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The Birth of Venus, Botticelli (c.1490)

ITALIAN RENAISSANCE Humanities Honors 2011 Catalog of Gallery Projects


Table of Contents

Lydia Spassof


Michael Gerolemou


Alex Andronikos


Sarah Samad


Katalina Holland


Raneen Haidis


Megan Sanchez


Shaping Renaissance Art with Drama, Simplicity, and New Techniques: Masaccio (1401-1428)

Aria Fisilani


Master of the Early Renaissance:

Kevin Spaulding


The Father of the Renaissance: Giotto (1267-1337)

The Traditional Innovator: Martini (1284-1344)

Renaissance Architect and Engineer: Brunelleschi (1337-1446) Master of the Doors: Ghiberti (1378-1455)

Sculpting Human Expression: Donatello (1386-1466)

The Angelic Painter: Fra Angelico (1387-1455)

Sculptor and Artist: Della Robbia (1399-1482)

Piero Della Francesca (1416-1492)


A Man of Beauty: Botticelli (1445-

Kyveli Stenos


Maria Kormpou


Daphne Cavadias


Naya Schulein


Evi Sotiropoulos


Rachel Todd


Isabel Aharonian



The Florentine Narrator: Ghirlandaio (1449-1499)

Florentine Artist, Great Master of the High Renaissance: Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

The Humanist: Michelangelo Sculpture (1475-1564)

Grander than Life: Michelangelo Painting (1475-1564)

The Great Harmonizer: Raphael (1483-1520)

Venetian School Colorist: Titian (1488-1576)


Forward The Renaissance was a time of celebration in Italy. It was also a time of self-discovery and the rebirth of classical humanism. But above all, the Renaissance was a time of innovation. The artistic freedom of the Renaissance spurred the development of new artistic techniques and styles. Artists were increasingly able to paint and sculpt what they wanted, how they wanted. From Martini to Michelangelo, the Renaissance is characterized by a multitude of unique styles. Yet each style was united with an undying passion for humanism. Whether depicting the Virgin and Child or a scene from ancient mythology, the art of the Renaissance exudes confidence in the human condition. Artists were now proud to depict humans, they were proud to be human. During the Renaissance, “man was a little lower than the angels”. As you browse through the pages of this catalog, contemplate the humanism present in every artist. These artists lived in a time of celebration of human creativity – they were truly confident in the capacity of man. To them, human nature was perfectible.

Rachel Todd

Course Instructors: Ms. Jan Karvouniaris, Ms. Kathy Jasonides Teaching Assistant Second Semester: Ms. Amalia Zavacopoulou Formatting: Isabel Aharonian Editorial Team: Rachel Todd, Katalina Holland


The Father of the Renaissance: Giotto Di Bondone Pre-Renaissance (1267-1337)

Giotto Di Bondone is known as one of the greatest Italian PreRenaissance painters, sculptors and architects who created some of the most beautiful pieces of religious art during his lifetime. Born in Florence, he lived from 1267- 1337. During this period of time, the society’s minds and talents were first being released from the medieval restraints. Giotto’s talent was discovered by a very well known Florentine painter by the name of Cimabue, who saw the young Giotto sketching one of his father's sheep on a flat rock. He was so astonished that he persuaded the father to let Giotto become his pupil. Giotto showed his talent by creating art that dealt mainly with traditional religious subjects, but found ways to develop them by adding an earthly, forceful life to them. His work broke away from the

Lamentations Over the Body of Christ, 1304-1306, Arena Chapel


conservative, solemn and stiff style of Byzantine painting, because he found ways of experimenting with more drama, immediacy and expression. The Italians believe that Giotto himself began a new epoch/era of art. Giotto’s earliest works began with a series of frescoes (paintings on fresh, wet plaster.) The subject matter of these frescos was the life of St. Francis in the church at Assisi. Each one of these pieces depicts an incident in St. Francis' life. Next, between 1305 and 1306, Giotto painted another series of frescoes, 38 to be precise, which are held in the Arena Chapel in Padua and are about the life of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary. These compositions are simple, elegant, and the faces of his figures are full of emotion and expression. In comparison to later artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Giotto lacked the technical knowledge of anatomy and perspective that painters learned. However he had an impeccable understanding of human emotion and its significance in a person’s life. He concentrated on these elements, and created illustrations of his figures with conditions such as stress and sadness, involved in crisis and soul-searching decisions. Artists often found their inspirations concerning the approach to human experience from studying Giotto's work. Giotto is also considered to be one of the founders of the central tradition of Western painting because his work broke free from the stylized, austere, and serious tone of Byzantine art. He introduced contemporary ideals of naturalism and the technique of creating

Madonna and Infant Jesus, with Saints and Angels, 1304-1306

a convincing sense of pictorial space. Giotto’s figures were bulky, heavy, solemn and slow-moving. His most characteristic feature found in every one of his pieces, was the darkened eyes of his figures. Lamentations over Body of Christ was a fresco created in 1304-1306 and is now held in the Arena Chapel, in Padua. This illustration depicts the scene when Christ was crucified and was taken down from the cross. There


are many figures in the scene, however not all facing the viewer's perspective, similar to his Last Supper where there are several people with their backs faced towards the viewer. The figures' sadness spills out from their bodies and over Christ. Foreshortening is a technique used by Giotto and can be seen throughout the illustration, even if it creates some disproportion. He also used light and shadow to give volume to the figures, their clothing and the landscape. It beautifully shows Giotto’s style, in which he adapted the traditional Byzantine iconography of the scene to create an emotional representation that attracts the viewers in this intimate scene. Giotto's depiction of the figures faces and emotion set his art work and style apart any other artist.

The Last Supper, 1304-1306, Arena Chapel

His figures depicted a new compassion for the human being and had a realistic representation of space. Giotto’s work is dramatic, mainly created from the built up mountainous backgrounds, elements of water, and different planes throughout. Using architecture, Giotto managed to expand on his characteristic of space and depth. His figures are all placed within these conventions which include structures such as homes, arches, thrones, and other confined architectural spaces. His architectural elements have a big success in that they add to the illustration, without taking away from it.

In Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna made in 1310, one can observe the technique of perspective used, and his characteristic darkened eyes. By packing the figures closely together and on different levels thorough the painting, Giotto creates the illusion of a plane, or real space. He also manages to show grief and tragedy in his scenes without necessarily needing to show figures' facial expressions, or face at all. Additionally, he adopted the Gothic feature of putting more than one scene in a painting as can be seen in his Nativity of the Virgin, when Mary is being born, she is receiving gifts, and is being fed.


Giotto received a big honor from the city of Florence in 1334, where he received the title of Magnus Magister (Great Master) and was appointed city architect and superintendent of public works. In the meantime, he designed the famous bell tower for the Duomo in Florence, but never got the chance to finish it, as he died in 1337 in Florence. Giotto had a great influence on the art, not only of his generations, but the generations even after his death. His art declined with the growth of International Gothic, but was later an inspiration to other great artists such as Masaccio and Michelangelo.

Nativity of the Virgin, 1305, Scrovegni Chapel


Works Cited Bellosi, Luciano. Giotto: The Complete Works. Firenze: Scala, 1990. Print. Giotto Di Bondone - The Complete Works. 2002-2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. "Giotto Di Bondone ." Salvador Dali: Biography, Painting, Galleries, Posters, and Anaglyph. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. "Giotto - Olga's Gallery." Olga's Gallery - Online Art Museum. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. Stirton, Paul. Renaissance Painting. London: Phaidon, 1979. Print. Tarartes, Maurizia and Isidro Bango Torviso. Giotto. Athens: Kathimerini, 2006. Print. Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web. 22 Mar. 2011.

Produced By: Lydia Spassof


The Traditional Innovator: Simone Martini Sienese School Pre-Renaissance (1284-1344)

Simone Martini was a great Sienese Painter. He was born in Italy in 1284 and died in 1344 while painting frescoes at the Papal Palace in Avignon, France. He was representative of the International Gothic style. This is obvious almost in all of his paintings. He was influenced by the sculpture of Giovanni Pisano and French Gothic art. He was mostly a religious painter. In 1315, he received the commission to paint a Maestá for the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. This fresco shows angels, Saints and Apostles with the Madonna and the child in the center. The outer wall in the Sala del Mappamondo is entirely covered by this fresco.

Maestá, 1317 Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

This fresco is one of Martini’s most representatives. Martini uses techniques to create depth in the painting. These include the techniques of perspective that his master Duccio taught him. In this fresco he painted


many figures in both sides of the painting. This creates perspective with a vanishing point behind the Virgin Mary. By doing this he creates depth in the painting. The use of perspective is something very characteristic of Martini’s work. Martini was mostly a religious painter, so most of his works include religious scenes. One of the few paintings that didn’t include religious content is Guidoriccio da Fogliano. Another religious painting of his is Death of St. Martin. In this fresco Martini shows his influence from International Gothic style. He paid attention to the details in the figures clothing. He modernized the Byzantine Death of St. Martin, 1317-1319, Chapel of style by adding details and St. Martin, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi architecture and shows a dramatic expression on the faces of the people. In this case, he created a dramatic scene. In this painting Martini used architecture as a tool in order to create depth. His technique, that combines traditional religious scenes with the Gothic style, is very impressive. Most of Martini’s work is a combination of the byzantine and Gothic style. Martini was a rebel of art. His ambitions were to modernize Byzantine art and apply his own interpretation to the Byzantine style. This innovative characteristic made Martini popular to the art world. Martini also created paintings that depicted Jesus Christ. Many of the painters of the Pre-Renaissance painted scenes from the life of Christ. The painting to the left is called The Entombment. It represents the scene when Christ is placed in his tomb.


In this painting Martini uses a lot of expression. He paints a very dramatic scene with many figures in order to create movement and show the drama of the scene. He uses the new innovative technique of foreshortening in order to create a realistic environment. Christ’s hand is foreshortened. This shows that Virgin Mary covered him, which creates a realistic effect. This painting is one of few paintings of his that the characters turn their back to us. (By doing this, Martini gives more depth and creates an illusion of real space.) One of Martini’s most famous works is the The Annunciation. It is an altarpiece that is painted in gold leaf. It shows the scene of the Annunciation of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel. It is a tempera painting on a wood panel.

The Entombment, 1315, Berlin

Annunciation, 1333, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy


To the left, there is Ansanus, the patron Saint of Siena and to the right, St. Giulietta. There is a vase on the floor with white lilies which symbolize virginity. The Angel holds an olive branch which is a symbol of peace. The Latin phrase flowing from the Angel’s mouth is: Ave Maria, gratia plena, dominus tecum, which means: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. By writing these words in Latin, Martini is trying to bring the painting to life. Martini uses many different painting techniques in order to create a realistic scene. For example on the book that Virgin Mary is holding there is a shadow where her thumb holds her place that creates a very realistic effect. On the floor, there is also a small shadow from the Angel’s head. This use of light and shadow is creating the illusion of three-dimensional space. He also uses gold which is a Byzantine characteristic. The gold attracts the viewer’s eye and gives a sense of disunity. The vase on the floor is on a different plane from the other figures which also creates a lot of depth. Martini also uses foreshortening in the Virgin Mary’s hand. Her gesture shows that she is surprised by the news. There is a harmony of colors that creates a balanced composition. There are many lines in the painting. Mostly the painting has smooth curves. Smooth curves there are on the clothes of the Virgin Mary and more active lines there are in angel’s drapery .This use of many curves creates movement in the painting and makes it more realistic. Martini was a great Sienese painter and his most important characteristic is that he could mix different styles of art. Martini had many innovative ideas and his ambition to modernize the traditional Byzantine style was achieved. Martini managed to create a new style which was based on the techniques and values of the Byzantine and Gothic style. This made him very influential to the art world and his works are still studied today.


