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Italy -- The Emergence of Secular Art in the Italian Renaissance

The Emergence of Secular Art in the Italian Renaissance

Fall of Roman Empire takes place as the last Emperor is deposited which breaks into what is termed the Barbarian Kingdoms. Before we go into art history of the renaissance period we much review the social and political and geopolitical climate of the times.


Middle Ages constituted a time when leftists caused the fall of Rome and brought about illiteracy, constant infighting, and disunity which led to weakening defenses and constant wars and finally foreign invasions. Slowly the periphery collapsed and all that was left was the city of Rome. Toward the period of Roman decline it became a fashionable trend to disassociate oneself with Roman ideas. Claiming one was a Roman citizen was frowned upon at least.  Some historians, anthropologists, commentators, have associated Christianity as the prime cause. I contest this view and rather place guilt as the prime suspect upon a general rejection of Roman ideology of expansion and control of resources – from these earlier periods of imperial expansion. During an earlier periods of expansions certain ethnicities controlled a state or and later the Empire’s trajectory. This later causes a reaction by other ethnicities of later generations who fought against the original ethical currents and framed Roman ideology in a negative discourse. This negative discourse achieved its purpose and placed guilt upon the former ruling ethnicities, who at this time tried to revise their ideology toward an ideology of power sharing. Yet, these ethnicities who were these opponents of the Empire in the beginning conquests did not trust the new Roman ideology; thereby establishing a disunity in reaction and advocating to destabilize the state.  All these earmarks associated with imperialism and state sustainment by control created a guilty reaction brought on by social pressure from the periphery that resulted in mass-disbelief in the human condition under Roman ideology. This led to dividing up the political spectrum and evidences that by associating oneself with the Roman past led to general ostracism within the Roman boarders. This led to political, economic and social fragmentation of the Empire – which then led to individual groups challenging the central authority.  Ultimately these individual groups sought the weakening of the periphery of Roman boarders until all that was left of original Roman ideology lay within the near and local borders of the city of Rome itself. After the empire fell, and in contribution to no sustainable periphery of a patriotic military, this opened the way for foreign conquests by new ethnicities. After these invasions, slowly the languages morphed into the romance languages and unity into regional factionalism defined Europe into individual langue-groups forming individual entities of the medieval period. The medieval period was divided into what we call middle ages. But this section deals with the revival of the Roman ideas as they reemerge into the consciousness, not as some kind of magic as Jacob Burckhardt would intend, but by multiple non-liner forces of historical perpetually.[1] The transfer of information is vital to understanding the Italian renaissance. But the Italian Renaissance did not evolve solely out of social causes.  Yet, and as witnesses to history, social historical writing is a part of the novelty that arouse out of the Italian renaissance, and is still with us today. This type of writing is artistic and moves away from a scientific method. Yet, the short comings of the scientific methods are filled by the explanation of art. Therefore this page is dedicated mainly to art, but with understanding toward multi-faceted currents which help correlate the artistic expressions that arose with the Italian Renaissance.

The left distrusted people as good which caused suspicion to each other’s neighbor that begat infighting about traditional vs. progressive solutions to ideological problems and the entire culture, political and economic system of western Europe fell into darkness. The Dark Ages is another name referred to as these Middle Ages. The name derives from the Proto-and Italian renaissance periods because the people said that these generations likened in darkness of thought. Renaissance or the Italian original name Renascimento means ‘new birth.’ However, the Italians looked at the definition as the rebirth of the classical antiquities of Rome and Greece. The adjective “new” implied a cyclical understanding of the rise and fall of historical grand periods. This term is in bodied in the French word Renaissance, “rebirth.” In this sense, the subject was western civilization’s reemergence from an earlier period that had already reached a high level of civilization.  The notion of the word implied that people looked to the past to answer questions about their future.

The political system of Europe in the middle ages was Feudalism (mainly in the western portion of Europe from approximately 1000 A.D. onward). Feudal lords as they were called owned all the land,  while vassals, sometimes knights, and serfs more like slaves rented from the Feudal lord’s a piece on their land. At various times, serfs became restricted to movement away from their birthplace. Feudalism political climate constituted a two class system: The haves and the have-nots. Feudal lords were the aristocracy and very wealthy. They owned large tracts of land. On these lands each feudal family was totally self sufficient from the other. Each land had a forest for wood, spring for water, flat land for farming, and various other necessities all self contained. It is not until roughly the thirteenth century that the Latin Church makes moves into acquiring land in Europe and controlling and promoting knowledge and conquest in search of reestablishing a hint of Roman glory – in what we might call the first of the mini-proto-renaissance eras. It is a myth that the Church suppressed Europeans in general and controlled knowledge by restricting education. In fact, it is more to the contrary.  It was the Latin Church that spearheaded the creation of Universities (11th-13th cc.) in order to facilitate knowledge – even understanding at its own expense an eventual loss of some or all of its social, political and economic control. With the Church’s acquiring of land and educational privilege, a third estate was created which helps understand the social class stratagem of the medieval age. Agriculture funded the upkeep of the Cathedral, church or buildings. Over time, the excess of funds helped to establish clergy pensions, in which helped new Latinists translate books in archives stored in monasteries. this is a vital understanding how the early efforts to reestablish Roman antiquity framed the renaissance style.

As a serf or a vassal, each one had to turn over a yearly yield of whatever was produced to the Feudal Lord. In the case of vassals, such as knights, they had to offer their battle services for a portion of the year. A serf who worked in agriculture and produced food or making of tools or the spinning of cloth, and every other sort of lively necessities, they had to produce the most of the goods for the individual societies that were managed by ‘manors.’ Whatever the Feudal Lord did not take, the serfs could have the leftovers. It was a hard life for serfs. Yet, the serfs formed their little in-manner communities, in which later a myth developed in early university curriculums that the Middle Ages were examples of communitarianism as comparable to proto-renaissance emergence of individualism and the emergence of bourgeoisies, the merchant class, predicated upon simplistic forms of free-market economics. This styling or framing of this argument was linked to Petrarch’s ideals of refashioning Julius Caesar’s empirical image in which during the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire was normally considered the negative model for society because of its imperialistic proclivities. Jacob Burckhardt, Franz Kugler, George Voigt, Karl Marx, all were a part of this new academic styling or framing that romanced the middle ages as a social process of communitarian lifestyles. While much of this vision of communitarian romancing is linked to then contemporary Germanic academics, this vision would later began to pervade its myth(s) across European lands as a distinction between ages and be the by the late nineteenth century it became standard academic discourse as a distinct marker between what became known as Middle Ages and the Modern Age.   In Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), Peter ____ exposes the changing historiography of the social fashioning of the middle age communities and its relation to non-individualism. He contrasts these early, and limited views in today’s modern assessments and criticisms of the early renaissance and post-renaissance historians and academics – in which we rely upon their works in classrooms today because we have no other choice,  due to the limited amount of recorded material for the Italian and German renaissance(s).

Jacob Christoph Burckhardt (May 25, 1818, Basel, Switzerland – August 8, 1897, Basel) was a Swiss historian who helped construct a later historiographic consensus among many later anthropologists and social commentators that the medieval age was full of non-individual laws and sentiments, and ways of life, with no conscious and full of collective sympathies. Burckhardt born the same year as Karl Marx shared the same view of the Middle Ages, and this helps explain Marx’s edition of Frederick Engel’s Communist Manifesto, in which he blames the end of communitarians by the bourgeoisies – thereby marking as a distinct morality to understand. Yet, today, anthropologists, historians, social commentators on the past, all understand that individualism existed as a continuum during all stages of the Middle Ages. As with the views of changing historiography contained in the Middlemore edition of The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, we now know by extensive archival evidence most likely unavailable to these early Germanic academics, that the Middle Ages consisted of fierce individualism. Knights fought each other over influence for lords, be it in symbolic non-lethal battles, more the norm, and to a lesser extend lethal competitions. In rare but recorded archival instances, certain stations of serf-classes rose in social class and entered the manner class, by individual desires to raise their individual social status. While the serfs lived in communes, if we can loosely use this word, on the manner lands, they were not free to leave or often visit a neighboring manner. While logically, it can be assumed, some or even many serfs preferred this lifestyle, the argument that they wanted to stay that way requires an imagination. Individualism existed within all social classes. Even the papal cardinal election system exhibited fierce individualism, as well as the fierce competition witnessed for the position of Holy Roman Emperor. When Burckhardt and others were writing their classics or their works the current of thought was to romance the past by developing a new style of historical writing based upon narrow views and detailed monographs (although that word was not used). Burckhardt increasing over his writing career moved toward a singular writing style of social commentator and moved away from addressing economics and politics (although these two topics exist in his work, they are parallels to arguments addressed in sociology). It is important to understand these framings of historical views because they provide an understanding on limitation to what actually caused the renaissance. Marx came closer to defining the change between the ages than Burckhardt, yet both had failed to accurately understand its breadth due to their contemporary curriculum and limited resources. Marx, after he had met Engels, began to move away from philosophy and turn towards economics. This helps explain why he came closer to the actual cause of the renaissance in his brief discussion on it in the Communist Manifesto than Burckhardt. Yet, convincingly, both increasingly moved away from philosophy in their works which explains why they had limited success to defining the cause.

The changed that occurred in western civilization which is the topic of this discourse had three main components, all dependent upon each other: economic, political and social. Burckhardt became known as a fantastic social historian. Marx became known for a fantastic economic historian – both are also seen as social commentators in both of their fields of concentration. What makes Italy so important to understanding the cause of moving away from the Middle Ages toward the pre-modern states, and in between its renaissance, were due to accurately understanding these three components of historicism.

Why modern historiography argues that Burckhardt was an anti-Hegelian, a contemporary of his, I intend that he was anti-Petrarch as well. Francesco Petrarch (July 20, 1304 jul. – July 19, 1374) an Italian Latinist and scholar, who helped fashion the later meaning for Renaissance humanists by presenting secular works from the Roman times,  modeling Italian language while reassembling, presenting and teaching some of the great Roman Republic and Roman Empire texts, then unknown. These texts were sitting in monasteries on shelves, while most monks read religious texts according to their ecclesiastical duties. However, in the period that Church land programs a Petrarch, already preordained because his father was a curator for the papal headquarters in Avignon, took a early pension allowing him free time to translate, assemble and present secular works to the public – in full knowledge and approval of the Catholic Church. While Burckhardt possibly did not agree with Petrarch, was the fact that after translating and presenting an edition on Julius Caesar’s literary writings and presenting histories of Caesar’s career, Petrarch asked the question if Caesar’s imperialist ways were in any way contradictory to prosperous periods for civilizations. Burckhardt had been a long enemy of Republican and Imperialistic ways – evidence he concludes in the local and regions tyrants he reported and commented upon in his time. Rome had spread western civilization by determined expansion. In this sense, in the medieval age, Rome was in awe in memory of its foundational heights (empirical evidence of the architecture left behind) as well as distained for its ideology of Empire. To Burckhardt, he had connected local contemporary tyrants of Europe to mini-Caesars. Burckhardt had a hard time explaining the philosophies of the sophistication of Empire. On the other hand, Petrarch had re-inspired Rome’s past by presenting poetry, fables, histories and grand stories, with his projects of resurrecting ancient Roman literature. Like Dante, he and his family were exiled from Italian towns. This was do to the fractionalization between two main groups, the Gluelphs and the Ghibellins [competing Italian noble families, and their followers]. The Gluelphs, usually sided with the French Monarchy for intervention. While The Ghibellins sided with the Holy Roman empire faction (Spain in general) for protection from intervention by the other side. Burckhardt explains it was somewhat an illusion, and that interests in these interventions were solely selfish toward foreign plundering of both factions. As example, Burckhardt explains “the Guelphs of Tortona summoned a part of the neighboring French army into the city, in order to make an end once for all of their opponents, [;] the French certainly began by plundering and ruining the Ghibellines, but finished by doing the same to the Guelphs.”[2] Furthermore, Burckhardt convinces his argument when he concludes, “[I]n Romagna, the hotbed of every ferocious passion, these two names had long lost all political meaning. It was sign of the political delusion of the people that they not seldom believe the Guelphs to be the natural allies of the French and the Ghibellins of the Spaniards. It is hard to see that those who tried to profit by this error got much by doing so. France, after all her interventions, had to abandon the peninsula at last, and what became of Spain, after she had destroyed Italy, is known to every leader.”[3] Yet, the illusion here pretends too Burckhardt’s argument that Italians were strong and capable, independent people -– a general observation post-renaissance. 

