Italy around 1400 – Map
The fact that the early Renaissance began in Italy is no surprise as this was a country that had long supported classical art during the Roman Empire and even though the stylistic and humanistic concerns were forgotten or ignored in favor of the more religious institution-focused Middle Ages, the art and the classical texts were there and simply needed to be rediscovered.
In this Chapter 14, for your discussion forum, the focus of the early Renaissance in Italy will center around the newly “rediscovered” “re-birthed” interest in Humanism. Humanism, which can be defined as a concern or interest in the human values and interests aside from or separate from religious values. Humanism demonstrates a change in focus to the here and now, rather than simply viewing life as a thing to be endured until the after-life. Simultaneously, an renewed interest in the natural world and scientific research point to the Renaissance as a period of inquiry and curiosity.
In the arts, the depiction of the human figure begins to take on a more realistic form, with mass, weight, light and shadow. Like in the Classical period, a more naturalistic view of the human begins to develop in the paintings and frescoes of religious figures.
While there are many important painters that you will read about in your textbook that usher in the new naturalistic pictorial approaches to depicting both figures and space, a particularly interesting figure hailed from Sienna, Italy.
Pietro Lorenzetti was the student of the great master Duccio, who made great strides in the humanization of religious figures. Lorenzetti took it a step further by painting religious events in Italian domestic settings. One such painting depict the Birth of the Virgin. (Below and on page 415) He made great strides in pictorial realism in how he approached the figures, the setting, the architectural details and in how he organized the space to create the illusion of depth.
In order to learn more about this painting and painter. Go to:
In the discussion question (See the discussion forum) focus on the following ideas to answer the question:
- pictorial solidity
- spatial depth