Works Cited Gombrich, Ernst, The Story of Art. London: Phaidon, 1950. Print. Monteverdi, Mario, ed. The Book of Italian Art to 1850. Milan: Grolier, 1967. Print. "Simone Martini Biography." Art and the Bible - Web. 17 May 2011. "Simone Martini - Olga's Gallery." Olga's Gallery - Online Art Museum. Web. 17 May 2011. "Simone Martini: The Annunciation." Art and the Bible - Web. 17 May 2011. "Art of Simone Martini." Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web. 17 May 2011. "SIMONE MARTINI Biography , Italian Paint Art, Gallery Art ,Painters." Paint Art, Gallery Art. Image. Web. 17 May 2011. "Simone Martini." KIWIDEPIA :: Knowledge Power. Web. 17 May 2011.

Produced by: Michael Gerolemou


Renaissance Architect and Engineer: Filippo Brunelleschi Renaissance (1337-1446)

Sculpture of Filippo Brunelleschi

Filippo Brunelleschi was born in 1337 in Florence, Italy and died on the fifteenth of April, 1446. Although his most famous achievement is his engineering of the dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, in Florence, he is also known for many other advancements in the arts and in architecture, one of which being his invention of linear perspective. A few examples of paintings showing Brunelleschi’s linear perspective would be Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, and Raphael’s School of Athens.


Above: School of Athens, Raphael, 1509-10 Left: Holy Trinity, Masaccio, 1425-28

The mathematical concept of objects getting smaller and disappearing into the background, the concept that nearly every artist up to today has used, initially came from Brunelleschi. While the invention of linear perspective was one of Brunelleschi’s most the most influential achievements in his lifetime, his most known achievement was the completion of the dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo and the Cathedral of Florence. Discarding the traditional gothic style of architecture, Brunelleschi decided to adopt the classical Roman style of architecture into his works. To do this, he traveled to Rome and measured the ancient ruins, temples, and palaces and made sketches of them. Although, his goal was not to copy the classical style of Roman architecture, but to create a new way of building all together; a way in which the forms of classical architecture were used to create new works of harmony and beauty.


The Duomo, completed 1436

The Cathedral of Florence, completed 1436

The dome did not begin construction until the early 15th century and was completed in 1436. The challenging part about constructing the dome would be finding a way to keep it from falling in on itself from the massive weight without the use of buttresses. To do this, Brunelleschi chose to make the dome in two separate layers. The inner layer spans the diameter of the area while the outer layer protects from weather and provides a more pleasing external form. Both of these domes are supported by 24 stone ribs, each seven feet thick at the base, and meeting at an open stone compression ring at the top of the dome. The inside of the dome

Picture of the dome showing stone ribs

Blueprint of the Dome


Eight teams of masons, each working on one side of the dome, had to raise their separate walls equally and evenly so that they all converged at the top. Precise calculations and measurements of each horizontal layer of brick or stone as it was added had to be made to be able to do this. Horizontal arches were also built to ensure completion of the dome with greater safety. These arches came together at the horizontal rings placed within the dome. There were a total of nine horizontal rings which, as Brunelleschi was a scholar of Dante Alighieri, and having made an extensive study of his Divine Comedy, were most likely a reference to it. Ironically, the The nine circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno domes of churches and cathedrals were seen as conventional symbols of heaven, and the nine rings in Dante’s Divine Comedy are the nine circles of hell.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Del Fiore completed in 1436


One of Brunelleschi’s last works was the Pazzi Chapel in Florence, Italy. The construction of the chapel began around 1441 and was completed in the 1460’s. While this building does not resemble any of the classical temples that Brunelleschi studied, it shows even less in common with the traditional Gothic-style buildings of that time. He based the chapel on the simple geometric forms of the square and the circle, and combined columns, pilasters, and arches in his own way to achieve a certain balance and grace Exterior of the Pazzi Chapel, c.1460 unlike most Renaissance buildings. The classical gable or pediment of the door shows Brunelleschi’s intricate study of the ancient ruins in Rome. This, along with his disregard of Gothic architecture, is present even more upon entering the chapel. There are no high windows or slim pillars that are common in Gothic architecture. Rather, there are grey pilasters that convey the idea of a classical “order” subdividing the blank white wall. Brunelleschi was one of the greatest architects and engineers of the Renaissance and as such drastically changed the future of art with his invention of linear perspective and the future of architecture with his readoption of classical styled architecture.

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel, c.1460


Works Cited Gombrich, Ernst. The Story of Art. New York, New York: Phaidon Press Inc, 2008. Print. King, Ross. Brunelleschi’s Dome. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2001. Print. “Filippo Brunelleschi.” Wikipedia. 10 May 2011. Web. 11 May 2011. “Florence Cathedral.” Wikipedia. 9 May 2011. Web. 11 May 2011. “Duomo, Florence.” Web Gallery of Art. Web. 11 May 2011. “Pazzi Chapel.” Wikipedia. 14 Mar. 2011. Web. 11 May 2011.

Produced by: Alex Andronikos


Master of the Doors: Lorenzo Ghiberti Renaissance (1378-1455)

Lorenzo Ghiberti was a Florentine Renaissance sculptor. He was born in Florence around 1378. As a child, he apprenticed to the goldsmith Bartolo di Michele, who is debated to be either his father or his stepfather. His mother had married Cione Ghiberti in 1370 in order to benefit from his title, but then left him for di Michele. Who Ghiberti’s actual father was remains in dispute; however, he was raised as a goldsmith’s son and showed a possessed a gifted talent the craft.

The Baptistery of Florence, 1059-1128

In 1401, after a short trip to Rimini in order to escape the plague that had struck Florence, di Michele called Ghiberti back in order to inform him that there was a commission to create a second set of bronze doors for the Baptistery of Florence (the first was made by Andrea Pisano and was considered an achievement in bronze casting). This commission would be considered the most important since that of Pisano. After working for approximately one year, Ghiberti, along with seven other finalists, submitted a bronze panel, the Sacrifice of Isaac, which depicted a scene from the Old Testament. After much deliberation, the judges narrowed the competition down to two panels by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi’s interpretation of the scene highlighted its violence, whereas Ghiberti’s was soother, with a more romantically expressive composition. Sacrifice of Isaac, 1402

Brunelleschi’s panel had a much more modern and powerful appeal to it, since it


included many strong, prominent aspects. However, it was Ghiberti who won the competition unanimously. His work, cast in two pieces of bronze, demonstrated outstanding skill and was extremely pleasant, even soothing to the eye, despite the horrendous nature of the subject matter. Having won the competition, Ghiberti started the daunting task that would occupy him for the upcoming 20 years. During those years, he married Marsilia, the 16-year-old daughter of a wool carder, and soon after, she gave birth to two sons, Vittorio and Tommaso, in 1417 and 1418 respectively. The North Doors he created depicted scenes from the Old Testament. He used twenty eight panels with gothic quatrefoils, and added human heads, which are derived from Roman antiquity and his own likeness, to enrich the door frames. In addition, having been devoted to treating naturalistic forms in a naturalistic way, he used trees, flowers, plants, and animals abundantly in his reliefs.

The Crucifixion, North Doors, 1404-1424

The North Doors, 1404-1424

The first panels that Ghiberti made reveal his efforts to fit his work within the Gothic quatrefoil. The slender, lyrical figures approximate those of International Gothic painters, such as Lorenzo Monaco and Gentile da Fabriano. His drapery of the figures is extremely elegant and contributes a rhythmic harmony to the design. As his work progressed, his compositions became more complex and his forms began to slowly abandon the quatrefoil shape. It is also noticeable that he included an increasing amount of elaborate architectural and geometrical elements, and that his compositions begin to evolve towards the new rectilinear Renaissance format.

As a result of the great acclaim his first set of doors received upon their completion, Ghiberti was commissioned to create yet another set of doors for the Baptistery. These doors, which he worked on from 1424 to 1452, having been so remarkable, were named the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo. They are the most outstanding example


of Ghiberti’s work, technique and skill. Granted the freedom to create the most ornate, rich and ‘perfect’ design for the doors, Ghiberti divided the doors into 10 square panels, surrounding them with 24 figures and 24 heads. It took him 12 years to model and cast the main reliefs and another 15 years to complete them. In the panel depicting the story of Adam and Eve, Ghiberti started his narration of the story at the left of the panel with the Garden of Eden, in which he uses high relief to highlight God bringing Adam to life.

Adam and Eve, The Gates of Paradise (1424-1452)

He then moved on to the center of the panel to show God creating Eve, and the story ends on the right with Adam and Eve’s expulsion. In the background towards the left, we see the temptation of Adam and Eve by the serpent in low relief. Ghiberti chose to break away from the conventional depiction of one scene per bronze panel, opting instead to show multiple scenes from a particular narrative in the panel so as to enliven his work. This technique has never been used on bronze before and was revolutionary to art. In this scene, we can also see the evolution of Ghiberti’s style since the creation of the North Doors. “[His] convincing spatial recession in an


expansive landscape is achieved by three devices: (1) the gradual loss of sharp detail with increased distance” (Beck 42). The evolution of Ghiberti’s interpretation of the human body is also evident in this panel. The need for nude figures prompted him to alter his style. When looking at Adam, who is being brought to life by God, we see his realistic, proportional hand resting on the rocky ground. Further down the panel, we see Adam again, who is asleep while God is pulling Eve out of his side assister by the angels in a circular position above. Eve is depicted here with conventional classical features, except more elegant and reminiscent of Masolino’s figures. Looking towards the far right, we see Adam and Eve yet again, except this time they are being expelled from Paradise by God, who is in a vast curve of delicate and detailed drapery Details from Adam and Eve, the folds and is surrounded by angels. He is Gates of Paradise (1424-1452) seen ordering the archangel to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. This technique of portraying more than one scene in a panel is called “affeti”, and in this case, is done with a consistent, decipherable, clear, uninterrupted landscape. In the Adam and Eve panel, Ghiberti chose to include Minerva’s owl, which was a symbol of wisdom from Roman mythology. In his panel of Jacob and Esau, which told the story of a fair-skinned Joshua who pretended to be his hairy brother Jacob, Ghiberti integrated a pair of dogs in the background, of which one is smooth and one is depicted with wavy lined to represent Jacob’s hair. Finally, and most remarkably, in The Fall of Jericho panel, Ghiberti chiseled deep cracks into the The Fall of Jericho, (1424-1452)


fortifications to portray the crumbling of Jericho’s walls in front of Joshua’s army. The people of Florence adored the completed doors so much that Ghiberti’s earlier doors were moved to allow the new ones to go in the most famous and important position, on the east, facing the Duomo. There they would be one of the major artistic attractions of the city for more than five centuries.