In “The Opponents of the Despots,” section of Burckhardt’s work, the ideology of tyrannicide played a key role in the development of independent city-states, as well as illustrating two currents operating at the same time in Italian life. At one current, dictatorships were seen as good and assassination of conspirators favored. On the other end of the spectrum, a current of idealism of the commonwealth was seen as a preferred form of living. Therefore, assassination of tyrants (local leaders) was ideally permissible. Burckhardt explains that because local rulers (seen as tyrants associated with ‘cold-blooded indifference’ from sources describing power -struggles of Greek antiquity and Roman explanations) were guarded heavily, their families always remaining separated, the assassinations could only be achieved when a ruler was in worship – usually in a church. At worship, leaders fell to assassins. [T]he Fabrianese murdered the members of their ruling house, the Chiavelli, during high mass (1435), the signal being given by the words of the Creed, ‘ Et incarnatus est.’ At Milan the Duke Giovan Maria Visconti (1412) was assassinated at the entrance of the church of Dan Gottardo, Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1476) in the church of Santo Stefano, and Lodovico il Moro only escaped (1484) the daggers of the adherents of the widowed Duchass Bona  through entering the church of Sant’ Amborgio by another door than that by the assassin of Galeazzo did not fall pray before the murder to the patron saint of the church, and to listen devoutly to the first mass. It was, however, one cause of the partial failure of the conspiracy of the Pazzi against Lorenzo and Guiliano Medici (1478), that the brigand Montesecco, who had bargained to commit the murder at a banquet, declined to undertake it in the cathedral of Florence. Certain of the clergy ‘who were familiar with the sacred place, and consequently had no fear’ were induced to act in his stead.”[4]

“As to the imitation of antiquity, the influence of which on moral and more especially on political questions we shall often refer to, the example was set by the rulers themselves, who, both in their conception of the state and in their personal conduct, took the old Roman empire avowedly as their model. In like manner their opponents, when they set to work with a deliberate theory, took pattern by the ancient tyrannicides.” [5] It is worthy to point out, that  Burckhardt questions by the next sentence his own construction of Italian history. He exhorts “It may be hard to prove that in the main point – in forming the resolve itself – they consciously followed a classical example; but the appeal to antiquity was no mere phase.” [6] Burckhardt is alluding to historic, that of power struggles was a normative adherence to political life, and murder of local rulers played out in history spanning all ages or periods. Yet, as proof he gives, provides evidence that ancient concepts of conspiracies framed as patriotic [patron morph. patriot] were permissible in light of reviving Roman Republicanism or some type of antiquity past. “The most striking disclosures have been left to us with respect to the murderers of Galeazzo Sforza – Lampugnani, Oligiati and Visconti. Though all three had personal ends to serve, yet their enterprise may be partly ascribed to a more general reason. About this time Cola de’ Montani, a humanist and professor of eloquence, had awakened among many of the young Milanese nobility a vague passion for glory and patriotic achievements [...]”.Petrarch had originally revived the question on Roman Republicanism, and the Imperialism periods of Rome. Burckhardt who quotes Boccaccio frankly examines an open declaration:

Shall I call the tyrant king or prince, and obey him loyalty as my lord? No, for his is the enemy of the commonwealth [people rule of Roman Republican era]. Against him I may use arms, conspiracies, spies, ambushes and fraud; to do so is a sacred and necessary work. There is no more acceptable sacrifice than the blood of a tyrant.”[7]

Yet, Burckhardt questions the secular connection to Rome. Christian sentiment for conspiracies also played a small role. “St Thomas drew a distinction and permitted conspiracies against a tyrant who had forced himself on a people against their will.”[8] Paradoxically, St Thomas of Aquinas also condemns conspiracies “absolutely.”[9] A religious connection was deemed, but the secular connection was attributed to patronization of one’s connection to locality. “After Lorenzino Medici had murdered the Duke Alessandro (1537), and then escaped, an apology for the deed appeared, which is probably his own work, and certainly composed in his interest, in which he praises tyrannicide as an act of the highest merit; on the supposition that Alessandro was a legitimate Medici, and, therefore, related to him, if only distantly, he boldly compares himself with Timoleon, who slew his brother for his country’s sake.” [10] Here the two currents operate side by side, paving away for rationalization for power struggles. Yet, for the most part, Burckhardt claims that Italians accepted tyrants, and by accepting these local strongmen, Italians made use of them for profit. He confirms, “A popular radicalism in the form in which it is opposed to the monarchies of later times is not to be found in the despotic states of the Renaissance. Each individual protested inwardly against despotism but was rather disposed to make tolerable or profitable terms with it, then to combine with others for its destruction.”[11] Burckhardt provides examples of individuals forming groups to overthrow existing family rulers, such as at “Camerino, Fabriano or Rimini.” Yet, ironically he concludes that “They knew in most cases only too well that this would but mean a change of masters.”[12] It is in his statement that he diverts the evidence of “most cases” to extend the different outcomes for the two main Republics of Italy at this time: Venice and Florence.

The concept of state was a form of understanding federalism: A recognition of opposing ideologies with a centered and larger self interest. One example of Italians feeling unified came from opposition in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He gives ample evidence of individualism with contradicts his overall theme of collectivity of the middle ages. “The Italian municipalities had,” he exclaims, “in earlier days, given signal proof of that force which transforms the city into the state. It remained only that these cities should combine in a great confederation; and this idea was constantly recurring to Italian statesmen, whatever differences of form it might from time to time display. In fact, during the struggles of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, great and formable leagues actually were formed by the cities; and Sismondi is of the opinion that the time of the final armaments of the Lombard confederation against Barbarossa (from 1160 on) was the moment when a universal Italian league was possible. But the more powerful states had already developed characteristic features which made any such scheme impracticable.”[13] By not delving into specific examples of individualistic process of each city competing for regional commercial competitions, Burckhardt can remain in the myth that collectivism – at least for each city – tended toward the current theme of the medieval age. A way to understand how this was accomplished was bring the past into conformity to the present state of academics. Somehow, before Petrarch brought back the understanding of classical Roman periods, collectivism appeared the norm for Italian cities. Individual accomplishments, that ascribed heroism, individual feats of valor, and stories with protagonists, villains and heroes, was absent among the understanding of medieval currents of thought. With the help of Latin and Greek scholars that fled Anatolia (mainly Constantinople) during the Ottoman consolidation of Anatolia, helped to describe the ancient learning brought to Venice and Florence. It was also in tandem with the life of Petrarch that Italy was in the right place and the right time for the transfer of knowledge. The short above synopsis helps to describe the local turmoil’s inherent in Italian life. This helps to explain why some families were exiled. In their exile, emerge important reflections and introverted investigation on what was life. Eventually, returning to Italy, these exiles became what would be called courtiers, such as the prime example of Petrarch. It is difficult to speculate if Italy existed as communitarian society, if an individual life Petrarch would have existed. Because of fierce individualism, and interventionism, a character like Petrarch did arrive on the historical scene. A philosopher would speculate that tyrannicide operated before and during Petrarch’s period. Yet scholasticism had yet made its wide arrival and record keeping remained limited. Petrarch’s life is important to comment upon, because he represented inspiration, and by the later parts of his life, was recognized even in villages that were mainly illiterate. The quest for the past and stories of heroes and adventures captivated the Italian population – and led to courtiers inviting humanists to their homes in which led to eventually nobles thinking about grander schemes of historical precedence.

Because Petrarch’s father was with the wrong party, he was exiled, and this was common.  At a young age he and his family journey to Avignon following Pope Clement V, who would set up the Avignon Papacy. The Family lived in nearby Carpentras. Between 1312-1319 and in his teens, he fell into love with Cicero’s description of Roman ways of life. His early love and Cicero was a Republic period of Rome and would affect him for the rest of his life. In 1316 he went to Montpellier. He would follow in the footsteps of his father. However, after 1326 and after his father had died, he abandoned the study of law (which would have been a financially stable lifestyle). Petrarch’s character, like Dante, could be summed up in their youth’s journey away from Italy. Both families had to migrate, and this left a familiar void for tradition, instead finding themselves in a foreign land. To both of them, it seemed as an adventure – and for this theme particularly helped establish both of their characters – like searching for their ideal home, but they do not know exactly what it should look or be like.  Petrarch did not lose his wandering spirit. In 1333 he took a trip across France and into Germany, all the while recording his journey, something very novel at the time. While in Liege, he finds Cicero’s Pro Archia. He connects themes of heroines’ and journeys’ with aspects of his wanderings which deepen his desire to investigate the past and too uncover other examples in history of other individuals who had made journeys –physically or mentally -- in their own struggles to rectify their removal from tradition. As part of his struggles, the plague took most of his friends, some relatives, the possibly mythical Laura, and associates. Laura was the object of his desire, and according to Petrarch, he had first seen her at Church, but felt under classed and timid to approach her. Yet, his love for her is represented in many of his beautiful writings. There is no consensus among historians if his object of desire was a real person or not. Yet, what is clear is she was a great inspiration and motivator for the difficult and lonely life led on the road. It is also worth noting Dante’s object of desire, in which had the same affect upon his inspiration(s).

What was the significance of Roman Latin? Cicero was classical Latin. Classical Latin was more rigged and structured, which helped to refine its elegance in a form of Latin which was not continued during the medieval age, “in general.” It is at this time of discovering Cicero’s texts and a vast collection of letters that Classical Latin will re enter Western Europe. Cicero was very in love of the Roman Republic and lived during the time when Caesar was changing Rome to a dictatorship. He was also deeply involved in the political things at the time.

Leopold von Ranke, and wrote a paper for him on an early medieval topic, the achievement of Charles Martell.”[14]

Usually these serfs lived neglected by their masters and died young. For women serfdom life was particularly hard. If a master likened the beauty of a serf girl she was forced to render up her services to him – in anything he desired amounted to interest in her.

