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Urban Society and Humanism in Renaissance Art Essay


Renaissance Art, Education, and Politics

Renaissance is considered to be a transitional period between medieval and modern times. Renaissance artists and thinkers believed that their art was superior because it took the best qualities of the classic art and enhanced them. According to Wiesner-Hanks, many of the contemporary creators considered their creations to be improved versions of classical masterpieces (127). Therefore, the art of Renaissance was deemed more beautiful than before.

In my opinion, such a self-assessment was also caused by the works of contemporary historians and artists themselves. The role of education and literacy was significant as well because many people were able to spread the opinions of these individuals and make everyone believe that the art of Renaissance was the best.

Learning and literacy became more available than before as boys and girls were taught to read and write. However, while boys were able to learn these skills to a level that allowed them to continue their education and pursue different careers and aspirations, girls were restricted in their studies.

Schools were separated by sex in the major cities, which created a significant discrepancy in learned skills for boys and girls. Moreover, young men were given an opportunity to learn more about academic matters, while girls were exposed to such subjects as sewing and embroidery. Therefore, men were able to participate in further learning. Women were not allowed to do anything more than teaching younger girls the same set of skills.

Political theorists of the Renaissance period argued about the best political approach to ruling the country. They mostly considered their rulers as people with the power invested in them by God. Therefore, multiple arguments discussed the leaders’ sanctity and untouchability. Moreover, many theorists were perplexed by the roles of women in power. The negative connotations connected to one’s gender were brought up against people’s respect for education and upbringing. Religious concerns also significantly impacted people’s opinions as women were mostly disregarded as capable leaders. Contemporary politics were portrayed in a way that ensured people of the divine power of authority.

Renaissance Humanism, Music, and Support of the Arts

Humanists allowed people to gain knowledge from Greek texts, which explored various philosophical topics. The translation of Plato’s works, for example, gave individuals an opportunity to compare his ideas of love with the central concepts of Christianity. The teachings of humanists influenced the elite, as many scholars and artists of that era became widely recognized. Moreover, humanism spread outside of Italy with men traveling to other parts of Europe in order to bring their knowledge to others.

Thus, the impact of humanism started to become more and more significant. Later, humanism became interconnected with people’s thoughts about reforming the church. Humanists began changing people’s perception of religion and created a divide between two religious groups. Thus, the movement of Christian humanism significantly affected the Protestant Reformation (Wiesner-Hanks 143).

Music started developing along with other types of art. Although music was not regarded as highly as sculpting and painting, many people included playing instruments and singing into their routine. Religious tensions that split the church also affected the development of music, as different religious groups perceived the effects of music either to be helpful and inspirational or damaging and ungodly. Thus, music was heavily influenced by religious choirs and hymns. However, various songs and compositions started appearing during plays as well. Playing a musical instrument or singing also became one of the skills expected of educated women.

Italy was not the only country to develop the art of Renaissance. Famous literary works also came from Spain, France, and England. Many poets and writers created their works in native languages, refusing to write in Latin. However, many of the works were written in Latin as well. The architecture was also popular in many countries. French and Spanish architects developed their building styles, moving away from Italy’s influence. Moreover, the Netherlands and Germany embraced painters and sculptors and promoted their works.

The Concepts of Utopia

More, one of the theorists of the Renaissance period, wrote a dialogue that quickly became a subject of discussion for many contemporary scholars. In his work, he described an island, called Utopia, which was devoid of troubles that burdened More’s fellow citizens. The structure of Utopia is different from most European countries. According to More, the island offers a vast territory with soils fit for agriculture. Moreover, the people that live on the island are devoted to various types of agriculture, which allows them to excel in this field. Many harbors of the island give its residents an opportunity to travel and trade with other territories.

The government of Utopia, which significantly differs from the ideas supported in Europe, is chosen by its inhabitants. This approach is portrayed as a benefit to the island’s society because the opinion of the public is seen as critical to the government’s operations. Magistrates can be considered the main way of communication between citizens and the Prince. They meet to discuss various public matters and guide the society in the right direction.

The industrious nature of the residents is explained by people’s ability and desire to work. Most people are employed in physical labor, which keeps them busy and frees them from outcomes of idleness. According to the author, people are happy to work and use their energy. As a result, the role of labor is outlined by the author as the basis of stability.

Works Cited

More, Thomas. “Utopia.” Fordham University, 2017. Web.

Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E. Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Urban Society and Humanism in Renaissance Art." November 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/urban-society-and-humanism-in-renaissance-art/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Urban Society and Humanism in Renaissance Art'. 11 November.

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