Works Cited Beck, James H, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Andrea Pisano. The Baptistery Doors, Florence. Firenze: Scala, 1985. Print. “GHIBERTI, LORENZO.” Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web Gallery of Art. Web. 04 May 2011. “Lorenzo Ghiberti – Biography and Gallery of Art.” Life of an Artist – Biographies and Galleries. Life of an Artist: Biographies and Galleries. Web. 04 May 2011. "Lorenzo Ghiberti." NNDB: T racking the Entire World. Soylent Communications 2011. Web. 04 May 2011. From The Bulfinch Guide to Art History. "Lorenzo Ghiberti." Mark Harden's Art Achive. Web. 04 May 2011. Gombrich, E. H. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon, 1995. Print.

Produced by: Sara Samad


Sculpting Human Expression: Donatello Renaissance (1386-1466)

Throughout Donatello’s career, controversy was never a concern. Regardless of the medium, the unifying theme in all of his artwork involved conveying human expression for realistic effect. Born in 1386 to a wool carder, Donato di Bardi (Donatello) was raised in Florence. It is believed that at thirteen years old, Donatello began stone carving. Upon reaching adulthood, Donatello became a member of the famous Florentine sculptor’s workshop, Lorenzo Ghiberti. Although not much of Donatello’s personal life is known, his art was always his focus, having had no wife or known children. Donatello managed to break social barriers with his sculptures and provoke an emotional reaction in his viewers. In 1416, Donatello sculpted one his greatest works, a marble statue of St. George that is now at the Bargello Museum. Originally intended to embellish the exterior of the San Michele Church, St. George was commissioned by the Armorers’ Guild. The determined character of St. George is evident in his stance. St. George’s face is serious with a strong, concentrated energy as his lips are pursed and his eyes look ahead expectantly. His arms are ready for battle with muscles tensed, and his feet are firmly set on the ground. Donatello’s depiction of St. George exhibits humanistic features because he worked from live models. Donatello’s St. George has been analyzed and idolized as a moralistic example for the Florentine statuary St. George, 1416 National Museum of Bargello, Florence

scene. Many view the heroic and virtuous St. George as taking the step from the old to new – ancient to


modern. For Donatello, this could be translated as his own adaptation from Classical to Renaissance style. Unlike earlier works, St. George was a drastic change in Donatello’s style. It was the mark of a developed artist who could convey a character and evoke a reaction.

The earliest commission Donatello accepted was a bronze relief panel for the Baptismal font of San Giovanni in Siena, Herod’s Banquet in 1426. It was one of a series of relief panels concerning the life of John the Baptist. To provide some context for the subject matter, it was King Herod’s birthday. The King held a supper with his lords and invited Herodias, his wife, and her daughter, Salomé. After sitting with him, King Herod had Salomé dance for him. Gratefully, Herod said to Salomé, “Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it to thee”. Salomé consulted her mother who immediately responded, “The head of John the Baptist.” Although King Herod didn’t want to, a deal was a deal. King Herod sent an executioner and when the head was brought, he gave it to Salomé who passed it to her mother, Herodias. Donatello wants to bring the viewer’s eye to the lower half with high relief and an impressive attention to detail from the facial expressions, gestures, and wardrobe. It appears that nearly every figure within the bronze is reacting in a different way. The individualized expression of reaction from each individual could potentially separate the composition, but Donatello ensures unity. Donatello does this by creating a background of the Roman arches which alludes to the depth of the panel, despite the low relief. In doing so, he created a multitude of planes. The flurry of feelings shown in the bronze relief is truly remarkable, ranging from confusion and anxiety to utter horror. Herod’s Banquet, 1426 San Giovanni Baptistery, Siena

As Donatello received acclaim for his work and rose in the Florentine art scene, the influential and wealthy Medici family took notice. In 1430, the


Medicis commissioned Donatello to create a statue for their family palace. The outcome was scandalous and beautiful. For the first time since antiquity, Donatello pioneered a nude statue. Made from bronze, David is a young man full of pride with his foot stepping on the head of a defeated opponent, Goliath. David’s realistic proportions, attitude, and nudity, continue to garner attention. For David’s face, Donatello used “the Emperor Hadrian’s beloved Antinous, although with a sharper Florentine accent that makes it far more attractive.” (Clark103) Donatello gave a real likeness to life with David because of the ease in which David assumes the character within this statue, from his sword in his right hand which he used to sever Goliath’s head to the motion created by the lines and lighting. With a flamboyant helmet and strong pose atop an enemy, David stood for more than just a courageous boy, but served as a nationalistic metaphor. He might not have been large, but like the Florentine Republic, he was mighty. With this message in mind, David is arguably Donatello’s magnum opus. The story behind the David, 1430 National Museum of Bargello, sculpture begins with David Florence offering to fight the Philistines who defied the armies of the living God. King Saul retorts that David is too young, while the Philistines are experienced with war. However, David is not deterred. David uses his


wits to defeat the giant Goliath with his shepherd’s slingshot. Proud of his victory, David stood upon Goliath’s head and sent a clear message of confidence to the army of Philistines which Donatello reiterates. At this time in Florence, an idea that man was the measure of all things was prevalent in many forms from architecture to sculpture. Breaking away from the tradition of depicting only religious scenes in the Byzantine style, Donatello portrays David in a humanistic light, rendering him life-size. Using bronze to cast light on the contours of David’s body and muscles, Donatello celebrates man in all his natural glory.

Mary Magdalene, late 1430 Museum Opera del Duomo

In the 1430’s, Donatello created statue depicting Mary Magdalene, an often ambiguous figure of religious scenes. Unlike the majority of his art, Donatello veered from his comfortable media of bronze and marble and ventured into wood. Despite the change, Mary Magdalene is an important and distinctive part of Donatello’s vast repertoire. Unlike most depictions of the beautiful Mary Magdalene, the seductress is shown aged by her own internal conflicts, such as having witnessed Christ’s crucifixion. In a very symbolic gesture, her hands are clasped towards each other in prayer, as though repenting for her sins. The tone of the sculpture is regretful with her mud-like hair withering away into her decrepit skin from her fasting and abstinence. Donatello had a deep understanding of human physiology and this is shown in his accurate portrayal of the physical and emotional weight on her body. The message being conveyed by Mary Magdalene stands in stark contrast to what David, Donatello’s earlier sculpture, represented. Instead of commemorating man’s invincibility and pride with an idealized body and face, Mary Magdalene symbolizes the complete opposite. Mary Magdalene expresses torment in ragged clothes with an aged, gaunt face. Distancing himself from only aesthetics, Donatello’s style was maturing as he strived to communicate the pain that Mary Magdalene feels. His artistic intentions shifted from being visually pleasing to expressing emotion.


Donatello created his Annunciation with gray stone from Tuscany in 1435 for the Church of Santa Croce with a heavy classical influence evident in his use of lines. Knowing his Annunciation would be placed near the altar of the Cavalcanti Chapel, Donatello created an intricate pattern that incorporated various shapes from circles to ovals and rectangles. Donatello successfully conveys a true sense of Mary’s fright with her hand on her heart, a relatable human response. Donatello also affords much detail to the pleats and surface of the robes both the angel and the Virgin Mary are wearing. Within the Virgin Mary’s gown, she modestly moves her right leg and points her toe in response. There is also an element of Athenian influences at work in Donatello’s The Annunciation, 1435 Annunciation. The form of the Church of Santa Croce, Florence Virgin’s chair is characteristically Greek and her “head reminds us of an Athenian grave relief of the fifth century BC.”(Clark 103) Donatello’s masterful knowledge of texture, anatomy and human emotion, the sculpture is both esthetically and historically meaningful. Donatello’s frequent incorporation of Greek and Roman motifs into his sculptures, created depth and accentuated the foreground. This allowed him to create his signature harmonious sense of balance within each composition. He lived a remarkably long eighty years, especially for fifteenth century Florence. Donatello continues to live on through his many beautiful contributions to the art world.


Works Cited "Donatello Biography." Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web. 06 Apr. 2011. Draper, James David. "Donatello (ca. 1386 - 1466) Thematic Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Oct. 2002. Web. 06 Apr. 2011. Gaeta, and BertelĂ Giovanna. Donatello. Florence: Scala, 1991. Print. Harrison, G.B. The Bible for Students of Literature and Art. Anchor, 1994. Print. Clark, Kenneth. Civilization. London: Butler & Tanner Ltd., 1994. Print.

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The Angelic Painter: Fra Angelico Renaissance (1387-1455)

Fra Angelico Giovanni Fra Angelico was Dominican friar. After his death in 1455, he was praised as “the Angelic Painter”. Many of the stylistic trends that distinguish the early Renaissance are the rational treatment of pictorial space and the volumetric modeling of forms with light and shadow. The Italian painter combined the religious styles of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Fra Angelico’s early works were created at the monastery of San Domenico in Fiesole. One of Fra Angelico’s early paintings is the monastery’s altarpiece, Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven.

Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven, 1428-30 National Gallery, London

This is one of Fra Angelico’s early paintings and shows the use of gold. The saints are all wearing halos and have very detailed drapery. All saints have there hands in symbolic gestures and they are holding a feather. The feather represents those who have left this earth and are still watching us.


He also shows depth in this scene by having three rows of people placed one behind the other. From 1438 to 1445, Fra Angelico worked on frescoes and altar-pieces for the Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence. According to Vasari, Fra Angelico had to decorate the walls of the commons rooms and of the individual monk’s cells in the monastery. These include the magnificent fresco of the Crucifixion in the Chapter House, the Annunciation at the top of the stairs to the cells, and many smaller frescoes depicting aspects of the Life of Christ in a pure, simple and beautiful style. This fresco is found on the wall of an individual monk’s cell. Fra Angelico uses perspective, as seen here in the rendition of the tomb door. Mary Magdalene has found the tomb empty and approaches a man she believes to be a gardener to inquire. Christ responds by saying, “Nolo me Tangere (Don’t touch me).”

Nolo me Tangere (Scene of christ and Mary Magdalene), 1425-1430 San Marco

We can see elements of Gothic style in the delicacy of the figures and beautiful lines. The drapery is very detailed with many curves. There is light on Mary Magdalene’s face and drapery and on Jesus’ halo. Mary Magdalene’s dress is of low color saturation. We also notice that Fra Angelico really liked depicting nature in his paintings. For example, the trees and natural world are depicted in the background, which reminds us of Gothic tapestries.


Crucifixion, 1441-1442 San Marco

This large fresco occupies the entire wall in the chapter house, of San Marco in Florence. Under the three crosses are the saints. Around the fresco are the busts of the Prophets and Sybils in ten hexagons; in the centre, above the Crucifixion, we can see the pelican, a symbol of redemption. Below, in the lower frieze there are 17 medallions with portraits of the most well known members of the Dominican Order.

Fra Angelico’s main aim was to depict biblical stories in a pure, beautiful and simple style. He shows perspective by placing the two thieves behind Christ. The image is well balanced, because of the colors, and the placement of the saints and the two crosses. The Annunciation is a painting that depicts the moment when Gabriel told Mary that she is carrying the son of God in a miraculous way. It is a very common scene in Medieval and Renaissance art. This Annunciation that Fra Angelico has painted is on the wall of the San Marco monastery in Italy, at the top of the stairs.