The serf’s talents were not respected (save a few social climbers who exchanged talent for social status). For instance, if one was good at tanning but lived on a feudal estate, it was tough. You were told what to do and this meant that you had to learn all aspects of production. These spaces between each feudal estate were so vast that usually one would never know their neighbors. This ensured that no capitalism and/or trading were aloud between the lowest class. Furthermore, no plots and schemes that threatened the Lords could be hatched. This meant that there was no capitalism at all for the serf. Economics was restricted to the lords biddings.

Capitalism (the concept, not the term that was created in 1847, the word, 'capital ' first used by Thacheray, later by Marx and Engels as different conceptual criteria in their collaborative work, Das Kapital.) ends the Middle Ages and the Renaissance begins. Capital the very idea for the word actually is linked to Italy in antiquity. The word's etymology comes from the idea of 'colums.', and capital the architecture motif, that of Greece, and then Roman copying of Greek architecture in which Romans had employed with great relevance, the reference is thus a vertical structure and describes classism.  It is a veritable structure as opposed to non-vertical equality represented in idealism of democracy (the connotative Greek terminology, of political ‘Rule by the common people’).

There are many other contributing reasons why the Middle Ages ended and the renaissance began. First there was a terrible period of the Bubonic Plague, called the Black Plague period c. 1348. Much of the population of Europe vanished and the encouragement of the Church and the Aristocracy asked for everyone to have as many babies as possible. This of course, backfired on the Aristocracy’s dominance because the population grew to such an extent that clustering of manors resulted in crowding which brought poor people together to group their thoughts on eventually overthrowing the aristocracy. This is more evidence for the case that individualism existed as continuity during the medieval period.

However, the shipbuilding begun in the 10th Century and had reached a crescendo which opened up conversations of domination of the Mediterranean, ruled by the Ottoman Empire – who’s goal was to keep Europe cut off from India and the Middle East. However, the black plague moved from Europe into the middle east weakening the Ottoman Empire long enough that holes in trading opened up for some European merchants which is where the Italian Renaissance begins. These holes had been known since the efforts of the Crusades.  It is these men who open holes in the Ottoman Empire who become wealthy enough to want to build homes and castles and palaces for themselves in which they pay the equivalent of cash for specialized workers.

Specialized workers evolved out of the new class that developed called the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie constituted the third class from the previously two class system of the middle ages (if we include the Church as a class, then four): Aristocracy, or the wealthy and privileged land owners, and the serfs or vassals who were no more than renters, and in many cases slaves to the rich and powerful, began to see a higher rate of freedom associated to individualism in adventure and danger of long-distant travel for trade networking. Eventually, as the Church became wealthy from land revenue, and their programs of social pensions, more people had money to purchase trade items than only the traditional aristocracy. The third class became urban dwellers amidst the population boom correlating with new farming techniques that increased the food supply. This all corresponded with the opening up of trade to the east in part of the plague and also small internal wars of the Ottoman Empire, and not lest the new shipping industries of Europe.

The city became market places and satellite urban dwellings sprung up around Italy in small personally governed city-states. By the thirteenth century, the thought of people as collective rulers came back into the societal fold.

In the region we call Tuscany, Italy, Siena, the city-state with it own autonomous government was at the beginning fighting for independence from Florence, a city with a widely historical account of participation in the early stages of the renaissance. However, as most history tells us, resources are coveted by groups who, in this manner of the burgeoning populations of southern Europe needed fresh water. Water became an instrument for agitating wars and later on some city-states gobbled up other city-states enacting a rule of law over them.

These laws affected the Guilds, which included the artist trade. Guilds a word for labor unions in the renaissance period happened to force groups into forming special interest groups as we have today. Who a painter worked for and where was he aloud to work all came with the new territory.

In the middle ages the only people who could afford works of art happened to be the rich and powerful called the aristocracy. For example, if one lord was to commission a calendar prayer book, he might go to the scriptorium or a monastery and visit some monks or their friends for a consultation of a piece of work.  The lord may give some instructions to what he wants in the book and give some pictorial examples of page layout and be ask by the monks to come back in three years to pick up the book. Artistic books are very expensive. For example, a single book could take up to three years to produce and take three people. The lord would have to pay the equivalent of three years worth of salary to three people. That is expensive. These books today are on display around the world in museums and when one sees one they will see gold leaf and fine artistic detail called ‘highly specific.’ Highly specific is fine detailed often used with a single animal hair brush; or a scene that covers ever aspect in fine detail down to the distant clouds on the horizon. The manuscript Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is one fine example of highly specific artistic workings on a book (Chantilly, Musée Condé).  He is the third son of Jean II, le Bon, King of France (reigned 1350-1364), was born on November 30, 1340, in the Chateau de Vincennes. He ruled over the region of Burgundy.  Thus he had money. This was a personal piece that only a few would see. It was commissioned around 1413-16 and is pigment on vellum. Vellum is skin from a goat, sheep or lamb. The most prized of vellum is what became the term sheep-skin; this was the underbelly of the stomach lining of the sheep It is durable as well as soft with the right PH balance to keep the pigments brilliant in their originality.

Paper was still in it infancy in the west. Chinese invented paper c. 3 B.C. – 3. A.D. Brought over to Europe from the crusades era via the Arabs whom ascertained the invention from the Chinese in the battle of Talas in 712 A.D. Marco Polo also brought home notes about this invention back to Europe.  However, the PH was too acidic and the paper thus tended to become quickly brittle over time. Another factor of the acidity of the paper created diffusions in the color strength of the pigment once it was applied to the vellum. Thus vellum was still highly favored.

This miniature book is not finished because Limbourg Brothers died in the periods of the plague. Usually illumination pages depicted genre scenes. A genera scene in art depicts everyday life. The calendar page marked for May gives us a clue of a brilliant genera scene where the lunette, a half moon above the genera was unfinished. In the little boxes under the constellations of Taurus and Gemini were areas that would have been filled in with astronomical/astrological symbols. Calendars were unspecific and the New Year began about March 25 beginning in the ninth Century in Europe until the Sixteenth Century. Showing the constellations was an accurate time stamp on what time it was in the year. This was a prayer book and it comprised liturgical dates. Liturgical means pertaining to the public prayer and worship schedules in the year. This page shows the spring time ritual of the Aristocracy coming together for a annual outing celebrating the end of winter and the return of warmer climate. The king is shown with fine linen rode that outshines the embroidery of his court and the women are all wearing the fashionable dresses that make them look pregnant. This was just a fashion after the encouragement to have more babies after the plague. Also the women are wearing green the traditional color of fertility.

The pages have gold leaf on some of the figures in the genera scene. When the monks or specialists at the scriptorium applied gold leaf this was a delicate and often one-shot deal. On the vellum the oils on the vellum and oil that came from the bonded agents in the pigments often caused headaches to workers who had to apply the gold leaf. The gold leaf came like sheets of saran rap that we all see in our kitchens today; the thicker the mil the more expensive the product. One the pieces were carefully cut to size they were bonded on the surface of the vellum. If the gold leaf was not positioned correctly the worker could not take off the mistake and reposition it with out taking off some other parts of the picture. Usually the picture comprised of layers of pigments and bonding would lift up the layers if a repositioning had to take place. It was possible to change a mistake, but costly for the gold leaf replacement. Pictures do no justice to seeing the gold leaf in person. In museums usually a script or miniature is under dim lighting so not to upset the colors from UV and other harmful light rays that can fade and damage pictures over time.

Map of early Italian states during the Renaissance

Map of early Italian cities during the Renaissance

Trade begins by means of bringing the Western Culture out of the Dark Ages ( Middle Ages).

During the early renaissance period in Italy in Avignon, France, the papacy remains divided with one pope living in France and the other living in Italy - both were excommunicating each other. The difference of view point to the rightful place of the Church’s headquarters was a political nightmare politically. Italy was divided up politically as well. The southern portion of Italy changed hands between the French, German, and Spain. The northern portion of Italy fought continual skirmishes between bourgeoisie and the many Ducks and Princes vying for political power. The key to the opening up of modern humanism and republican forms of democracy lay in the geopolitical geography of the Mediterranean ocean. The Ottoman Empire was strong in the fifteenth century due to the political structure of the first ten caliphs; access to trading to the east, first opening up by way of the Crusades, showed little advancement in means of shipping. The ships were leaky and pirates of the Arabs ruled the seas.

To the direct du-west of Tuscany lie the traders who brought spices and silk from the orient. The shipping around the large piece of land called Sicily was dangerous and wrote with risks. This was not businessman hedge. So to solve the needs that will be discussed shortly and the political geography of the renaissance period, shipping had to cross the Italian lands to modern day Turkey then by land currieries would take the tradeware across land to the western shores of Italy to board more ships that would be sent to importers such as France, Portugal, and England.

Tradeware once spotted by the commoner or the aristocrat forge quick covertness’ for the exotic spices that preserved food and for silk that did not itch the skin. Food quickly putrefied in the Middle Ages and many people were forced to eat food you and I would deem uneatable. The spices from the east helped preserve meats and cheeses and other foods for consumption, long after the natural date of decay of a product. This led to longer life spans, increasing work productivity, which produced the city—and at the same time produced the desire to expand the western heritage of antiquity.  However, the things that caught the Middle Agers’ attention were higher standards of living that produced desire to end the old introverted ways and open up to new thinking. Textiles brought from the east made life more bearable. Consider that there are varying grades of wool on the market. At shirt made out of cheap wool can cost about $30 or so. In Sacks Fifth Avenue, or Nordstrom’s, upper-class textile outlets as a comparable and loose association for matters of discussion, some wools sweaters can range from $150-$300. This is because of the itch factor. The common people of the Middle Ages had no choice but to wear cheap wool, including wool underwear. The debate of Francesco Petrarch, over if Caesar could be accepted as a benefice for western society and could the Empire as well be desirable, remained in contention.  Nevertheless, dialogue opened up to new understandings of these scarifies for conformability, a new and more tolerable lifestyle. Cheap wool tends to itch at the skin and there is nothing a person can do about it but suffer. Silk from the east trade routs that opened up brought various higher quality fabrics that made life more comfortable (even if too the select few at the beginning before a wider distribution and primitive manufacturing). Textiles ran much of history. For example,

Cotton will be later developed in Egypt and the English will exploit the fabric production areas because their country takes a particular liking to the way that cotton dries in colder weathers, and the easy way that cotton washes and restores itself. Food waste and uncomfortably were top priorities for societal solutions in communities in the proto-renaissance and renaissance periods. The price that paved the way were the Crusades, a mini-renaissance period that tried to reestablish the militaries symbols of the Roman Empire – with little success at that time. Yet, the Crusades punctured the wholes to the east that created a wider knowledge of advanced comfortable lifestyles awaiting the sacrifice of a desire to achieve something other than the normative difficult existence that defined the western civilization middle ages.

