The Idea and the Art of Renaissance in Italy
Historically known as the period between the Middle Ages and the Reformation, the Renaissance was originated from French -Re- and -Naissance- that is, Rebirth. Renaissance enabled the re-establishment of the bond between art, science, philosophy and architecture in 15th – 16th century in Italy. It is a period in which experimental thought revives and humanism comes to the fore, and with the invention of the printing press, the sharing of knowledge with large masses increases and radical changes take place.
Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) used the word “Rinascita” for the first time in his work titled Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori (Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects), published in 1550. However, the current use of the term appears in Jacob Burckhardt’s work “Renaissance Culture in Italy”, which was first published in 1860. As Burckhardt mentioned, the Renaissance is not only seen in the field of art in Italy; it includes mobility and revitalization in all branches of social life.
Burckhardt, who conducted in-depth research on the Renaissance, also says, “The Renaissance is the discovery of man.” Because until the Renaissance, humans had no value in Medieval Europe. Starting from the 15th century, the effects of the Ancient Age understanding began to be seen in the field of idea. With this influence, the humanist understanding that sees humans as “micro cosmos” emerged.
The most important center of Renaissance is Florence. The Medici family living here was the greatest protector of art. While Florence, which hosts many artists in various fields, became a banking center; Venice in the north is the most important port for offshore trade to the east.
When we look at Renaissance art, it is possible to see that it marks a cultural rebirth at the end of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world. One of the distinctive features of Renaissance art is the development of highly realistic linear perspective. Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) was the first to treat a painting as a window into space. However, another significant artist we can talk about in Renaissance painting is undoubtedly Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s fresco “the Last Supper” (known as Il Cenacolo or l’Ultima Cena in Italian) reveals a subject that was widely painted by Renaissance artists. This fresco is an example of the High Renaissance. It was painted on the wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The work is da Vinci’s most famous work after the “Mona Lisa”.
The pioneers of the Renaissance, apart from their artistic activities also gave huge importance to literature, history and archaeology. That’s why the Renaissance movement, which started in Italy, spread throughout Europe in a short time.