Annunciation, 1438-45 San Marco

The painting is simple, and altogether more austere and more intimate in mood. The two figures, Mary and Gabriel, appear otherworldly. We see an open doorway beside Mary, with a small window exactly the same with the actual monk cells, which we could still see. This shows Fra Angelico’s use of perspective to create the sense of depth in the painting. They both seem


confident towards each other. In the painting we see that Archangel Gabriel has very colorful wings, which is of Gothic style. The graceful line and delicate figures are also Gothic features. The painting lacks the range of symbolic objects, usually associated with this scene, such as: lilies, the carafe, the book. Instead of these objects, we have a plain wooden fence. Behind that fence Tuscan cypresses are flourishing. Mary sits on a wooden stool. Both figures look into each other's eyes. The color of their clothing is an extremely delicate pale pink on the angel’s robe. The hues are of high and low saturation. The drapery is not very detailed. The figures aren’t humanistic, but the architecture of the painting is very realistic. The shadow used on the arches and the open doorway give the painting depth. Fra Angelico was a very talented painter who spent most of his life in San Marco Monastery - one of his most famous frescoes was the Annunciation. He used some of Masaccio’s new methods, such as mathematical perspective, to present traditional Bible stories. His simple compositions, use of colour and frequent representations of the natural world are integral to his style and the figures, not humanistic, seem to come from another world.

Works Cited “Fra Angelico” Art Unframed. Web. 4 May 2011. Hodge, Nicola and Libby Anson. “Fra Angelico” from "The A-Z of Art: The World's Greatest and Most Popular Artists and Their Works". Artchive store. Web. 4 May 2011. Gombrich, E. H." The Story of Art. 16th ed. London: Phaidon, 1995. Print.

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Sculptor and Artist: Luca Della Robbia Renaissance (1399 – 1482)

Luca Della Robbia, a sculptor from Florence, was born in 1399 and died in 1482. Under the guidance of Leonardo de Ser Giovanni, a wax expert of the time, he learned the fundamentals of goldsmith art. He initially learned to design in wax, and eventually started bronze sculptures when he gained more confidence. He was the founder of a family studio related with the production of works in enameled terra-cotta. Before developing the process with which his family name came to be associated, Luca completed his sculptures only in marble. In 1431 he began what is considered to be one of his most important works, the Cantoria, or “singing gallery,” that was originally placed over the door of the northern sacristy of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. It is now situated in the Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence. La Cantoria is the marble balustrade that used to be in the Sacristy and it dates back to 1431. It is divided into two levels: upper and lower. This particular scene, entitled Singers with Scroll, is the sixth of 10 scenes. In this work, Della Robbia unites Ghiberti’s naturalism with the classicism of Michelozzo. The verses of Psalm 150 are inscribed in the marble, “Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius…” The harmonious composition represents serene figures which were inspired by classic art. This can be seen in the hair of the figures and their facial expression. The composition is distributed in space in a harmonious and fluid manner. The puffy cheeks of the singers reveal a naturalistic and humanistic style. Finally, the low relief background accentuates La Cantoria (detail), 1431 Opera del Duomo Museum


the figures in the foreground achieving a sense of depth and perspective. Della Robbia’s earliest work in polychrome enameled terra-cotta, the lunette of the Resurrection (1442–45), is found in the Northern Sacristy of the Cathedral of Florence. The art critic and contemporary of Della Robbia, Giorgio Vasari, wrote that the glaze with which Luca covered his terra-cotta sculptures were composed of a mixture of tin, litharge antimony, and other minerals. The Resurrection lunette with the typical colors of Della Robbia (high saturated blue and glazed white) was followed by a corresponding relief of the Ascension, found above the Southern Sacristy door, where in addition to the white and blue, there are also green and earthly colors.

The Resurrection, 1442-45 Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

The use of the elastic baked clay covered with a "slip" of vitrified lead permitted a lustrous and polished surface that reflected light. The glaze of this material gives The Resurrection luminosity and intense color. Its advantage made it well suited for church interiors, while its durability made it ideal for external decoration as well. The main characteristic of Della Robbia lies in the charm of the figures. They are very gentle with natural curvatures that reflect a very humanistic attitude. Christ, in the center, appears austere with a sense of “gravitas” or dignity. In contrast, the


soldiers lying in the foreground are portrayed in a very naturalistic and realistic way.

The Ascension, 1442-45 Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

The Ascension is another sculpture found in the Sacristy of the Cathedral in Florence. It resembles the previous bas-relief, The Resurrection, in colors because it remains faithful to the high value white and high saturation blue. However, there are some additional earthly colors, such as green and brown, which contribute to the naturalistic background. The composition is quite harmonious in structure, as Christ is depicted in the center with gestures of divinity. The kneeling figures contribute to depth and perspective as they are one behind the other, creating a series of different planes. The light and shadows are very bold, a typical effect of the terra cotta technique.


Portrait of a Young Woman, 1465-70 Bargello Museum, Florence

This is a portrait of a young and aristocratic young woman probably from the Medici family (as suggested by the exquisite refinement of her features). Della Robbia’s grandeur is shown in the precision of the details mixed with the sense of intimacy full of humanity and femininity. Her hairstyle is typical of the Renaissance period. The hair near the forehead is plucked so that the forehead appears bigger (a symbol of beauty). Both her


neck and forehead are decorated with beautiful sets of pearls. Her eyes are semi-closed giving her face an appearance of both purity and sensuality. This sculpture depicts Mary enthroned with baby Christ on her lap in a garden of flowers. The white figures contrast with the high saturated blue of the sky and with the yellow centers of the flowers. The poses of the two figures are very naturalistic. Baby Jesus plays with the flowers with one hand and with the other holds an apple that he presses against his mother’s chest. The Virgin’s drapery reveals some body underneath, giving a realistic effect. The Virgin has a very serene and motherly expression while tenderly holding the baby. The scene gives an impression of realism, serenity, and naturalism. Luca Della Robbia was not the only member of his family to be well known for his art. The Della Robbia workshop gained so much fame that its commissions came from all over Florence. One of Della Robbia’s contemporaries, Filippo Brunelleschi, constructed the renowned Pazzi Chapel, where Luca Della Robbia did the coffered dome in the ceiling of the exonarthex. Similarly, in the Hospital of the Innocents, also built by Brunelleschi, one can admire Della Robbia’s circular plaques. His art, which Madonna and Child, 1465-70 Bargello Museum in Florence


is seen in many of the structures in Florence, is permeated both by a humanistic and a Christian spirit.

Works Cited “Luca della Robbia”. Art Cyclopedia. Web. 3 Jun. 2011. Fiamma, Domestici. Della Robbia: Une Famille d’Artistes. Florence: SCALA, 1992. Print. “Luca della Robbia” Web Gallery of Art. Web. 3 Jun. 2011. “Biography of Luca della Robbia”. Italica. Rai Internazionale, 1996. Web. 3 Jun. 2011.

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Shaping Renaissance Art with Drama Simplicty and New Techniques: Masaccio Quattrocentro period of Italian Reinassance (1401- 1428)

The revolutionary Masaccio died at the young age of 26, but left an imprint on Renaissance culture that would later bloom to extraordinary proportions throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. A painter of the Quattrocentro period of the Italian Renaissance, Masaccio created paintings that featured simplicity and unity. He concerned himself with creating realistic settings and figures; he did so by adding a great deal of depth, light and shadow. It seems as if he were trying to prove to the world that an artist could recreate the real world on canvas. He put great effort in creating details for things such as transparent veils, or water pouring from a vase. These small details made the settings of his paintings look much more real and tangible. Masaccio was born Tomasso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai in 1401. Masaccio’s name comes from Maso (short for Tomasso) which means “fat” “clumsy” and “messy”, it was thought to be a way of distinguishing him from fellow artist Masolino, whose name means “little” “delicate”. He was admitted to the painter’s guild of Florence in 1422. It was in Florence between the years of 1422 and 1428 that he completed some of his most well known works. Most of these are found in the Brancacci Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine and in Santa Maria Novella. It was in Florence that Masaccio would meet Brunelleschi and Donatello, two artists that become dear friends to him and would influence his work. He was also influenced by the artist Giotto, who was not alive during Masaccio’s lifetime but still impacted the young artist. Massacio studied Giotto’s style and noted Giotto’s unique perspective which helped develop his use of perspective.


The Expulsion of Paradise, 1424 Brancacci Chapel Santa Maria Novella

Masaccio, along with fellow artist Masolino, was commissioned to paint frescoes for the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. The Expulsion of Paradise (14241425) borders a cycle of frescoes depicting the life of St. Peter. The Expulsion shows Masaccio’s interest in creating dramatic expressions, he painted body language to accompany these expressions and make them all the more vivid. Adam rounds his shoulders inward, covers his face and bows his head down in humiliation and embarrassment. Eve throws her head up towards the sky in a lamenting fashion. It’s obvious to the viewer that both are no longer in Paradise. Their anguished and their pained faces make that clear. Both figures show his interest for volume and his admiration for the sculptures of figures from antiquity. They also show his use of the foreshortening technique which can be seen by the way the angel is hovering over Adam and Eve. In Baptism of the Converts, Masaccio, creates the feeling of real space. The scene depicts St. Peter baptizing a group of men. He has created this very realistic depiction of water, one can actually see how the form of water pouring over a converts head. The positioning of one man’s body makes it look like his shivering from the cold. The naturalism of this figure’s pose has often been praised by artists and art historians over the years. Most of the bodies have been accented by light and shadow which defines their muscles. The figures have a sense of “gravitas” a sense of dignity, weight and seriousness, which can also be found in other works of Masaccio’s. Baptism of the Converts, 1424-25 Brancacci Chapel


Another fresco from the cycle of frescoes depicting the life of St. Peter, is The Tribute Money. Thought to be one of his best works, The Tribute Money shows a tax collector coming to collect taxes from the people. There is speculation about who painted Christ’s face, which looks more Gothic than the rest of the faces; it is considered to be painted by Fillipino Lippi. In the far left St. Peter can be seen sitting by the river extracting a piece of gold (or money) from a fish’s mouth to give to the tax collector. This painting represents the daily life of the people of Florence. It was something that people could easily relate to. Religion and tax-collecting were things that were applicable to the lives of ordinary men and women.

The Tribute Money, 1420’s Brancacci Chapel, Florence

The Trinity with the Virgin Mary, St. John and the Donors (1427-1428) can be found in the Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The Trinity portrays the crucified Christ, with God and the Holy Spirit above him. Those three make up what is called the Trinity. To Christ’s left stands the Virgin Mary and to his right, St. John the Baptist. In the two bottom corners of the painting are the donors (the people who donated this work of art to Santa Maria Novella). Under the donors is an image of a skeleton lying in sarcophagus accompanied by a Latin inscription. The skeleton is supposed to refer to Adam; the image as a whole is a reminder to viewers that their life on earth is temporary.


When the painting was finished and presented to the public, it created much curiosity and confusion amongst the people, for when they saw it they had the sense that they could walk right into the painting.

The Trinity with the Virgin Mary, St. John and the Donors, 1427-28 Santa Maria Novella

Masaccio had perfected an extremely equal and balanced composition. It has a certain mathematical precision and organization to it. If the painting were to be cut in a half (horizontally), both sides would be mirror images of each other. Using geometry and other mathematical means including the foreshortening technique and Brunlleschi’s famous mathematical perspective (which at the time was a new invention in art), Masaccio was able to create the illusion of a real space put on a flat surface. In fact, this painting is an excellent example of foreshortening in the history of Western painting since the classic era. He also used linear perspective, mathematical perspective and vanishing points. In The Trinity, the vanishing point is somewhere behind God’s head.