Tuscany is the last of the three major sections discussed in the geopolitical division of Italy at the beginning of the renaissance era. The traders used there land to pass from the east coast to the west coast. This had its advantages for the people who dwelt in these areas. First, travelers needed places to stay. Second travelers needed places to meet customers from other parts of Europe. Siena and Firenze were early cities in which traders came to stay and meet. As business quickly picked up, and the rich bought the new commodities, there arose other types of new things that created havoc until a solution was formed. Robbers now became a full time occupation because now traders who were traversing the lands had pockets full of gold coins.

Florentine (Florence) proclaims they had created the first modern bank, yet there was no proof. However, they were the first city to widely use a banking system for the traders to keep their money safe on the long journeys where adventure took them. Bankers wished that the traders did not return from the long journeys, all the while banks lent money on projects that wielded yet more money because business and progress was expanding. If a trader came back to collect his money, he received more than what he had put in to the bank at the beginning. Interest was a way to get accounts opened and a way to use money by attracting more customers to store funds and establishing small loans to open up businesses. Thus, banks lent money to builders who promoted building infrastructure and at the same time lending too the booming population due to the plague decree(s).  The people paid rents because they now had service jobs from the commodities markets coming in from the eastern trader routs. The result can be seen as a booming economy... and that was what it was. And out of the Dark Ages flashed the Italians and the renaissance was born.

[1] historical perpetually is not dealt with in this section.

[2] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 53.

[3] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 53.

[4] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 54.

[5] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 55.

[6] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 55.

[7] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 54. Boccaccio’s open declaration quoted by Burckhardt.

[8] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 56.

[9] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 56.

[10] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 56.

[11] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 56 -57.

[12] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 57.

[13] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 57.

[14] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 1. “Burckhardt disliked Ranke as a person but admired him as an historian.”



Terms: corresponding to the time periods of the Renaissance  (Some are older in origin)


Ascetic: Simplicity

Abstract: reduction of form; a summery of a whole piece of work ( Like a chapter summery  in a book).

incise: to cut into a surface with a short instrument. 2. Symbolic visual references to objects in nature.

Contrapposto: Weight-Shift

Foreshortening: The use of perspective to represent in art the apparent visual contraction of an object that extends back in space at an angle to the perpendicular plane of sight.

Fresco: A long history: Minoans used it in Crete c. 1650 B.C. Fresco is Italian for fresh. Usually permanent limeproof pigments , diluted with water, on freshly laid lime plaster. Longevity is due in part by the absorption of the pigments into the soft surface of the limeplaster.

Hierarchy of scale - with the greater size indicates greater importance.

Iconography: The use of signs and symbols to identify a subject in a work of art. Literally, the writing of images. The term refers to both the subject, or content. The use of signs and symbols to identify often made it easier for the general population to know who the person or thing was without needing a written identifier on a work of art. Iconography short term: transcending the language sound barriers. This was also a term to be linked with another called representational: Something that we can recognize, or identify. Also: Iconography the "writing of images."

Illumination:     Decorative page or place identifier in books. Today we often call them title or chapter pages. However, in the renaissance illumination usually took a artistic posture.

Modeling: The Shaping or fashioning of three-dimensional forms in a soft material, such as clay; also , the gradations of light and shade reflected from the surface of matter in space, or the illusion of such gradations proceeded by alterations of value in a drawing, painting, or print. 

Monumental: Having great size

Naturalism/Naturalistic: the doctrine that should adhere as closely as possible to the appearance of the natural world. Naturalism, wioth varying degrees of fidelity to appearance, recurs in history of Western Art.
Overlap: To show depth or cover up something like parts of the body.
Scale: refers to size, i.e. the relative size of an object compared with others of its kind, its setting, or human dimensions.
Perspective: A formula for projecting an illusion of the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface.
Vertical Placement: More on Perspective: see below.


More terms below


Middle ages:


Artists and the Politics of Art in Italy and the Northern Renaissance

Anything above the Alps is considered  Northern Europe in regards to the discussion of the Renaissance periods. Why? Because in Italy with its strategic position next to the Ottoman Empire where trade from the east fist secretly was conducted to the west, the Italians benefited by it geopolitical chance.

Florence did not revive Athenian government. They incorporated a representative government along the lines United States of America's representatives. Instead of a true democracy as Athens had claimed ( minus the women's and slaves right to vote) Florence was a Republican type of government. In some ways the Florins brought back Roman government. This was due in part that they believed that they were the actual descendents of the Romans. Why? Because whenever a builder dug up new ground for a building he haphazardly ran into an ancient Roman village's artifacts.

Guilds sprung up as the middle class sprung up because new trade opportunities which brought many new fields in business to Italy. The first thing on the agenda of the people of Tuscany was to control production and training technology. Who enters the guild was a political calculation. Being accepted in the guild meant social advancement along with economical advancement. Control also allowed the guild to ensure a quality product and a reasonable living wage.  Although, some women were let in to special trade fields, like in Germany women cold be retail agents, merchandizing fields and work in banks, females were not usually allowed in any of the departments of the trades. There were always an exception. Race discrimination also played its hand in the guild. Jews were only specified for certain trades and could not enter most of the many fields.

The guild

Middle ages:

Guilds were voluntary associations for religious, social, and commercial purposes.

  1. religious guilds,
  2. frith guilds,
  3. merchant guilds, and
  4. craft guilds.

Italian renaissance:

The patron commissions the work. The master shows the student the trade. The student then becomes a master guildsman.

Today in the United State of America the Guild is called the Union. A guild is an alliance or confederation of people, parties, or political entities for mutual interest or benefit. trade. Guilds opened up a living that no one had ever known in the time of the renaissance. People wanted desperately to get into the trade alliance for economic reasons as well as social climbing opportunities. Usually, you had to know someone of have a family member who was in the Guild sponsor you. If not one had to find a master and pay him if the master was availed. Youths entered the tutelage of a master about the ages from eight-fourteen  years old. The parents must pay the master. The Bottega is the name for a half-studio and half-shop. This is where the youth would first make his appearance as a apprentice. He also would live with the master. at first, his chores were menial at best: clean up the shop, due the laundry, sweep the floors, clean the Bottega. Then one day his master would have a commission from a patron and pick up some pattern books to scan for designs or the right iconography for a new project - he would tell the boy where the secret place in the woods for gathering the right wood materials and send the boy off with instructions. Usually a new art piece would be agreed upon about the price for the initial materials and depending on the amount the boy would collect in the forest the wood. The boy would first be taken to the secret spot if it was his first time and shown the correct names of the trees and later he would come back with a strap to measure the girth for correctness for the art piece and chop it down. Then, when the wood was back at the Bottega, the boy would be shown how to cure the wood - that is after it had dried for three-to-four months. After the wood is cured, usually by heating it up, the initial cutting and shaping is the next phase. About nine months later from the onset of meeting the patron to gathering the material to curing the material the master will open up pattern books and summons the patron. The patron will describe what he or she wants and next the master will make what we call blue prints and send them to the patron for approval. Further, meeting take place if necessary. The pattern Books were standard iconography for the Catholic Church. Next stage is that of applying gesso, glue mixed with plaster. Plaster could be made out of bones of dead animals. Layers and Layers of gesso are supplied then sanded until the surface required is achieved. About this time the final decision of the patron is given and artist, in this case, the master begins to gather the pigments. There were no paint stores in those days, so the master had to make his own, including gathering the raw materials. He would take his young apprentice to another undisclosed location usually somewhere high above the city-states to rocky places where raw minerals could be gathered. Later druggists would carry raw materials but the guildsman would  still have to make the product. One back at the Bottega the master would show the apprentice how to grind the raw materials into powder for to make the paste. Once the pigments were made the artist would go to work.

When an apprentice finishes his tour of apprenticing he moves on to another master and another Bottega. This time he has graduated to the level of a journeyman. His parents again must pay this other master for the training. The apprentice field standard was about one and a half to two years tour. Next the daunting task of becoming his own master was under the next phase. This phase he begins to do all the steps up till the final finishing touches on a piece of artwork. As he gets more accomplished he begins to engage in larger more time consuming projects until he hones his skill enough to go the tribunal of guild masters for a vote of induction. Just because he becomes to the age of twenty-one, the age that most journey men turn into masters and begin work doesn't guarantee him the position of master. He must be approved by the elders. Some are never voted in and this is why it was hard for a non-family member of a guild to get into this exclusive club. However, if one had talent one had no problem as that was overlooked most of the time.

The notion of a legal age came from twenty-one years-old when most journey men were promoted to rank of master. Still there were more sticky-points to employment. Before Florence took over politically the surrounding city-states, each city-state had its own autonomous government. The governments did not allow outsiders to take jobs away from another without permission by the representatives. In other words, one had to receive a permit to work outside of ones home town. A master could not wonder and work. In history the great ones were called by important officials in other city-states to come work on a project. As you will see the Middle Ages were devoid of mass-production of art because of the financial hard times. When the economy and the freedom erupted do the the circumstances discussed in the rebirth of classical antiquity art became a culture necessity. A necessity for beatification of ones home and city.

Saint Francis of Assisi, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182 -- the exact year is uncertain; died there, 3 October, 1226 [established the Franciscan order] . AS a rebel in his youth he partied up a storm. One day he renounced this lifestyle and proceeded to live a life of service to the poor and needy. One of his many accomplishments was his commentary on nature and his view that it was man's highest expression to reproduce this function in his everyday life. This meant that art should be modeled after real observations in nature. This helped set the mood of what would happen later in Italy of the opening up of trade, the establishment of banks, which begot the wealthy merchants to employ artisans who would bring art out of the dark ages and into naturalism that we know today.


Florence had an incredible enthusiasm for Plato. The teachings had  a great impact on intellectualism, and intellectualism brought the Florentines strength in opposition to extreme danger from other states that had overwhelmingly stronger armies. It is this new view added on by a little luck that Florence was able to hold  off some fierce attempts to take over the region and place it back under feudalistic systems. It was in essence a spirit resurrected from Plato's work that held a nation at bay, gave a people hope, a began a revolution that change western civilization as we know it today.

General historical terms:

Horizontal lines: These indicate in art, passive, calm, and female

Vertical lines: indicate: Stable but alert

Diagonal lines: indicate unstableness, drama, dynamism,

Repeated diagonal lines: shows stress. Indicated drama.

Shape and Form – shape defines a two-dimensional area while form refers to a three-dimensional area.

Figure – Can be anything with a positive space. Thus buildings in a picture are known as figures.

Low relief – “basrelief, figures exist on nearly the same plane as the background

High relief – with at least half of the figure’s projecting forward from the background.  This causes a greater range of shadowing and a greater three-dimensional effect.

Sunken relief – carving in which the figures are carved into the surface to varying degrees.


Light and Value

Visible light is part of the spectrum of electromagnetic energy that also includes radio waves and cosmic waves.  It is light that makes art possible, appearing as light against dark or dark against light.  In the renaissance the color purple and bluish hues were applied to a system called atmospheric perspective. Evident of this use is in Leonardo de Vinci's   Mona Lisa. The basics for the concept is that the further away from the subjects viewing point the more fuzzy a picture becomes. Blue is traditionally regarded as the correct color of a background - or things that appear in the distance.

