The Renaissance in Quattrocento Italy
What all transpired to form the Renaissance?
The fortunate congruence of artistic genius, the spread of humanism, and economic prosperity nourished the flowering of the new artistic culture that historians call the Renaissance – the rebirth of classical values in art and life.
The greatest center of Renaissance art in the 15th-century was
Florence, home of the powerful Medici, who were among the most ambitious art patrons in history.
Some of the earliest examples of new Renaissance style in sculpture are
the statues of Nanni di Banco and Donatello made for Or San Michele.
Donatello’s Saint Mark
reintroduced the classical concept of contrapposto into Renaissance statuary. His later David was the first nude male statue since antiquity. Donatello was also a pioneer in relief sculpture, the first to incorporate the principles of linear and atmospheric perspective, devices also employed brilliantly by Lorenzo Ghiberti in his Gates of Paradise for the Florentine Baptistery.
The Renaissance interest in classical culture naturally also led to the
revival of Greco-Roman mythological themes in art, for example Antinio del Pollaiuolo’s Hercules and Antaeus, and to the revival of equestrian portraits, such as Donatello’s Gattamelata and Andrea del Verrocchio’s Bartolommeo Colleoni.
Masaccio broke from the Late Gothic International style
His figures recall Giotto’s, but have greater psychological and physical credibility, adn the lighting shining on Masaccio’s figures comes from a source OUTSIDE the picture. His Holy Trinity epitomizes Early Renaissance painting in its convincing illusionism, achieved through Filippo Brunelleschi’s new science of linear perspective, yet it remains effective as a devtional painting in a church setting.
The secular side of Quattrocento Italian painting is on display in historical works such as
Paolo Uccello’s Battle of San Romano and Domenico Ghirlandaio’s portrait Giovanna Tornabuoni. The humanist love of classical themes comes to the fore in the works of Sandro Boticelli, whose lyrical Primavera and Birth of Venus were inspired by poetry and Neo-Platonic philosophy.
Italian architects also revived the classical style. Burnelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti showcases
the clarity and Roman-inspired rationality of the 15th-century Florentine architecture. The model for Leon Battista Alberti’s influential 1450 treatise On the Art of Building was a similar work by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius.
Although the Florentine artists lead the way in creating the Renaissance in art and architecture, the
papacy in Rome and the princely courts in Urbino, Mantua, and elsewhere also were major art patrons.
Among the important papal commissions of the Quattrocento was the decoration of the walls of the ______ chapel with frescoes, including Perugion’s Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter, a prime example of linear perspective.
Under the patronage of ______, Urbino became a
Federico da Montefeltro, major center of Renaissance art and culture.
The leading painter in Federico da Montefeltro’s employ was
Piero dell Francesca, a master of color and light and the author of the first theoretical treatise on perspective.
Mantua became an important art center under
Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga, who commissioned Alberti to rebuild the church of Santa’ Andrea. Alberti applied principles he developed in his architecture treatise to the project and freely adapted forms from the Roman religious and civic architecture.
Gonzaga hired Andrea Mantegna to decorate the Camera Picta of the ducal palace, in which the painter produced the first completely consistent
illusionistic decoration of an entire room.