Classical Renaissance architectural features including pilasters, ionic capitols, rounded arches and Roman columns are seen on the edges of the painting and in the background. The coffered ceiling (square pieces of molding) is another Renaissance feature. These are some of the elements that make the painting distinguishable as Renaissance. Other aspects include techniques such as the foreshortening technique and the use of systematic linear perspective. All of these show Masaccio’s talent for creating realistic space and settings.


Masaccio’s humanistic depiction of the body of Christ is most likely influenced by Donatello’s sculptures. They resemble Donatello’s sculptures, because of their refined sculpture-like look. Donatello was known for making sculptures that look dignified, a trait that Masaccio often used in his paintings as well. Christ’s body has a certain sense of weight to it that is accentuated by the expert use of light and shadow. Masaccio died shortly after going to Rome in 1428. However his short career as an artist was not in vain. He was praised for imitating nature in his paintings by studying the appearance of actual objects instead of just studying other artists. He helped change the course of Italian art. He helped clear the path for future artists of the Renaissance, thus shaping Renaissance art and its history.

Works Cited Borsi, Stefano. Masaccio. Firenze: Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, 1998. Print. Baxandall, Michael. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972. Print. “Tribute Money”. Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 25 May 2011. “Masaccio”. Web Gallery of Art, image collection, virtual museum, searchable database of European fine arts (1000-1850). Web. 25 May 2011. Sortais, Gaston. "Masaccio." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Web. 25 May 2011

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Master of the Early Renaissance: Piero della Francesca Early Renaissance (1416 -1492)

Piero della Francesca was one of the most important painters of the Early Renaissance. He was often distinguished from other Renaissance artists through his incredible use of realistic proportions and symmetry. Due to the incredible artwork he created, using mathematical proportions, many later Renaissance artists borrowed his techniques in order to make their paintings more realistic. It is not known to whom Piero de la Francesca was apprenticed, but it is clear that he borrowed ideas that appeared in Sienese artworks. Piero della Francesca had a great knowledge of mathematics and geometry in particular, which allowed him to give his paintings a powerful religious feel, while at the same time appearing organized. Due to Piero della Francesca’s command of geometry, he fathered the techniques that were to appear later in almost all Renaissance works. Polyptych of the Misericordia (14451462), is one of Piero della Francesca’s mature works of art, as time has deprived us of many of his earlier works which were frescoes. However, this painting completed in oil on a panel has stood the test of time. We can see Piero’s use of symmetry immediately in the painting. The Madonna’s head forms a triangle with the heads of her followers beneath her, as well as her hands dividing the painting in half. In this image the Madonna is large, while her followers are small, helping to glorify her in this image as their protector. He also presents the Madonna in her traditional clothing, with the blue gown and red robe. The figures also all have different expressions, which gives the painting a feeling of realism, allowing the viewer to connect to the painting. This image is located in Pinacoteca Comunale of Sansepolcro (Tuscany, Italy).

Polyptych of the Misericordia 1445-1462


Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the Prince of Rimini, (1451 – 1460)

This is a portrait of the Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the prince of Rimini (1451 – 1460). This painting was done before Piero’s Duke and Duchess of Urbino, a more famous profile image. Here we see Piero capturing the serious expression and somewhat downward facing nose of the prince, showing how he attempted to create realistic images. The image is also placed on a dark background, unlike the Duke of Urbino’s portrait, which appears on a pleasant, relaxing background. The background makes the image more dramatic, yet helps the painting to retain its humanistic elements. This image is located in the Louvre, in Paris.

The Duke and Duchess Urbino and Dutchess of Urbino (1465 – 1470) are two of Piero’s most famous works. Piero della Francesca painted many portraits in his lifetime; however this is the most famous. Here we once again see the realism of his artwork. The duke has a unique nose and warts on his face, showing that Piero della Francesca was not simply attempting to beautify the duke, but make the image realistic. The Duchess’s image was added later after her death, which explains the pale colors and lifeless expression she bears in the image as she is staring at him from the afterlife. Both figures bear a serious expression, which is emphasized through them both being in profile. Unlike previous portraits painted by Piero della Francesca, there is a pleasant The Duke and Duchess Urbino and Dutchess of Urbino, 1465 – 1470 Uffizi, Florence background helping the image to appear


The Legend of the True Cross: Battle between Heraclius and Chosroes, 1459

more pleasant to the viewer. This painting is located in Florence, Italy. This is a fresco taken from Piero della Francesca’s most famous cycle of frescoes The Legend of the True Cross: Battle between Heraclius and Chosroes (1459) in the Bacci Chapel of the Church of St. Francesco in Arezzo. Here we see the chaos of battle, yet through Piero’s geometric skills, it still seems organized. Every figure is uniquely placed to add to the effect of battle. The figures are placed close together to add to the violent and dramatic movement of the battle that the image attempts to capture. However, one figure stands out the most; a trumpeter can be seen on the left playing his instrument despite the chaos around him. This helps to emphasize and help one to envision the noise of the scene. A spear and horses rearing can also be seen in the image creating a very realistic interpretation of the battle that took place. This painting is located in the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo.

The Legend of the True Cross: Constatine’s Dream 1466

This is another famous image from Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross. Constantine’s dream (1466) is the first night scene painted by a Renaissance artist. This is the scene in which Constantine received a dream from an angel to paint crosses on his shield in order to win a battle that will take place the following morning. In the image we can see the use of foreshortening on the angel located in the top left corner of the image, as he descends towards Constantine. The sentries also have their backs to the audience, creating a sense of realism.


The lighting in the painting is most likely emanating from a campfire or the moon. The use of pale colors, such as the yellow in the image helps to emphasize nightfall in the image. This painting is located in the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo. Resurrection (1463) is one of Piero della Francesca’s most powerful images. Piero’s scene is constructed from the center of the image, within a framework that is enclosed by two marble columns. The composition is divided into two perspective zones: the lower area in which Christ has placed the sleeping figures and the upper area in which the triumphant Christ appears. Christ is portrayed in this image not from above, but from the front which differs from how he should be seen if we were to see from the perspective of the sentries. Christ is portrayed with solid peasant features and Resurrection, 1463 represents Piero’s human ideals: concrete, restrained and hieratic. Piero also uses the background to match the image by placing dead trees on the left side of the image, and living ones on the right, helping to emphasize the second coming of Christ. This painting is located in Palazzo Communale of Borgo, Sansepolcro in Tuscany. Piero de La Francesca was one of the fathers of Renaissance painting due to his incredible use of mathematical geometry to make images appear organized and pleasing to the eye. Due to his mathematical skills, he mastered the art of depth and foreshortening adding even more realism to his paintings. Piero della Francesca’s use of color and choice of backgrounds also always matched the image’s subject matter, creating a unique and powerful final result. His ideas were later employed in many future Renaissance works helping them to achieve the same effects Piero de la Francesca’s pieces had on their viewers.


Works Cited "Cultural Tours - Piero Della Francesca." Agriturismi in Toscana, Agriturismo Il Pozzeto. Web. 22 May 2011. "Piero Della Francesca | The Legend of the True Cross | The Frescoes of San Francesco in Arrezzo | Podere Santa Pia, Holiday House in the South of Tuscany." Casa Santa Pia. Web. 22 May 2011. Casalino, Daniele, and Karin Stephan, eds. Piero della Francesca. Florence: Scala, 1989. Print.

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A Man of Beauty: Sandro Botticelli Renaissance Artist (1445 – 1510)

Sandro Botticelli, also known as Alessandro Filipepi was one of the most important artists of the Renaissance. He initially started his artistic career by training as a goldsmith in his brother’s workshop, Antonio Filipepi. At the age of fourteen, Vasari, a historian of the time reports him working in the workshop of Fra Filippo Lippi. Lippi was Botticelli’s first and most important influence in his artistic career. Many of his works have clear evidence of influence by him and also are attributed to the older master. Throughout his life Botticelli made many works however his master pieces are Spring, The Birth of Venus, and The Adoration of the Magi. In all his works but specifically in these his unique touch and talent to represent beauty is mostly evident. Botticelli’s idea of beauty and the way he portrays it is what made him stand out from all the other artists of his time.

Madonna with Child, 1467

Botticelli’s style deals with the great sense of line and movement of all the figures. He focuses on portraying the beauty of each figure through line but also by creating unrealistic proportions that add to the beauty of each of his compositions. One of his characteristics is the clear outline of the figures. He gave emphasis on shape and line by making the outlines more evident, instead of only focusing on giving volume from the light and shadow of the color. His first piece of work that has the clearest influence from Lippi reveals the first steps of this technique. Botticelli painted Madonna with Child in 1467. The influence by Lippi is mostly evident in the characteristics of the angels surrounding the sweet-faced Virgin and also from the realistic depiction of the baby. All the


angels look very respectful to the moment and at the same time admiring baby Jesus. In a later work, Madonna with Child and Two Angels we see how even here, Lippi’s influence on the artist. The technique of Botticelli’s use of line is beginning to be more clear through this composition. The eyes, the outline of Mary’s face, the facial characteristics of the Angels and the background are all basic elements of Botticelli’s painting. In the delicate transparent details there is a striking resemblance between this work by Botticelli and the similar work by Lippi that hangs in the Uffizi. Both artists use high saturated colors to portray the peace and harmony of a holy scene.

“Madonna with Child and Angels” 1470

In 1475 Botticelli completed one of his most famous pieces of work, the Adoration of the Magi. It was a commission by Guasparre di Zanobi del Lama, a wealthy banker of the time. The painting depicts leading male members of the Medici family as the Magi positioned to the right of “Adoration of the Magi” 1475 the Mother and Child. This is information that art Adoration of the Magi, 1475 historians discovered long ago, when they also realized that Botticelli himself is depicted in the painting. He is seen on the right. The scene displays a rendition of the biblical scene wherein far-traveling Magi visited the newborn Christ-child in Bethlehem for the purpose of expressing their respect and adoration.


Portrait of Giuliano de Medici, 1477

The artist had a very close relationship with the Medici family of Florence. In 1477 he completed a portrait of Giuliano De Medici. What is very characteristic of this portrait is the seriousness of the figure. It seems as if because Giuliano De Medici wasn’t such a handsome man, Botticelli had a hard time painting him. He is depicted in profile in high saturated colors. The head looks quite disproportional as he gazes downward. He is sitting in front of a half open window and what is most interesting is that he has a small bird sitting on his left arm. Because the artist was so greatly admired by the Medici’s, he was commissioned to paint many other things for them.