In the language of art these are said to be differences in value.  The value of a color of a surface is its lightness or darkness.  It is determined by the amount reflected by the surface – the greater the amount of light reflected, the lighter the surface.  Values are associated with degrees of black, white, and gray.  There are infinites shades of gray between black and white. In Bonze casting there is what is called gilded. this is Bronze base but with a liquid-gold mixture that it applied to the higher-relief's in the artwork. This is to make it appear different color than the backdrop of the main piece of art. This is also a type of Value in the shades of bright vs. darkness are manipulated.  When describing a piece of art, we also characterize the relative lightness and darkness.  This is known as value contrast and refers to the degrees of difference between the shades of gray.  However, in sculpture and architecture we use the terms shades of grey. In painting we use the Italian name chiaroscuro: gradual shifting from light to dark through a successive graduation of tones across a surface. Different applications apply to figures to get the desired result, but the main goal is to create a three-dimensional tone on a two-dimensional surface. This has much correlation to the implementation of linear perspective.

Other usages of of new methods that were banned in the middle ages came to light so-to-speak. The use of overlapping. Overlapping – an object is placed in front of another, overlapping it to give the appearance of three-dimensions.  By obscuring part of an object, it is interpreted as being further away. Yet this had to be done using Leon Battista Alberti's legitimate perspective. In Giotto's Lamentation, in Padua, of the Arena Chapel [1305, Fresco] we see two distinct figures in front of Jesus Christ who do not have halos. This was forbidden in the middle ages to place any type of figure that was obscure a portion of a Saint, Apostle, significant religious figure or Jesus Christ.

The angels appear coming toward us from a blue background and foreshortening (another part of the new concepts employed) is seen applied to make an illusion of the three- dimensional illusion of the Angles coming forward toward Christ. Foreshortening, [ Def.] apparent visual contraction of an object in depth and space] is a an illusion created by the artist to make the body and or with apparel appear natural as if we would see it in nature. This was clearly left out in the middle ages. the true colors of this photo are slightly off and Mary Magdalene, who is attending Jesus' feet has on a red color garment. The color red in iconography in the middle ages meant that this person was from the sinful side of nature - that is if it was worn by a women. For men in the middle ages, red was a typical color, implying strength and warlike abilities. When understanding halos in art in the middle ages, one could always tell if a figure was a significant religious figure by the halo that was spotted over the head. For the people of the middle ages iconography was a substitute for reading and writing. The artists had to tell a story in the picture or series of pictures to get the message across.

            Shading and Modeling – creating the appearance of shadows, to give a fuller appearance.

Modeling: The shaping or fashioning of three-dimensional forms in a soft material, such as clay; also, the gradations of light and shade reflected from the surface of matter in space, or the illusion of such gradations proceeded by alterations of value in a drawing, painting, or print.

Giotto (b. ~ 1266, at Colle, Comunue of Vespignano): realism, grandeur

"M. Müntz instances the way in which Giotto laid antiquity under contribution. In a fresco of the upper church of San Franncesco at Assisi he painted a Roman temple and selected for his example the Temple of Minerva in that town. ( See Les Précurseure de la Renaissance, p. 22) In otherwords he also showed study of classical details. see E. Müntz, Les Premitifs, pp. 226,227." (Giorgio Vasari, Vasari's Lives of the Painters, in  "Lives of  Seventy of the most Eminint Painters, Sculptures, And Architechs," vol. 1., eds. E.H. and E.W. Blashfield & A.A. Hopkins (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1896), page 58, note 27. Gorgio Vasari inends that Giotto "alone succeeded in resusitating art, and restorying her to a path that may be called the true one." (p. 48). Giotto was possibly called to Assisi, a city of Umbria, by Fra Giovanni of Muro, who was then a general of the fraternity of St. Francis. Vasari states “in the upper church at Assisi he painted a series of thirty-two frescoes, representing passages from the life and acts of the saint; namely sixteen on each side, a work which he executed so perfectly as to acquire great fame from it. And, of a truth, there is singular variety in these frescos; not only in the gestures and attitudes of each figure, but also in the composition of all the stories: the different costumes of those times are also represented; and, in all the accessories, nature is most faithfully adhered to.” (pp. 55-56).  Giotto’s representations of St. Francis of Assisi, one such painted at Florence after he had finished the chapel that exhibits not only a new form of realism of the human figure but for the first time landscape, “with many trees and precipices, which was new things in those times.” (p. 58).


Icons, aids to meditation and prayer. Began in Byzantium and moved to the west.

In Greece where Catholicism was used in the Byzantium ( Capital) churches, and other churches in the Roman western region, the dialogue of sermons was kept in the tongue of Greek. Many could not understand and after three days of fasting ( traditionally the length in the early centuries)  the people would become tired. This was a problem. Priests changed to have their backs to the congregation during the Eucharist ceremonies and screens were put up to shield the view  as the people would come in a receive communion. Transubstantiation was important, but so was the people falling to sleep at the time they needed to partake of the Eucharist ceremony. Small pictures of religious figures such as Mary holding her son were placed on the screen right behind the Priests back. This was the people waiting in line had something to do- to focus on - to ultimately keep them awake. This practice took off and Icons as they were called in eastern Rome migrated to the west to become what we know today as alter pieces. Fastings' changed to progressively lesser number of days then hours of a patronage's duty, but the Icons kept there significance.  Today where the priest stands there is usually a beautifully decorated work of art for us to keep our focus. For the eastern Church and the priests back to the congregation it was a necessity to keep one awake. Today it is a beautiful object that we everywhere in all different types of denominations in church buildings. Roman Catholic Eucharist: Transubstantation and the practice of Icon use was around for a very long time in the east. It finally migrated to the west and was given legitimacy. '"Transubstantation" was adopted by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, to describe the Eucharistic mystery. This was reinforced by the Council of Trent (1545-63), which spoke of "a wonderful and singular conversion"' 2

Types of Painting

Fresco – the art of painting on plaster.  Buon fresco, or true fresco, is executed on damp, lime plaster.  Pigments are mixed only with water, and the lime of the plaster wall acts as a binder.  As the wall dries, the paint image becomes permanent.  The other style is fresco secco, painting on dry plaster.  This is a less popular and less permanent method, where pigments are combined with a vehicle of glue that affixes the colour to the dry wall.  Because in true fresco the paint must be applied to fresh, damp plaster, large fresco paintings are composed of small sections, each of which were painted in a day.  Sections were so arranged so that, when possible, the joints between the sections were not obvious (copied do not duplicate or use

Tempera – traditionally made of ground pigments mixed with a vehicle of egg yolk or whole eggs thinned with water (hence the name egg tempera).  Today, however, it describes a medium in which pigment can be mixed with an emulsion of milk, different types of glues or gums, and even the juices and saps of plant and trees.  Dating back to the Greeks and Romans, tempera was the medium of choice for artist during the Middle Ages.  It is extremely durable if applied to a properly prepared surface and pure, brilliant colours are attainable.  While the consistency and fluidity of the mixture allowed for a great deal of precision, it did tend to dry quickly, thus making it difficult to rework.  Also, it cannot provide subtle gradations of tone.

'Tempera was applied to both wood and canvas panels.  Both types of supports were prepared by covering the surface with a ground, generally a combination of powdered chalk or plaster and animal glue called gesso.  This provided a smooth, glistening white surface on which to apply colour. (<>).

Sculpture Definitions


Medici Family:

Gorgio Vasari, The lives of the Artists. Vol. 1 & 2

Linear perspective is used today in modern CAD computer systems and in all special effects seen in movies today. This system was emploied by Western civilization first in Greece then later on in Rome then disappeared until the Roman architecture was studdied by Brunelleschi, who kept it a secret even though his friend Donatello went with him to Rome to study Roman architecture and artifacts - later Brunelleschi will let Donatello in on a secret that will finally be employed and Ghiberti a fast learner will began to apply it and later Alberti will make correction, but only for human figures and he will, also write three treaties on Painting, Sculpture and Architecture that will be employed in western civilization until the 19th Century.

Linear Perspective, in order of first usage.

Filipo Brunelleschi (First use of linear perspective; architecture).

Donatello (First use of relief in the renaissance)

Masaccio ( Disputed and agreed about the same time as Donatello)

Ghiberti ( First use of linear perspective on the gates of Paradise/ Isaac and his sons / Solomon and Queen Sheba))

Alberti ( created 'Human' legitimate perspective)

Perspective [def.]: A formula for producing a three-dimensional illusion on a two-dimensional surface.


Linear perspective – the creation of space determined in strict mathematical terms.  From a fixed vantage point, everything would appear to recede into the distance at the same rate, shaped by imaginary lines called orthogonals.  These met at a single point, known as the vanishing point, which was often placed on the horizon line.  The picture plane is the two-dimensional plane on which the three-dimensional image is created.  There is also two-point perspective, where the lines recede toward two different points.

Brunelleschi, the Sacrifice of Isaac, Panel for competition for north doors of Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, 1401-2, gilded bronze.

Ghiberti, Sacrifice of Issac, Panel for competition for north doors of Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, 1401-2, gilded bronze.

Donatello, Feast of Herod.[ from baptismal front of Siena Cathedral], c. 1425, gilded bronze.  Commissioned by Opera del Duomo of Siena. This is the first relief sculpture in linear perspective of the renaissance era.


Ghiberti, Issac and His Sons ( The Story of Jacob and Easu), [ From the Gates of Paradise], 1425-50, gilded bronze
Donatello, St. Mark, [ from façade of Or San Michele, Florence], marble, 1411-13 [first sculpture in relief ren.]
Donatello, St. George, [ from fcad of Or San Michele, Florence], marble, c. 1415-17
Donatello, David, c.1428-32, bronze

Leon Battista Alberti was an intellectual (theoretician) and humanist advisor to prices and high-culture. He wrote three treaties that are widely vied as foundations of western art today. Alberti never painted or made a statue. He was an architect, although he never fully built structures from the ground up. He mostly did what we call remodeling. In the math section he worked out a formula that solved a particular problem for the artists in the Italian renaissance, and thus later all of western civilization. He corrected Brunellesschi’s linear perspective to be called legitimate perspective. This involved using the human form as the standard mathematical basis in which everything else in the artistic endeavor was modeled to perspective. Now the major role of diminution lay at the standard in the artistic piece of the human form. He published his formulas in treaties: "De Pictura" (1436, dedicated to Brunelleschi), the "De Re Aedificatoria" (1452) and the "De Statua" (1464). These formulas were standard up until the 19th Century. Although, the importance of his work is also seen today in many movies special effects along with the re-founder of the Greek and Roman formulas of perspective in art.

Alberti freed the artist to now imagine in three dimensions on a two dimensional background. This was huge in that today, we call Movies and TV escapism. Escapism is needed to take the dull-drums away from working hard in the read world that responsibility requires. In other words, escapism in moderation is needed in society to relive stress of the real world. This intellectualism that was resurrected in Italy became part of western civilization’s highest form of expression. What is so amazing is that one could now create with the imagination. In art someone can create what is not real and make it real. With perspective it gave the actual visional process of our own eyes the same relationship in the real world to the unreal world. For example, we all see in real life in perspective. In the Middle Age world all artistic work was not - perspective and one can notice of the ill-shaped forms or unrealness of the figures. A figure can be anything in art that takes up positive space. This includes architecture.

