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History of Renaissance Essay


In the world art history, the period of 1400-1500 is referred to as “Renaissance” due to the certain style in painting, sculpture, and architecture, which was preceded by Medieval style and followed by Early Modern European style. However, while nearly everyone knows the features and essence of the Italian Renaissance, the Northern Renaissance associated with France, Burgundy and Flanders are way less recognized in public. Nevertheless, the artists of these countries made significant contributions to world art development, leaving their masterpieces as a priceless heritage for the culture of mankind.

One of the most recognized figures of Northern Renaissance of 1400-1500 is a Flemish painter Jean Van Eyck. His contribution to world art is hard to overestimate, and his works still astonish their viewers. The little number of artist’s paintings are connected with one style and theme. While the Italian Renaissance is characterized by a great divergence of themes from religious to mythological and to historical, the Northern Renaissance is more focused on a religious theme, with Flemish being particularly interested in combining religious and secular motifs in their works (Gardner and Kleiner 576).

This specific feature can also be traced in Van Eyck’s works. For instance, in the artist’s work Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride a man and a woman are taking marriage, which is an ancient custom deriving from human relationships; however, the place and some attributes in the painting associate this ceremony with church and religion. Another distinguishing feature of this painting is the inclusion of some customary Flemish elements, such as clogs and candle for the marriage (Gardner and Kleiner 578).

These details give Van Eyck’s works as an individual character, attributed to a certain region. As for the painter’s style, the typical feature that is also traditional for the Italian Renaissance is special attention to details and atmospheric perspective. These features, as well as the use of Classicism palette, can be noticed in such paintings as Man in a Red Turban, Ghent Altarpiece, and others.

Another representative of Northern Renaissance, but of its later heritage is the world known German artist Albrecht Dürer. While analyzing the artist’s style of painting, it is unavoidable to draw a parallel between this artist and his Italian contemporary, Leonardo Da Vinci. Being a traveler, which was a rare thing at that time, Dürer wrote a diary, noting down his ideas about perspective, paramount human body proportions and other themes accordant with those studied by Leonardo (Gardner and Kleiner 631).

The fact that the artist traveled a lot can probably explain the numerous borrowings he made from Italian artists. In specific, the theme of human body proportions is well-reflected in the engraving The Fall of Men (Adam and Eve); the brilliant use of color and attention to details in oils, characteristic of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, are brightly presented in Dürer’s The Four Apostles. Moreover, all the artist’s works show his masterful knowledge of the light and shade combination technique (probably derived from the famous Italian chiaroscuro).

The painter also demonstrated his skills of showing a wide variety of textures in oils. In general, it can be stated that the style of Dürer is very similar to that of Italian Renaissance artists. The personal contribution of the artist lies more in his studies and numerous records of his studies and of art theory concepts (Gardner and Kleiner 634).

The later style dominating in both fine arts and architecture is Baroque, a more modernized version of Renaissance ideas, but still attached to classical themes and ideas. One of the brightest representatives of this style is the Italian artist and gifted architect Gianlorenzo Bernini. His projects, masterfully designed and performed, serve as hallmarks of Baroque style. One of the artist’s specific features is the exclusive way of showing movement.

His sculptures are different from those traditionally steady and obviously depicted from posing figures of Renaissance; Bernini showed the different characters of his sculptures by means of showing the dynamics in various forms. One of the brightest examples is his sculpture of David with energetic dynamics (Gardner and Kleiner 664).

Made of marble, the sculpture is extremely different from the previous versions performed by earlier artists; Bernini’s David is more aggressive, more expressive, and more complex, with rather an expressive face. It needs to be noted that Bernini’s vision of facial expression is rather innovative for his time. While the majority of artists depicted figures with blank looks and no concrete expressiveness, Bernini gives emotions and facial expression a crucial role in his works. One of the examples is the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, with suffering and resignation on the face of Teresa and joyful peace on angel’s face. The presentation of this work points to another characteristic feature of Bernini’s works, the combination of various materials. Indeed, the background of the marble sculpture is decorated with pieces of a Baroque pediment and completed with polychrome marble (Gardner and Kleiner 665).

Motion and dynamics are also well-demonstrated in this work, as well in some architectural objects of the artist (Gardner and Kleiner 665). For instance, the lines and perspectives of Saint Perer’s suggest the dynamic character of the building, with various materials being used for various elements.

Works Cited

Kleiner, Fred and Gardner, Helen. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. Mason, OH: Cengage learning, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "History of Renaissance." June 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-renaissance/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'History of Renaissance'. 26 June.

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