Botticelli’s first masterpiece, Spring, also known as Primavera, was commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici for his house in Castello. The painting represents the allegory of spring as Mother Nature and the idea of fertility through the fertile period of spring. It consists of six female figures and two male, along with a putto (cupid) that is blindfolded. The six figures from left to right are Mercury, the three graces, Venus, Flora, Chloe and Zephyr. All the female Primavera, 1482 figures look pregnant in order to emphasize the idea of fertility. The faces of all the women are similar making this idea of beauty come alive. All the figures of the painting are life-size and what is most interesting is how they all have a unique expression on their face. The painting has a very strong sense of movement and rhythm. The idea of beauty is very well portrayed by the graceful movement of each figure, but especially the female figures. The arms of most of them are elongated and so are the necks giving a feeling of grace that is far from the reality of an actual human body. The same characteristics are used in Botticelli’s Birth of


Venus where the artist manages to give the idealized feeling of beauty through this single composition. The Birth of Venus is Botticelli’s masterpiece since it combines all the elements of his style. As a composition it is very balanced and there is a wonderful sense of design. He manages to portray the idea of beauty through the imperfections of the human female body in a beautiful way. This painting seems to be a kind of continuation of the Spring. Birth of Venus, 1485 because on the right hand of the composition there is a forest, very similar to the one in Spring, on the left it is raining flowers and also because of the repetition of Venus, one of the three graces, and Zephyr. It would make perfect sense if the two paintings were a continuation of one another due to the flow and sense of movement and rhythm they both express. In Birth of Venus, Botticelli again portrays a mythical scene. He has depicted the birth of the Goddess of beauty, Venus (Aphrodite). The composition consists of three more figures; the woman on the right is one of the three graces, and on the left are Zephyr and Aura, the two winds. Venus is the goddess of love and female beauty and since Botticelli was a master in portraying these elements on a female figure, he has managed to create one of the prettiest female figures of the Renaissance. The Birth of Venus (Detail), 1485 sensuality of the figures conveys the arrivals of Venus. The artist has purposely elongated the arm and neck of the goddess in order to create an invisible flow through the rhythm of line. With a closer look on Venus’s face it is easy to realize how Botticelli reached this ideal beauty through his technique. He has made a clear outline of the face, and the use of light and shadow is scarce. Her head is tilted giving movement to the hair. Her eyes are very expressive. Botticelli has carefully arranged the figures and used highly saturated colors to balance the composition.


Botticelli was indeed a master in portraying beauty. Even centuries later when his work is studied these characteristic elements of grace are the first things noticed about his work. What is most amazing is how he is well known for painting beauty so greatly and how even for someone who doesn’t understand art, this perception of beauty is always found and always recognized in his paintings.

Works Cited "Alessandro Botticelli Paintings -" Art in the – An Introduction to Art History. Web. 02 June 2011. Kender, Zoe. "Botticelli Biography." Botticelli - The Complete Works., 17 Feb. 2001. Web. 02 June 2011. "WebMuseum: Botticelli, Sandro." Ibiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive. Ed. Alexander M. Tomain. Alexander M. Tomain, 8 Sept. 2005. Web. 02 June 2011. Malaguzzi, Silvia. BOTTICELLI, The artist and his works. Florence:Giunti, Firenze Musei, 2003. Print. Venezia, Mike. Botticelli. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1993. Print. Basta, Chiara. Μποτιτσελι, Μεγαλοι Ζωγραφοι. Βιβλιοθηκη Τεχνης, «Η Καθηµερινη», 2006. Print.

Produced by: Kyveli Stenos


The Florentine Narrator: Domenico Ghirlandaio Early Renaissance (1449-1499)

Domenico Bigordi was a prominent Italian artist of the second half of the 15th century and is a worthy example of the High Renaissance. He was born in Florence in 1449 and died there at the age of 45 in 1494. His nickname “Ghirlandaio” was acquired by his initial occupation. He, like his father Tommaso Bigordi, had a jewelry business. He started as a goldsmith and specialized in “garland-making,” the manufacture of silver and gold jewelry for women. During his relatively short lifetime, he was a painter of the Florentine School and became known for his detailed narrative frescoes which include many characteristics of Florence at the time. Giorgio Vasari, the biographer of the Renaissance, begins his Life of Ghirlandaio with the following statement: “Domenico di Tommaso del Ghirlandaio, who for the excellence, size and multitude of his works deserves to be considered one of the best masters of his age, was meant by Nature to be a painter, and despite the opposition of his guardian, he followed his natural bent and won great honor at his art for himself and his house, enriching and charming his age.” (Micheletti 4) Therefore, we can understand the greatness of Ghirlandaio as an artist, who may not be so widely known as his contemporary Botticelli or his student Michelangelo, but he nevertheless was a significant artist during the Renaissance and especially of Florence.

Madonna of Mercy, 1472-75 Church of Ognissanti Florence

Almost nothing is known about his training as a painter or the beginning of his career. Vasari tells us that he must have been a pupil of the Florentine painter Alesso Baldovinetti, although the


master was only 5 years older than the pupil. In the 1460s, due to the patronage of the Vespucci family, Ghirlandaio started to work independently. The frescoes at the church of Ognissanti, in Florence, must be his earliest works, commissioned by his guardians, the Vespuccis. In the church of Ognissanti, particularly the Vespucci chapel, Ghirlandaio was commissioned by the powerful family to paint a cycle of frescoes. Among them is the Madonna of Mercy, painted between 1472-5. The Virgin Mary is portrayed as a loving and protecting mother, embracing the Vespucci family. The young boy depicted under the Madonna’s right arm is said to be the famous explorer, Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512). In these Ognissanti frescoes the inspiration of Baldovinetti was marginal and Ghirlandaio had succeeded in creating a distinct personality in painting, already defined from such an early age. He also showed his innate ability as a portraitist. He had St. Jerome in his Study, the ability to accurately portray anyone he saw, 1480 Church of a talent wrought at his father’s goldsmith shop, Ognissanti Florence where he drew every person who passed by. Later on, in 1480, Ghirlandaio returned to Ognissanti in order to execute two of his most famous works. The first one is Saint Jerome in his Study. This fresco is particularly important because it is a companion piece to St. Augustine by his Florentine contemporary, Sandro Botticelli. The difference between the two reveals Ghirlandaio’s rather anecdotal style. Also, the fresco seems to be an enlarged version of an oil painting by the Flemish painter Jan van Last Supper, after 1480 Eyck. This work was Convent of San Marco accomplished with excessive Florence ease, even though it is full of objects that suffocate its


impact. Although it reflects the artist’s careful attention to detail and realism, it also underlines an unsatisfactory period of the painter, especially when compared to Botticelli’s. In addition, his painting of the Last Supper, executed in the refectory of the convent in Ognissanti, is made in the typical Ghirlandaio spirit: “he, as ever, remains rather psychologically superficial and uninterested in any form of dramatic expression.” (Micheletti 18) Undoubtedly, the most beautiful of his Last Suppers seems to be the one in the convent of San Marco, where the hand of the master is clearest and most immediate. It reveals a serenity and great faithfulness to life. Judas is sitting on the other side of the table, isolated from the rest of the disciples. A great detail, a cat, the symbol of craftiness and unfaithfulness, is depicted by his side. The symbol of eternity, the peacock, is standing by the window. Last of all, the lines of the painting are interesting as they divide it both horizontally and vertically. The column above Christ’s head is pointing at him and the horizontal line of the halos and the inscription divide it into earthly and heavenly places. The young Ghirlandaio was now well-known and was commissioned to complete two frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. As a result, he moved to Rome under the favor of Pope Sixtus IV in 1481. There, “he showed himself as a watchful artist with a tranquil and even temperament, capable of organizing complicated compositions with many well arranged figures” (Olga's Gallery). The Calling of St. Peter was certainly a considerable undertaking and he succeeded in portraying a solemnity, unequalled before or after that. Most of the expressions are serious and remind us of Masaccio’s gravitas in “Tribute Money.” The apostles who are summoned, Peter and Andrew, are Calling of St Peter, 1481-82 humble before Christ. The artist Vatican, Sistine Chapel seems to have been influenced by Rome Botticelli and Perugino, as well. All the figures on the right are almost surely portrayed after illustrious families of both Rome and Florence. The aerial perspective and the perfect depiction of Nature add realism and excellence to the scene. What's more,


“Ghirlandaio must have used his stay in Rome to study Roman antiquities at first hand, for many details of triumphal arches, ancient sarcophagi, and similar antique elements occur in his works throughout the rest of his career” ( The following years were characterized by great maturity in his works. Domenico was commissioned by Francesco Sassetti, an agent of the Medici bank, to paint a cycle of frescoes in the Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita in Florence. The frescoes were completed between 1482 and 1485. The main frescoes represent scenes from the life of St. Francis, Sassetti’s patron saint. Once more, the frescoes contain many details of the buildings and customs of the period. ( The most beautiful of all is the Nativity or the Adoration of the Shepherds. The Roman antiquities he studied in Rome are evident now and the influence of his contemporaries’ work as well. The realism and humanism are evident and we see on the right the figure of a shepherd pointing at Christ with respect. This is a self-portrait of Ghirlandaio himself. “Here, in all-pervading calm, in the absence of every tension, we discover Ghirlandaio’s religious faith and the serenity of his soul, expressed with intellectual complication […] In him and his work, birth is serene, death peaceful and sweet.” (Micheletti 38) Nativity, 1482-85 Santa Trinita, Sassetti Chapel Florence

By this time, Ghirlandaio was possibly the most famous painter in Florence. He was popular among patrons of the arts and wealthy men, because he portrayed them and their city, which had, in the most splendid way, become one of the main cultural and economical centers of Europe. The artist’s last and greatest fresco cycle was painted for another Medici banker, Giovanni Tornabuoni. It represents scenes from the life of the Virgin and St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. The contract was signed in 1485 and Ghirlandaio began working in the Tornabuoni Chapel, on the walls of the choir of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. This series of narrative detail depicted the city and its people in contemporary dress at the end of the 15th century.


The fifteen frescoes that adorn the walls of the Tornabuoni Chapel are rightfully numbered among the most celebrated in Florence. “They are Ghirlandaio’s most popular work and are reckoned among the greatest Italian masterpieces.” (Virtual Uffizi Gallery) First, Birth of Mary, 1485-90 from the stories of the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella Florence Virgin, the Birth of Mary represents the relatives of her mother, St Anne, coming to visit and congratulate her. “We look into a fashionable apartment of the late 15th century, and witness the formal visit of well-to-do ladies of the society. Ghirlandaio proved that he knew how to arrange his groups effectively and how to give pleasure to the eye. He showed that he shared the taste of his contemporaries for the themes of ancient art, for he took care to depict a relief of dancing children, in the classical manner, in the background of the room.” (Gombrich 304) The achievements of the Renaissance are obvious in this painting. First, the sculpted relief of dancing children is a revolutionary element. It was during that era that the artists managed to depict sculpture in a painting with such a degree of realism. Ghirlandaio seems a master on this, along with other types of textures that are distinguished. Also, the water pouring down is clear along with the wind blowing the girl’s dress. Besides these elements, the architecture is evident as well. The scene is divided into two smaller ones by the column with a “Corinthian” capital. On the left we have St. Anne laying on the bed, Baby Mary and the maid. The visitors unify that part with the scene on the right. It is a biblical scene recounting the moment St. Anne meets her husband. The way the artist has depicted it is innovative, as they are hugging kindheartedly. “Along the cornice, in gold lettering, runs the inscription: ‘Your birth, oh Virgin Mother, announced joy to the whole universe’” and the panels below show his full name. (Micheletti 44)


On the opposite wall, in the Stories of the Baptist we come across a beautiful depiction of the Visitation. According to Vasari, it is “the Visitation of Our Lady and St Elizabeth accompanied by women wearing the costumes of the day.” This scene depicts the Florence of the late 15th century in the background. All the women are dressed in the fashion of the time and the artist shows his excellence in aerial perspective, incorporation of architecture and careful attention to detail. “The Visitation is one of the most moving gospel stories in artistic iconography – the meeting between two women who carry within themselves two miracles: the already aged Elisabeth who through divine will conceived a son who would be the precursor of Christ; and the young Mary, who knew not man and conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit.” (Micheletti 50) The two women embrace each other in an act of affection and mutual respect. Visitation, 1485-90 Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella Florence

Last of all, Ghirlandaio succeeded in painting on wood, too. A perfect example of this is the Portrait of an Old Man with a Child. The year of its creation is not known with certainty, although it is estimated between 1480 and 1490. Surely, it shows Ghirlandaio’s mature style and the Florentine tradition that aimed for the realistic rendition of the subject. An old man with a pimply (strawberry) nose, gazes affectionately at a young child with blonde hair, supposedly his grandson. His grey hair is so real as to closely resemble certain Flemish images. The boy has a delicate profile and presses tenderly against his grandfather. “Never before in the name of realism Portrait of an Old Man with a Child Wood, had such careful attention been paid to ugly, even Panel 62x46 cm disfiguring detail.” (Virtual Uffizi Gallery) This Louvre, Paris portrait is perhaps Ghirlandaio’s finest painting, notable for its tenderness, humanity, simplicity and directness of handling.