Art historians believe that by the time Ghiberti got to the Queen of Sheba and Solomon panel of the Baptistery door of the Florence Cathedral he was employing legitimate perspective or the first use of its form in the renaissance age in bronze casting. Did Plague actually help create legitimate perspective? When the plague moved through Tuscany, many artists and people left the outside world for the insular living arrangements of not going outside in case fear of contacting the plague. The fleas were caring the disease and Ghiberti ((????P))) fearful of contacting it stayed indoors isolating himself from the outside and his work and friends. In the meantime he sat down and worked out formulas for legitimate perspective.

In the renaissance all orthogonal lines disappear at the center of a piece of artwork. Why? This was standard for this period. For they believed that a horizon line too high-up indicated a Claustrophobia feeling. A low horizon line caused too much difficulties for the artist.

Linear perspective was [re]figured out first by Brunelleschi who while in Rome with his friend Donatello discovered the formula while studding ancient architecture of Rome. He didn’t tell Donatello, as was his modus operandi for moist of his life: never letting people in on his secrets, but he divulged this secret later to Donatello who used it about the same time as Masaccio the painter who was also Brunelleschi’s friend. Kept out of the secret was Ghiberti. Brunelleschi and Ghiberti were lifelong rivals. Ghiberti was a quick learner and once he saw a artistic piece with linear perspective he eventually worked out his formula for himself.

"Then in 1457, the year when the German Johann Gutenberg discovered his very useful method for printing books, Alberti similarly discovered a way of tracing natural perspectives and effecting the diminution of figures, as well as a method of reproducing small objects on a large scale; these were very ingenious and fascinating discoveries, of great value for the purposes of art." I-210., From 'De Pictura' (


Medici's influence from a nowhere sheep herder's who used mercantilism concept ( Not a word then) to ascertain a monopoly on the particular sheep that grew fine woolen for textiles to be sold to the world to bring in much money to Tuscany. This way they could use mercantilism to its benefits and keep Florence in the money. They also appeased the churched by supporting it heavily with contributions both in hard currency and promotion of the arts. In a way they were very loyal to the citizenry of Florence. In essence this rings true today in the Italian Mafia in America. They are loyal to America for the most part as their adopted home. 

Cosimo de' Medici, son of Giovanni delle Bande Nere  was a friend to Donatello. This worked for advantages for Donatello in acquiring jobs. The guild's practice  was, however, to give each member jobs according who name appears next on the list. For the commission of marble statues in the notches of the four façades of  Or San Michele one of the most important buildings in Italy, Donatello was next on the list. The Commission was ordered by the Linen Weavers & Draper Guild for a statue of their patron Saint Mark (photo 1411-13). The statue was commissioned by the Arte del Linaioli (Guild of Linen Merchants) for the Church of Orsanmichele. It was placed in a tabernacle in the outer wall of the church. Recently it was removed from its original place for restoration and placed in a museum. 'Saint Mark was the son of a woman called Mary in whose house Peter sought refuge after being freed from jail. He aided Saint Paul and his own cousin Saint Barnabas in the evangelization of Cyprus. Later, Mark became the companion and secretary of Saint Peter in Rome. He wrote the second Gospel, which emphasizes the miraculous powers of the Savior.' 3. His iconography is him holding a book in his hand. The commission did not go to see the artwork in progress, noting that the practice of overseeing had diminished now and freedom of the artists was in his or her discretion , Donatello put forth a very progressive art that was not, at first, wanted by the guild. The art was too real and had St. Mark look shocking to renaissance people. He looked real and Donatello thought that people in later generations would understand the natural look as if her was really standing there. The Guild did not seek out the artist and at first wanted to reject it. but kept it as is. they wanted him to go redo the statue, but he refused.  In those days and before refusing the guilds wishes at most would get one fired, or at least shunned, but Donatello was allowed somehow to carry on in another commission by the guild. Lucky for us his work survived. It taught us the the Italian renaissance artists had more freedom in experiment now and this was a good thing. St. George (photo, as it would appear to the viewer; photo, as it appears strait on - photos taken before the cleaning ) was commissioned by a guild (the Corazzai--the Armorer's guild) and depicts its patron saint.

Ghiberti was not the first sculpture in relief. Donatello employed it with the sculpture Saint George in 1415-17 (Marble) on the same building Or San Michele and the commission was ordered by Guild of Armor and Swords. The Or San Michele building in Florence was the most important because of its purpose. It had chapels, but it was mainly used by the Guild as the headquarters for each one and a granary storage. During wars the farmers would take solace behind the walls of the city. A war of attrition  (The blocking out from the city of supplies) was usually wage and a need for grain during  these periods was for survival. The resurrecting of the Saint's image, but now in modern renaissance warrior costume, was a necessity  for the city. Although, each patron saint had his or her niche in the facade, the importance of this hero reminded the people of Florence to all be citizen soldiers and be keepers of the city by watch. St. George has never been authenticated by the Church to in fact, where he lived. Some have him living in c. 3 Ad while others link him with the crusades. For example, one of the stories goes that there was a king in Libya who was battling a dragon and this dragon ate his people and caused mayhem generally speaking. So the king entered an unholy alliance  with the dragon if he let the people alone he would allow the dragon to consume a virgin from time-to-time. However, there was a problem, the king had a daughter and he made provisions for the people that one girl would be chosen by lottery. the king fixed the lottery so that his daughters name would never come up. One day his daughter found out and was extremely guilty so she herself rigged the lottery so she would not lose. When the king kept picking up his slips in a bowl with her name on them, he kept making excuses that he could not read them. Soon his daughter coped to the scheme and told him that she rigged the event, just how he did. George was a knight for the crusaders....

Here is the photo of the relief.

This civic work helped to create pride and commodore (Sp?) of its citizens who were being assailed at that time by the army of Naples, whom were overruled by the French who were in a battle with Italy to which location the Papacy was to be stationed? In France or Rome? George has on 15th Century armor and not 3d or 11th Century armor and this added to the relevancy of the time. The message to the Florins were  " You can spring into action." Underneath the statue is a relief of St. George on a horse with a spear slaying the dragon. The Dragon is viewed as the Devil, or in a secular case the heathen, or Arabs- if related to the crusades. the use of contrapposto in the statue shows action or readiness. George appears to have his eyes fixed on a distant object as if he is waiting for something - the enemy.

The cleaning of the statues was first done by the Italian government with sandblasting that pits the surface, The next procedure decision was to use high-pressure water. When they got around to cleaning the statue of David they decided to use water on a rag. They since took the statues down and placed them in museums.


Relief: Lower the relief the closer the image appears in a work of art. This is called vertical placement.  The higher the relief the further away a piece of art is. This is also in regards to light. The further away light from the observers eye and images the more blurry they become. This was atmospheric perspective.

At this

Donatello's David. 1428-32 ( Check this website has  marble, 1408-09 (reworked 1416)


Constantine began the legitimizing of the Church's power in the public arena which helped the Church hold power in the dark  ages.
Constantine’s Mother:
Flavia Iulia Helena, also known as Saint Helena and Helena of Constantinople, (AD c.248 - c.329). How the cross on the shields fits into your speech: Helena is traditionally credited with the finding of relics of the cross of Christ (see True Cross for the story). She more than anyone would know how to impart this to her son – at least as the image and what should the standard measuring aspects of the symbol. ...a fiery cross in the sky, with the inscription "By this sign shalt thou conquer" Crisis of the third century, 235 - 275 CE The Crisis of the 3rd Century is a commonly applied name for the crumbling and near collapse of the Roman Empire between 235 and 275 CE. During this period, Rome was ruled by more than 35 individuals, most of them prominent generals who assumed Imperial power over all or part of the empire, only to lose it by defeat in battle, murder, or death. After 35 years of this, the Empire was on the verge of death, and only the military skill of Aurelian, one of Rome's greatest emperors, restored the empire to its natural boundaries. See: Crisis of the Third Century

The Tetrarchs, a porphyry sculpture sacked from a Byzantine palace in 1204, Treasury of St. Marks, Venice
The Tetrarchy ("leadership of four") was a system of government created in 293 AD by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in order to solve serious military and economic problems in the Roman Empire. This involved dividing his power over the empire into east and west sectors: he retained control of the East and his colleague Maximian controlled the west. Eight years later, feeling more focus was needed on both civic and military problems, he furthered the division of power by naming one "Junior Emperor", or Caesar, under each "Senior Emperor", or Augustus. Thus the Tetrarchy, a rule of four, was established and lasted until c. 324.
The first tetrarchs were
• Diocletian, Augustus of the East
• Galerius, Caesar of the East
• Maximian, Augustus of the West
• Constantius, Caesar of the West.

See: Tetrarchy

The Catholic Church missrepresented a true Christendom. For example, the three figures depicted in the private art ( today public) in the Sistine Chapel, was Constantine, Moses and Jesus. They believed Moses created the pathway for the coming of Jesus, and they fell back to the issue that the popes were representatives of modern day Moses'. What this meant was that Mosaic laws applied to them and evil could be rectified in racism. Although, Moses laws have a moral identify, they happen to list many laws that are deemed racial whereas, Jesus' laws do not have racism at all. Furthermore, two centuries before the reformation (1417 Oct. 31) dissatisfaction of the populous over Church authority abusing its power was creeping into a movement to overthrow the now fragmented Church.

Rudolph II
Winter and Summer

Giuseppi Archimbaldo, Winter, 1563, oil on canvas. (Louvre, Paris, France)

Giuseppi Archimbaldo, Summer, 1563, oil on canvas. (Louvre, Paris, France.)

Giuseppi Archimbaldo, Water, 1563, oil on canvas. (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.)


Vertumnus Roman god of the seasons (1563).

Being painted into humor, [Rudolph II of Prague (portrait)] one style is called phantasmagoria. The king was so confident of his abilities he didn't mind being portrayed in this light of humor. Also, not everyone was OK with paganism when these art renderings first appeared. Paganism in the Catholic Church was discouraged. Rudolf was the first son and successor of Maximillian. Acceding to the Habsburg lands. this was a German ruler. Prague being one of the major cities in visual arts , like architecture and art and non- visuals like music. Art moved away from Florence after the Bonfire of the Vanities episode - it branched out to the rest of Europe, but not without the twenty-five-year run in the Papal States that equated the high-renaissance period ( Short, but significant).

Fruits, like oranges and lemons came form the new world and thus they were delicacies, and also the titles of the like of Duke of Orange. So many oragnes are seen in important paintings of this period. This symbolized expansionism.

The Medici hit a road block by one of the happenstances that history throws into the mix. A fanatical person arises and manages to get the people behind him by telling half-truths and changing the direction of the community or state. ( on prime example is Hitler). Here, in Florence, and crazed man named Savanarola, took the Churches twisted importance ( remember they had been crooked) to extremism of fanaticism, and called for the burning of all humanistic art. Many paintings were taken off walls and thrown onto bonfires in street protests of secularization. These times were called Bonfire of the Vanities. The final result after the hysteria left and

Savanarola was finally himself burned at the stake, was that the Medici were kicked out and blamed ( Why he was still an influence) and the artists left Florence for other regions. This was the final high-point for the beginning of modernism, and Florence never recovered to the great glory days.

