence, the guilds were major patrons. As well as decorating their guildhalls, most of the Florentine guilds commissioned a statue for one of the niches in the Church of Orsanmichele. The cloth guild took special responsibility for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral and they sponsored a competition for a design for a huge pair of bronze doors depicting stories from the Bible. Not to be outdone, later the Wool Guild – which looked after the Cathedral itself – announced a competition for a design for a cupola (or dome).
Brunelleschi won the competition and went on to design an object of wonder and admiration. There were those people who were not so wealthy as to commission works as individuals, would become part of a contra-fraternity. They would commission a panel painting for the altar on their side chapel in the parish church; on ceremonials days they would carry this painting through the streets of the city as part of a great procession. Communal governments were patrons. Works of art were prestigious and the honour of the city required that its public rooms and squares were decorated with paintings and sculptures from leading artists. As time went on these works were replaced so that the most modern work was always on show to impress visitors.
Art during the Christian tradition was produced to enhance the worship of saintly figures by church patrons. Paintings were not only used to tell a biblical story but also to form emotional connections between the patrons and the principles of the church. Artists in the Christian tradition strived to portray events of religious importance with maximum drama to make a lasting impression. They did ...
Finally, there was court patronage; when a city was ruled by a prince, patronage took rather a different form. Instead of the government commission individual works from artists, a court painter would enter the employment of the prince and be available constant to do whatever was needed. The Gonzaga’s at Mantua enticed Andrea Mantegna from Padua by offering money, good food and accommodation for him and his family. A position as court painter gave an artist security, but limited his freedom.
If his patron had taste then he could build himself a good reputation, but if the prince died he could find himself with an unreasonable one like the Sforza’s in Milan who would want a room painted in one night. So, to conclude, the Renaissance in Europe was equally the product of individual creative geniuses as were the geniuses the product of the Renaissance. They both fed off the excitement and inspiration of each other. The Renaissance came about because Europe needed something to allow themselves to be reborn and so, the intellectuals, the scholars of the time looked back at the past for inspiration to influence a new ‘birth’ of life. The artists, writers etc were encouraged to bring about this new influence and were inspired to create beyond limits previously seen. 1302 words.