In conclusion, Ghirlandaio was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the best painters of his generation. However, during the 19th century his degree of realism was only appreciated for its decorative details. Of course, his work has recently been reevaluated and he is now regarded as one of the most eloquent narrators of Florentine society at the end of the 15th century, whose frescoes still grace the walls of Italy’s finest churches.

Works Cited "Domenico Bigordi Called Ghirlandaio Biography.” Virtual Uffizi Gallery. 20 May 2011 "Domenico Ghirlandaio. Biography.” Olga's Gallery - Online Art Museum. 20 May 2011 "Domenico Ghirlandaio." 2011. 20 May 2011 "Ghirlandaio, Domenico." Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). 22 Mar. 2011 Gombrich, E. H. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon, 1964. Micheletti, Emma. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Antella, Florence, Italy: Scala, 1994. Murray, Peter J. "Domenico Ghirlandaio." Encyclopedia Britannica. 5 May 2011 Murray, Peter, and Linda Murray. Dictionary of Art and Artists. New York: Praeger, 1966.

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Florentine Artist, Great Master of the High Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci High Renaissance (1452 - 1519) Leonardo da Vinci was a Florentine artist, who was renowned as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and scientist. His deep love of knowledge and research was the keynote of both his artistic and scientific activities. His innovations in the field of painting influences the course of Italian art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific studies – particularly in anatomy, optics and hydraulics anticipated many of the developments of modern science. Leonardo was born On April 15, 1452, in the small town of Vinci, near Florence. He was the son of a wealthy Florentine notary and a peasant woman. In the mid 1460’s the family settle in Florence, where Leonardo was given the best education that Florence, the intellectual and artistic center of Italy, could offer. In 1466, he was apprenticed as a garzone (studio boy) to Andrea del Verrocchio the leading Florentine painter and sculpture of his day. In Verrocchio’s workshop Leonardo was introduced to many activities, from the painting of altarpieces and panel picture to create large sculptural projects in marble and bronze. By 1478, Leonardo had Self-portrait, Da Vinci become an independent master. His first commission was to paint an altarpiece for the chapel of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Florentine town hall. However, it was never executed. Leonardo da Vinci’s first large painting was the Adoration of the Magi, which he began in 1481 in the Uffizi for the Monastery of San Donato a The Adoration of the Magi, 1481 Uffizi

Scopeto, in Florence. It remained unfinished because Leonardo left Florence and moved to Milan, though we do not know


why he did so. With this painting Leonardo declares his independence from Verrocchio, emerging with a fresh, personal style. Although unfinished, this painting is far more pioneering than his previous works. The composition is constructed around a central, pyramidal grouping of figures, and, most significantly, Leonardo here incorporates the effective use of light and dark in the under-drawing of this painting. Even though the panel remained unfinished, the Adoration of the Magi, with its symmetrically composed main group which differs from the traditional linear composition, is now considered one of the most progressive works in Florentine painting. All the figures are involved in the events in the picture. The distinguished kings show their emotions in a more dignified manner than the accompanying figures around them, and the overall number of participants is kept within moderation. The figures are grouped in a circle around Mary and are expressing, with more or less vigorous gestures, their emotion at the first demonstration of divinity of the Christ Child. The painting also differs from the traditional way of depicting the Adoration, by means of the puzzling scenes in the background, the riding battles and an unfinished staircase. The Adoration of the Magi introduces a new approach to composition from the figures that are grouped in the background, and how the background consists of distant view of imaginary ruins and battle scenes. Other works Leonardo completed in his youth, included the Portrait of Ginevra de’Benci and the unfinished Saint Jerome (1481, Pinacoteca Vatican). Leonardo learned a variety of skills that he would master later on in his career. Although this painting is rather Portrait of Ginevra de’Benci, 1474-78 National Gallery of Art, Washington

Virgin of the Rocks, 1483-85 Louvre, Paris


traditional, it includes details such as Ginevra's curling hair that only Leonardo could achieve. Leonardo has painted a sensitive and finely modeled image of Ginevra. This painting shows the beginning of a technique that Leonardo developed later in his career a technique called sfumato. This technique adds the sense of life to the figure by having a blurry outline and mellow colors that merge forms into shadow, which was fully developed in the Mona Lisa. The most important of his own paintings during the early Milan period was The Virgin of the Rocks, two versions of which exist (148385, Louvre, Paris; 1490s to 150608, National Gallery, London); he worked on the compositions for a long time, seemingly unwilling to finish what he had begun. The painting in the Louvre for the ancona, a carved wooden altar with frames where paintings were inserted (, in the chapel of the Immacolata in the church of San Francesco Grande in Milan, has distinctly sixteenth-century characteristics: larger figures, made more plastic by a very decided chiaroscuro, so unlike Leonardo that scholars were immediately led to consider the work a collaboration. This London version shows some details generally neglected by Leonardo in the other version: the haloes of the figures, the child Saint John's cross of reeds. Other elements which differ from the Louvre version are the angel’s pose, who no longer points his finger towards the little Paraclete, and his face, whose gaze no longer seeks out the spectator, but is directed inwards. The drapery, too, which in the Paris version was heavy and concealed the body, is lighter, revealing the figure’s structure. Also, the rocks seem painted in a more plastic fashion; the light does not glide over them, creating dewy areas of semi-darkness, but leaves strong contrasts of light and dark. The flesh of the children here is less tender, and though the shadows are firm, the children's faces seem flatter and less sweet than those of the two in the Louvre version. The intervention of followers on the Virgin of the Rocks, 1495-1508 London, National Gallery


painting already sketched by Leonardo has made “the portrayal less vibrant, more banal, though it retains a compositional authority and originality in its variants that make this work not a copy but an autonomous version, of high quality, of the unequalled masterpiece in the Louvre” (Web Gallery The Last Supper, 1498 of Art). Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Leonardo's stylistic innovations are more apparent in The Last Supper, a mural in the refectory of the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan in which he re-created a traditional theme in an entirely new way. Instead of showing the 12 apostles as individual figures, he grouped them in compositional units of three, framing the figure of Christ, who is isolated in the center of the picture. Leonardo reintroduced a style pioneered more than a generation earlier by Masaccio. ”Leonardo's Last Supper is not a depiction of a simple or chronological action, but links the individual events told in the Gospels, from the announcement of the presence of a traitor to the introduction of the Eucharist, to such an extent that the moment depicted is a meeting of the two events.” (Santi, 120) The Apostles from left to right: Bartholomew, James the Less, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Christ, Thomas, James the Greater, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon. In 1502, Leonardo entered the service of Cesare Borgia, the duke of Romagna. Study of battles on In his power as the horseback, 1503-04 duke's chief Uffizi, Florence architect and engineer, Leonardo supervised work on the fortresses of the papal territories in central Italy. In 1503, he was a member of a commission of artists who were to decide on the proper location The Battle of Anghiari (detail), for the David (1501-04, Accademia, 1503-05 Musée du Louvre, Paris Florence), the famous colossal marble


statue by the Italian sculptor Michelangelo, and he also served as an engineer in the war against Pisa. Towards the end of the year, Leonardo began to design a decoration for the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio. The subject was the Battle of Anghiari, a Florentine victory in its war with Pisa. He made many drawings for it and completed a full-size cartoon, or sketch, in 1505, but he never finished the wall painting. The cartoon itself was destroyed in the 17th century, and the composition survives only in copies. This shows one of many composition studies, and media studies that Leonardo did before creating the actual piece. It shows his creativity and his experimental studies, but also it shows a step of developing his mature style later on. There is evidence that he is developing the expressive content in his figures. He portrays pain and fear, but also Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), 1503anger from the horseman and the horse all 05 MusĂŠe du Louvre, Paris being intertwined. During this second Florentine period, Leonardo painted several portraits, but the only one that survives is the famous Mona Lisa (1503-06, Louvre). One of the most celebrated portraits ever painted, it is also known as La Gioconda, after the presumed name of the woman's husband (Web Gallery of Art). Leonardo seems to have had a special affection for the picture, for he took it with him on all of his subsequent travels. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo's most famous work, is as well known for its mastery of technical innovations as for the mysteriousness of its legendary smiling subject. This work is a consummate example of two techniques, sfumato and chiaroscuro, of which Leonardo was one of the first great masters. Sfumato is characterized by “subtle, almost infinitesimal transitions between color areas, creating a soft atmospheric haze or smoky effectâ€? (; it is especially evident in the Vitruvian Man, 1492 Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

delicate robes worn by the sitter, in her beautiful smile and her chin. Chiaroscuro is the


technique of “modeling and defining forms through contrasts of light and shadowâ€?; the sensitive hands of the sitter are portrayed with a luminous modulation of light and shade, while color contrast is used only sparingly ( From the beginning it was greatly admired and much copied, and it came to be considered the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. It became even more famous in 1911, when it was stolen from the Salle CarrĂŠe on 21 August 1911 by Vicenzo Perrugia, an Italian workman. In 1913 it was found in Florence, exhibited at the Uffizi, then in Rome and Milan, and brought back to Paris on 31 December in the same year (History Channel). This figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion of Anatomical studies of the her day and seated in a visionary, shoulder, 1510-11 mountainous landscape, is a remarkable Royal Library, Windsor instance of Leonardo's sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame. In 1506 Leonardo went again to Milan, at the summons of its French governor, Charles d'Amboise. The following year he was named court painter to King Louis XII of France, who was then residing in Milan. For the next six years Leonardo divided his time between Milan and Florence, where he often visited his half brothers and half sisters and looked after his inheritance. In Milan, he continued his engineering projects and worked on an equestrian figure for a monument to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, commander of the French forces in the city; although the project was not completed, drawings and studies have been preserved. Leonardo's many drawings reveal his brilliant draftsmanship and his mastery of the anatomy of humans, animals, and plant life, may be found in the principal European collections; the largest group is at Windsor Castle in England. Leonardo left hundreds of notebooks Star of Bethlehem and other filled with drawings in which he explored plants, 1505-07 ideas, compositions, or inventions. His Royal Library, Windsor curiosity led him to sketch and puzzle out


diverse subjects, such as running water, growing plants, and human anatomy. Leonardo's depiction of the "Star of Bethlehem" plant has moved away from a previous nature study and stylizes the structure of the plant. The flowers are growing out of a draped ring of leaves. This plant appears in both studies of the kneeling Leda. Growth and birth were not merely the theme of the Leda compositions, but reflected the more general interests of Leonardo during this period. In the animal studies Leonardo displays significant delicacy in the modeling of the outer surface of the horse, and this combines with a confidence in its figural design. Since the Adoration of the Magi Leonardo had become Study of horses, 1490 particularly interested in horses, and this is Royal Library, Windsor documented by a large number of studies of their proportions and movements. Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance architect, musician, anatomist, inventor, engineer, sculptor, geometer, and painter. He has been described as the model of the "Renaissance man" and as a universal genius. He is known for designing many inventions that anticipated modern technology, although few of these designs were constructed in his lifetime. In addition, he helped advance the study of anatomy, astronomy, and civil engineering. Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between sciences and arts.