Meanwhile, The Papal states in Rome beniffited and many young artists who we all know showed up on her doorstep looking for jobs. It is this short twenty-five year period that is known thought the world as the high-renaissance period in art: Michelangelo, Raphael, Perugino, Leonardo de Vinci, and Boticelli.


Donatello, St. Mark [ from facade of Or San Michele, Florence], marble, 1411-13. Commissioned by Guild of linen and Draperies.  He reintroduce the old Greek concept of contrapposto ( weight-shift).

Donatello, St. George [ from facade of Or San Michele, Florence], marble, 1415-17. Commissioned by Guild of armorers and swordmakers. Themes: to defends from tyrants like Visconti & Ladislaus (r. 1399-1414).


Masaccio Tribute Money, Branacci Capel, Santa Maria Carmine, Florence. Fresco. 1425 (light logic)

Masaccio Expulsion of Adam & Eve, Branacci Capel, Santa Maria Carmine, Florence. Fresco. 1425.  (light logic)

Masaccio Holy Trinity, Capel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence. Fresco. 1425. Donor of funds, Lorenzo Lenzi, then wife. Estimated 1425 ( not certain).

Donatello, David, Palazzo Medici-Riccardo, Florence. Bronze sculpture. First nude sculpture since ancient times. ( commissioned by Cosimo for private viewing). 1428.

Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino (ca. 1450-1523) was among a group of people, including Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and Luca Signorelli, to decorate with frescoes on the walls of the newly completed Sistine Chapel. Christ Delivering The Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter is remarkable historical symbol of the times in western history. The papacy, had from the beginning, based its claim to infallible and total authority over the Roman Catholic Church on this biblical event. In Perugino’s version we have much of the total history laid out in detail with ironic symbols, unbeannounce,  political iconography.

Christ hands the keys to the kingdom to Saint Peter, standing at the center of the Twelve Apostles and portraits of Renaissance contemporaries. Intervening space worked out by the rules in Alberti’s treaties are distant compositional elements to the story at large. Here we find a central plan temple on the apex and it is on a central axis about the third spacial interval level back ( there are four) and at the corners of the great piazza, to the left and the right,  stand duplicate Constantine triumphal arches  ( Perugino uses parallel lines and converging lines in the pavement to mark off the intervening space).  Figures in the middle distance compliment the figures in the near distance,  but half of the middle distant characters are strikingly different in symbolism as connected to the near figures. This plays a significant role to the church and to the subliminal theme they may not have acknowledge or fully understood.               

The Constantine arches remind viewers of the ties between the Church’s beginnings and the emperor. The figure of Jesus, who is holding the Keys, as he hands them of to Peter are on the central axis: Jesus slightly to the right and Peter sightly to the left. The temples door on the axis and the vanishing point,  makes a triangle ( Symbol of strength) with Christ and Peter. Saint Peter is    by the Churches view the first pope, al coming after him having the power and the authority over Christendom is what is supposed to be read. This and the Constantine arches that are on the same spacial interval as the temple. This draws our attention to the power and the strength of the Roman Catholic Church.  Now here is where it gets good. The second spacial interval are two groups of renaissance dressed groups of people. The key is the directional reading of this symbolism. When reading a painting the reader must read it from the paintings vantage point. That is if your eyeballs are in the painting looking out at you. This means that the right is to your left and the left is to your right.  To the right is a group of orderly genital peaceful renaissance dressed peoples and is connected to Christ who is slightly right of the axis plane of the picture.  To the left is a group of disorderly confused renaissance dressed people and is connected to Peter who is being handed the keys to the kingdom. The connection is when Constatine created the church and the Roman Empire fell politically leftward in its cource the western civilizaiton fell into darkness and the political left had absolute control as the Roman Church docrine envisioned itself as the absolute rule of the land. This did play itself out in the many stages of the political stages in the middle ages. The ironicies here is that when secularism established itself and right-wing pragmatic civics came into the political picture of Italy the renaissance period established the seed to take out the left polical strangle hold and abolish feudalism and create protestant ( Protests) to further diminish the Church’s power to bring in the age of enlightenment and the modern periods that helped the western civilization create the greatest advancements in history of earth. Did Perugino understand this symbolism? No, of course not. But is is highly relevant to the final outcome and diminishing of the Church’s stranglehold on Europe? You bet.

Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510) The Birth of Venus, ca. 1482. Tempura on Canvas ( Streched over tightly on a wood panel.

Theme: A poem on that theme by Angelo Poliziano, on of the leading humanists of that day, inspired by Botticelli to create this lyrical image. Botticelli among the best known artists to work for the Medici.

Tribute Money 1425

Adam and Eve’s expulsion 1425

The Holy trinity [ time disputed ]1425 First painting to use Linear Perspective

Commissioned by Felice Brancacci, a prominent Florentine who was also a humanist [most belived]. This was a oriented private Chapel, that became a tourist attraction during the renaissance. The Church: Santa Maria del Carmine - a traditional Basilica.

Awkward narrow space at the entrance of the Brancacci Adam & Eve was painted.

St. Peter regarded as the first pope by Catholic. Fresco program. The papacy who only recently returned to Rome began a program to make Rome a thriving new city of intellect and artistry. This was in leu of making people notice that Rome was the place on Earth to have the papacy forevermore. It is a stroke of luck that humanism and the renaissance began in Florence. Yet, there was a conflict within this new humanizing. It was taking chances and possible the reason why Rome became the place people looked to imitate in new-age thinking, at that time. This did mean that there was no opposition. There was.                                          

Brancacci: a narrative work in sequence [ Three episodes]. First to the left was the Adam & Eve walking the same direction as sequence and were placed high on the wall. This was the first use of light source. The use of value was superb.

The Tribute Money was the Biblical account of the tribute money payed to the tax collector.  This was the first in artistic concept of the separation of Church and State. On a more mundane level the taxation was seen as a way to keep the army in supplies because Italy was always experiencing wars by inner and outer foes. In the Roman town of Capernaum the apostles and Jesus are approached by a tax collector. [The Gospel of Matthew] Pay the tax collector like paying the Roman toll rode in Israel.  Even the people of Roman and foreign countries understood that civilization was a community thing and paying toll roads helped pay off labor and was a civic thing. They just called it tribute money. Like Contribute [ to the building of the road]. Jesus had no problem with this.

Part of the picture shows more than one Peter. He is fishing because he looked in his purse and had no gold coins. This was the first single consistent light source in painting in the renaissance and natural light the source looks outstanding. Ariel perspective and diminishing of light cap off the first uses that would become standard later on. Although ancient Roman painters used ariel perspective it is Masaccio who brings it back. Michelangelo will see this and take it to the extreme.

Masaccio also made many circle conferences that in this work is most well known. Jesus the the center is surrounded by his apostles and others in conversation. It is Jesus who is the center and people look real. From their muscles to their clothes hanging from gravity the realism for a fresco is outstanding. Remember that until oil based paints arrived tempura was with yellow egg-yoke and one shot deals were all that it could be in laying out the artistic work. Other themes: Peter, is the Church and the money is the church. Peter fishing(commerce) , Peter painting (artistic Work) , Peter giving money to the tax collector is all themes of the renaissance (

the civil government).    Brancacci supported the tax collectors for the good of the citizens. There were fights about how much to tax and how much to not tax. This parallels the Iraq War II ( 2003-5) in that people didn’t see spending the surplus of taxes on a war and tax breaks and the people of Florence, also Rome didn’t see eye-to-eye on tax for a military to defend itself against outside forces. The left wing really has a hard time with reality. They really believed that no one could get to them or even, for the matter, wanted to come in and destroy the vary lifestyle they lived. This is similar. People didn’t want to pay for war in the Untied States, and rather see it go to domestic issues. The same thing happened at this time in Florence and soon Rome.

Vanishing points are sometimes subliminal. This is why the linear perspective is used in all standard art of the day. For example, all computer graphics beginning and still with Auto Cad, and now in all movies use these vanishing points as mathematical formulas to draw ones attention to a particular theme. This is because of liner perspective.

Atmospheric perspective is employed in the value of light the further away it gets the more fuzzy and blue-to-purple. Purple has red or the longer wavelength in it and appear as one sees the further away from their vantage point. And, yes, this has to do with the atmosphere, or we would never see the blue sky which has oxygen molecules.

These frescos are the studies for the other artists to come in light-logic. Masaccio was truly important.

General accusations of painters like Raphael.

Even though many critics thought some painters like Rapheal were a a copy-cat, not understanding that all great painters first copied the masters before they became one, cannot understand the truly valuable gifts these painters brought to the artistic stage that launched the renaissance and the west to greatness [ much contention was because he lived a short life] .

After Masaccio patrons became demanding of painters to use linear perspective. This really happened after his triump in the Holy trinity that became a Europan sensation.

Adam and Eve’s expulsion 1425

Rib-cages, muscle abdomen are convulsed as the subject appears to be crying. This was monumental in anatomy of the human body in art.  The use chiaroscuro employed.  Naturalistic anatomy with greater interest in the body than previously.

Overlap with Adam's foot on the gate of paradise. Eve’s treatment of nudity still more conservative than men who would shortly be displayed as nudes. Even though OK’d by the Church, eve was done with conservative respect. Thus not as much detail as men yet. This is about seventy-five years before live female nudes will pose for artists.  Before live nude models the artists looked at nude sculptures from Rome and Greek periods which were uncovered and brought out into the open.

This was the last work of Masaccio at the age of 27. His life was short but significant.

Botticelli  (1444-1510) Venus Pudica ( Modest Venus). So famous a pose that albeit the 19th Century this pose is often seen in artistic work - she in the similar pose. People though Masaccio used as a guide the Venus de Medici, but evidence suggests that the Medicic’s didn’t ascertain the stature before Masaccio painted this fresco.  Also called light-logic - a single unified light source.  Light strikes eve first. Then we look at light value with the shadows. ( also in tribute money).

One of the questions why did the artist  leave Florence and go to Rome?

Uccello, Paolo. Perpective Drawing, 1450, c. pencil, also called silver point - residue created marks like a pencil in a drawing of a chalice excludes two dimensional to a three dimensional drawing. The use of compression and the math makes linear perspective so much more assessable to drawers once they calculate and find the system. This means that anyone can draw great - but it takes time to map out the math. One a artist become good at this he or she simple can free hand this.  The level and training exposes the artist to ways to get the job done. First pencil in the outlines then the rest is fill in the color. Uccello became obsessed with perspective, according to Vasari. This was a saving labor intensive tool now.                  

Meanwhile, The Papal states in Rome benefited and many young artists who we all know showed up on her doorstep looking for jobs. It is this short twenty-five year period that is known thought the world as the high-renaissance period in art: Michelangelo, Raphael, Perugino, Leonardo de Vinci, and Boticelli.

Brunelleschi Last Work

Brunelleschi began the Pazzi Chapel, [ Sya. Croce , Florence], c. 1440-61, masonry, but died before he was finished. Maiano finished it.

'Pazzi Chapel was designed with a twelve-ribbed hemispherical dome on pendentives above a square extended into an oblong by the addition of barrel-vaulted bays on two of its sides. In keeping with its function as a chapter house, a low bench runs along the walls of the room; opposite the entrance a smaller altar chapel, square and domed, opens from the eastern wall. Similar to the Old Sacristy, but more intricate in pattern and more decorative in effect, is the clear-cut arch and pilaster articulation of the pale stucco walls, with framed circles afloat in spaces left free in the geometric system...

This small, brilliant structure represented a high point in early Renaissance style. Cerebral, rational, and serene, it was a marked contrast to the dynamics of Gothic architecture." 5'

Nestled and connected to the Church of Santa Croce,  Brunelleschi last work was in working with neo-Platonic concepts. After he died the portico and frieze were finished by Giuliano da Maiano. A groin vault system, trinity a Roman symbolic plan and Roman arches for the porticio the mathematical uses of neo-platonism align-up with the square models that appear on the façade. That is if you measure in the inside detentions and the outside dimensions they all line-up mathematically to each other at different scales. Otherwise the golden mean is employed. Also used in Classical Greece.  Brunelleschi thinks holistically  when he built the Pazzi Chapel. The Pythagorean basic laws of the size of the small part relates to the size of the larger part as it relates to the whole (scales). Thus the golden rule in which the Greek philosophers belived that nature grows and expands by and also its pattern, noted by Plato, makes up the concept of what is beautiful in nature. The Pazzi Chapel had this system employed for its architecture and  Brunelleschi believed in its simplicity or holisticness much more appealing that the over ornamented  dress-up of Gothic architecture.

Pazzi Chaple was alos home to Franciscan Monks for some assemblies. The Chaple was also connected to the Church of Santa Croce so that Prists could go back and forth because there was a room to put religious artifacts for service.


Roof, inside view of the cupola, Filippo Brunelleschi Inside (Detail),   Giuliano da Maiano probably designed the porch that now precedes the chapel    6.



central or centralized plan

Brunelleschi use of Roman Temple designs began an old use of centralizing structures - the use that was first employed by the Romans. Occlusion is a use of a centralized plan. Geometrically it was thought to be the best plan.  The center of the structure is simultaneously equal distance to all other walls and structure. For example. the Pantheon was a circular structure with all equal sides to all walls simultaneously.




Column, vertical architectural support, circular or polygonal in plan. A column is generally at least four or five times as high as its diameter or width.


Western architecture, the capital (from the Latin caput, 'head') forms the crowning member of the column


A superstructure which lies horizontally upon the columns in classic architecture. It is divided into three parts: the architrave (the supporting member carried from column to column); the frieze (the decorative portion); and the cornice (the crowning and projecting member). Each of the orders has its appropriate entablature, of which both the general height and the subdivisions are regulated by a scale of proportion derived from the diameter of the column. It is occasionally used to complete, architecturally, the upper portion of a wall, even when there are no columns, and in the case of pilasters or detached or engaged columns is sometimes profiled round them. 4



A roofed space using columns or posts, generally included between a wall and a row of columns or between two rows of columns.


A column connected to a wall with only half of its dimensions showing.




An Arcade is a series of arches that make up pathway usually linked with portico.





Masaccio, one of the youngest of all painters who lived a short life contributed hugely to the painting community and ultimately the renaissance.  Masaccio's work influenced great artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raffaello to name a few.

The Holy trinity, [Santa Maria Novella, Florence], c 1425-8, fresco;  the Expulsion of Adam and Eve, 1425, fresco [ from Branaccai Chapel, Florence].

The Holy trinity was the first painting to have applied by Massacio linear perspective. "La Trinità" (the Trinity) to be found in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence was where a tourist trap in the renaissance period became known and Massacio' fame. Here he imployed old and new techniques that made this painting appear as it was part of the building

and not a painting at all (the illusion of a space that does not in fact exist but which our eye, deceived, perceives as real).

Lorenzo Lenzi ( Commissioned Holy trinity)  died before the commission was completed. We can see scenes of his wife mourning in black to the bottom left of the Picture ( We see from th pictures vantage point). It is most likely she finished the commission, even though women were not heirs to the fortunes bceause females were not allowed to inherit and estates went to the first male born.


Brancacci Chapel


Frescoes in St. Maria del Carmine - Brancacci Chapel


Together with Tommaso di Cristoforo Fini  known as Masolino da Panicale, Masaccio painted some of his most important works at the Branacci Chapel, Florence. The expulsion of Adem and Eve, c. 1425, and The tribute Money, c. 1425-7, fresco make up important work by him.

Neo Platonism was Plato's teachings/theories but expanding or adding on to them. Roman architect and mathematician wrote on Platonism and expounded upon the ideal geometrical forms in architecture. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio treaties title was called the Ten Books on Architecture. Vitruvius books reached the Renaissance without illustrations. This was a drawback, however it was better then nothing. Vitruvius  drew upon Platonism and the Greek thoughts in art and architecture.  He argues that perfect plan for a temple was the centralized plan incorporating the circle and square. These have special meanings of there own. Harmony and the macrocosm was seen as the perfect circle. thus it represented the heavens, especially when albeit astronomers believed the orbits of the planets traveled in perfect circles.  The Square, which still has equal distances to the walls sides from the center ( equal distance to all parameters at center) indicated the finite world of earth and physical plan. This is where, in the Church, man fell and was gobbled up by sin and imperfectness. Therefore the square was imperfect as the earth and the physical was imperfect. Plato believed the hidden aspect of life, the unforeseen, metaphysical was a perfect place and that perfection from this place could be rendered into the physical plane. Although, we do not know how far he took this thought.

Alberti transcribed Marcus Vitruvius Pollio books so that people in Italy, such as Masaccio and Botticelli and other artists could read them. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is the author of De Architectura, the Ten Books of Architecture, an ancient Roman treatise on architecture and perhaps the first work about this discipline. Vitruvius declared that fame depended upon a  social relevance of the artist's work, not on the work by itself. The resurrecting of the Greek thought that outer beauty reflected inner intelligence will shortly also come about in The Book of Etiquette. The Greek thought was what resurrected the Italians in which began a title wave to wash all over Europe bring the reawakening of intelligence from the emotional dark period of the Dark and Middle ages.

Sandro Botticelli. Primavera. c. 1482. Panel, 6'8'' x 10'4". Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Perugino  Now he places transparent halos on the religious figures. Halos become slowly more smaller, transparent and less important as religious figures are not represented next to regular people with the same height and same clothes.

Lorenzo de Medici also called Lorenzo the Magnificent

 Gardner’s Terms:                     


arcade—A series of arches supported by piers or columns.

arch—A curved structural member that spans an opening and is generally composed of wedge-shaped blocks (voussoirs) that transmit the downward pressure laterally. A diaphragm arch is a transverse, wall-bearing arch that divides a vault or a ceiling into compartments, providing a kind of firebreak. See also thrust.

architrave— The lintel or lowest division of the entablature; sometimes called the epistyle.

attic—In architectural terminology, the uppermost story.

bottega— A shop; the studioshop of an Italian artist.

Byzantium (adj. Byzantine)— The Christian Eastern Roman Empire, which lasted until 1453, when Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Turks.

capital—The uppermost member of a column, serving as a transition from the shaft to the lintel. The form of the capital varies with the order.

codex (pl. codices)— Separate pages of vellum or parchment bound together at one side and having a cover; the predecessor of the modern book. The codex superseded the rotulus. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, a painted and inscribed book on long sheets of bark paper or deerskin coated with fine white plaster and folded into accordion-like pleats

cornice—The projecting, crowning member of the entablature framing the pediment; also, any crowning projection.

Eucharist— In Christianity, the partaking of the bread and wine, which believers hold to be either Christ himself or symbolic of him.

facade— Usually, the front of a building; also, the other sides when they are emphasized architecturally.

fresco— Painting on lime plaster, either dry (dry fresco or fresco secco) or wet (true or buon fresco). In the latter method, the pigments are mixed with water and become chemically bound to the freshly laid lime plaster. Also, a painting executed in either method.

icon—A portrait or image; especially in the Eastern Christian churches, a panel with a painting of sacred personages that are objects of veneration. In the visual arts, a painting, a piece of sculpture, or even a building regarded as an object of veneration.

iconography— Literally, the “writing of images.” The term refers both to the content, or subject, of an art work and to the study of content in art. It also includes the study of the symbolic, often religious, meaning of objects, persons, or events depicted in works of art.
iconostasis— The large icon-bearing chancel screen that shuts off the sanctuary of a Byzantine church from the rest of the church. In the Eastern Christian churches, a screen or a partition, with doors and many tiers of icons, separating the sanctuary from the main body of the church.

lunette— A semi-circular area (with the flat side down) in a wall over a door, a niche, or a window.

modeling—The shaping or fashioning of three-dimensional forms in a soft material, such as clay; also, the gradations of light and shade reflected from the surfaces of matter in space, or the illusion of such gradations produced by alterations of value in a drawing, painting, or print.

module—A basic unit of which the dimensions of the major parts of a work are multiples. The principle is used in sculpture and other art forms, but it is most often employed in architecture, where the module may be the dimensions of an important part of a building, such as a column, or simply some commonly accepted unit of measurement (the centimeter or the inch, or, as with Le Corbusier, the average dimensions of the human figure). See Pazzi Chapel facade squares

molding—In architecture, a continuous, narrow surface (projecting or recessed, plain or ornamented) designed to break up a surface, to accent, or to decorate.     

Naturalism—The doctrine that art should adhere as closely as possible to the appearance of the natural world. Naturalism,with varying degrees of fidelity to appearance, recurs in the history of Western art.
nave—The part of a church between the chief entrance and the choir, demarcated from aisles by piers or columns.
nave arcade—In basilica architecture, the series of arches supported by piers separating the nave from the side aisles.

oculus (pl., oculi)— The round central opening or “eye” of a dome. Also, small round windows in Gothic cathedrals. See: Florence Cathedral.

pilaster—A flat, rectangular, vertical member projecting from a wall of which it forms a part. It usually has a base and a capital and is often fluted.

trompe l’_œil— A form of illusionistic painting that attempts to represent an object as existing in three dimensions at the surface of the painting; literally, “fools the eye.”

weight shift—See contrapposto

vellum—Calfskin prepared as a surface for writing or painting, one of the materials which comprised the leaves of a codex.

Work Cited:

1. Photo: (

2.Cephas Ministry Inc. The Eucharist and the Gospel  2004.

3. Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003

tid-bits. Before 4th Century we found no art portraits of Jesus thus we cannot get a clear picture of the man.

def. (Definition)

4. New Advent. THOMAS H. POOLE  The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. 1909 <>2004.

5.  Kevin Matthews 1994-2004 <>2004.

reference: Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p286-7.

6.  Hidden Italy * Bettina Röhrig Museums of Florence  <>2004.

7. The Galileo Project The Medici Family 1995. <>2004.


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