Works Cited "Leonardo Da Vinci Biography." Italian Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. Leonardo Da Vinci Paintings, Inventions and His Complete Biography! Web. 15 Mar. 2011. "Leonardo Da Vinci -The Complete Works." Leonardo Da Vinci – The Complete Works. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. Kren, Emil, and Daniel Marx. Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web. 17 Mar. 2011. Santi, Bruno. Leonardo DaVinci. [Vincenza]: Scala, 1990. Print. "Mona Lisa Recovered in Florence — This Day in History 12/12/1913." — History Made Every Day — American & World History. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. "Life After People — The Last Supper — Videos." History Made Every Day — American & World History. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. "Leonardo Da Vinci — Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts." — History Made Every Day — American & World History. Web. 15 Mar. 2011.

Produced by: Daphne Cavadias


The Humanist: Michelangelo Buonarroti Sculpture Renaissance (1475-1564)

Michelangelo Buonarroti was a famous artist of the 13th and 14th centuries. He was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, central Italy. However, he moved to Florence only a few months after his birth and thus was exposed to the Florentine Renaissance. He is most famous today for his frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican, in Rome. However, in addition to being a most inspired painter, he was also a sculptor. The attitude, style and feeling in his sculptures changed drastically over the years, showing clear shifts in his artistic development.

Bacchus, 1496–1497, Bargello, Florence

This sculpture, a representation of an ancient mythological god, is very different from the artist’s later woks. This Bacchus seems slightly androgynous and smooth--a very “finished” looking work.


Measuring 1.74 m, this Pieta, is very imposing and sublime. The anatomy is very realistic and the depiction of many physical details seems extremely daring for the time. Yet this shocking piece of work doesn’t seem all that pessimistic. Jesus’ body is facing heaven and brings the viewers’ eye upwards. It almost seems as if the artist Pieta, 1498-1499 St.Peter’s, Rome suggests that the future of mankind will be better because of this man’s sacrifice.

The David, 1501 The Academy, Florence

At first glance, this sculpture seems very imposing and overpowering. However, one can argue that some of David’s features are out of proportion, thus making him look slightly awkward. What can be said for sure is that the stunning realism in the body, the size and the posture give David a very strong, forceful presence.


Tondo Pitti, 1504 Bargello, Florence

This tondo (a round painting or relief sculpture) is a testament of Michelangelo’s developing later style. He is slowly abandoning clear outlines and smooth surfaces. This unpolished look will be brought to its peak later on.

Dying Slave, 1513–1516 Louvre, Paris

This slave seems very sensuous, as if he has resigned himself to a slow death. Here we can see a truly honest piece of artwork; it is evidence that the Gothic taboo against depicting the naked body has been surpassed.


Bearded Slave, 1520–1523 The Academy, Florence

This slave, never finished, seems to be struggling to free himself from the surrounding marble. Perhaps it shows the artist’s process of freeing figures from the material. One could also argue that this depicts some kind of struggle. This sculpture clearly reflects the artist’s mature style; the unpolishedunfinished appearance, the chiseled surfaces with the different types of textures all over.


Left: Pieta Palestina, (date), The Academy, Florence

The date of this work is unknown. It is also unknown whether or not this work was completed by Michelangelo or one of his students. There are both smooth and jagged surfaces. It is a piece of sculpture containing a variety of different textures.

Right: David-Apollo, 1531-32 Bargello, Florence

We can definitely see that the artist has abandoned clear outlines and polished surfaces. Of course, this work was never brought to completion, but it gives us a sense of roughness that we see in some other works.


Michelangelo’s last sculpture was again a Pieta. He left it unfinished. He had planned to use this sculpture to decorate his own tomb. He tried to destroy this piece and a lot of damage can be seen. One of his students did his best to reconstruct the broken parts. The sculpture consists of four largerthan-life figures etched out of a single block of marble. It consists of Christ being held by Nicodemos, with Mary Magdalene and the Virgin on either side of him. Only Mary Magdalene and Christ are finished. It can be said that Nicodemos portrays certain features of the artist, himself- - especially the face. This later work of his seems to focus a lot Florentine Pieta, 1547-1555 on death and how it pulls Jesus towards the ground rather than lifts him up towards the heavens. The lines the artist uses seem to be very jagged and unruly. The figures are extremely weighty and look old and exhausted. Generally, everything about it seems to draw the viewer’s eye down to earth, creating a general mood of pessimism in contrast to his first Pieta. Michelangelo, a very gifted artist, seems to have recorded in his work what so many people go through in their lives, which is an incredible lust for life in their twenties and a


pessimistic attitude and a preoccupation with death by the time they are a lot older. Michelangelo the sculptor was not only a technical expert, but also a very imaginative and innovative artist. He was obviously not satisfied with anything less than what he believed to be perfect and had the idiosyncrasies of an inventive character who followed his own path. This is probably why his sculpture is so extremely personal with an individual style and a very personal understanding of esthetics.


Works Cited Bonner, Neil R. "Michelangelo Buonarroti." Michelangelo. 14 Dec. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Clark, Kenneth. Civilisation: a Personal View. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990. Print. Finnan, Vincent. "Michelangelo Sculptures Renaissance Gems." Italian Renaissance Art. 2008-2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Firenze Musei: Bargello Museum. The Collections, Bargello Museum. Web. 26 May 2011. "The Florentine Pietá Michelangelo Buonarroti - The Deposition | The Michelangelo Experience." The Michelangelo Experience Tour | Michelangelo Buonarroti Sculptures, Paintings and Biography - The Michelangelo Experience, Inc. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Krιn, Emil, and Daniel Marx. "MICHELANGELO Buonarroti." Web Gallery of Art, Image Collection, Virtual Museum, Searchable Database of European Fine Arts (1000-1850). Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Lieberman, Ralph. "Regarding Michelangelo's "Bacchus"" Regarding Michelangelo's "Bacchus" IRSA S. C., 20 May 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. "Michelangelo-Sculptures." Renaissance Art, Artists, and Society. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. "Tondo Pitti Michelangelo Buonarroti Ca. 1504-5 | Michelangelo Sculpture | The Michelangelo Experience." The Michelangelo Experience Tour | Michelangelo Buonarroti Sculptures, Paintings and Biography – The Michelangelo Experience, Inc. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.

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Grander than Life: Michelangelo Buonarroti Painting Renaissance (1475 – 1564)

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer, born on March 6th 1475 near Arezzo, Caprese, in Tuscany. He was recognized by his own contemporaries as one of the greatest artists of his time. Michelangelo was an apprentice in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio in Florence from the age of 13, where he received basic training in draughtsmanship and fresco painting techniques, but he preferred to study the work of great masters on his own. He trained himself by copying the work of Giotto in the Peruzzi Chapel of the Santa Croce Church and Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of the Carmine, both in Florence. Michelangelo always thought of himself primarily as a sculptor, so when Pope Julius II told him that he has to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (the private Chapel of the Pope) he refused at first and suggested that Raphael do it instead. However, he was forced to take the job and began with a very simple plan to paint the Twelve Apostles in niches with some appropriate decoration. A while later he saw that the plan was very simple, so he came up with a scheme that astonished people by its originality and complexity. The decoration of this wall painting is full of human and divine figures divided into sections by architectural structures that look threedimensional. This vault shows the nine scenes from the Old Testament in the middle, and the Sybils surrounding them.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling, 1508-1512


The Deluge, (in Sistine Chapel ceiling)

The Deluge, also known as The Flood, was one of the scenes from the Old Testament found on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo used males to pose for him, even if he wanted to paint a woman, which is why all the bodies, which are mainly nude, are very muscular and resemble the male figure. This fresco shows the how Michelangelo’s figures are all twisted and he has also used foreshortening, which are two of his style characteristics. The painting depicts different scenes from the Old Testament all put together so as to create the essence of the painting as a whole, rather than looking at each fragment individually.

The Original Sin, (in Sistine Chapel ceiling)

The Original Sin, again found in the Sistine Chapel ceiling, shows Adam and Eve both before, and after they have sinned. Again, the figures are twisted in this fresco, and the bodies are very muscular, even Eve’s. Michelangelo has also outlined everything in black for emphasis and to make everything stand out. This fresco also shows the influence of Massacio on Michelangelo – Michelangelo’s Adam and Eve (after the Sin – detailed view), and Massacio’s fresco The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1424 – 28) found in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence.


The only similarity seen in both these frescoes is the subject matter, which would be the background, being a simple landscape, the sky, the angel pushing Adam and Eve away, and Adam and Eve. Massacio – The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Michelangelo – The Original Sin (detailed view)

However, the bodies and facial expressions in both these frescos are completely different. Michelangelo’s figures are very muscular, even Eve’s, unlike Masaccio’s which look very smooth. Adam in Michelangelo’s fresco looks as if he is trying to make the angel go away, having a very sad and depressed facial expression, with Eve trying to hide behind him. In Massacio’s fresco both Adam and Eve are leaving more peaceful, without having the angel push them away. The Delphic Sybil is another scene found on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and is one of the Sybils (the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ). In this fresco, the Sybil is twisted and has a very manly body again. Her arms are very muscular, but her face is painted in a very feminine way. The drapery is very colorful and shows a lot of movement, which also makes the figure look more feminine. The colour mostly seen in this fresco is orange, which is common in Michelangelo’s paintings and the gold details in the background make The Delphic Sybil, (fresco found the scene look richer. on Sistine Chapel ceiling)


In 1534, Michelangelo left Florence and went to Rome, where he was asked by Pope Clement VII to paint another fresco in the Sistine Chapel. The wall is 13.7 x 12.2 meters, but Michelangelo decided to build over the windows so that he could use the entire space to create a complex and powerful scene of Christ sending souls to heaven and hell. He created a swirling chaos of bodies that suggests man’s moderated power before God and reaffirms God’s Judgment as the symbol of Supreme Law. This fresco, The Last Judgment (1536 – 1541) is The Last Judgment, 1536 - 1541 fresco behind the rather dark compared to his earlier work. In the middle altar in the Sistine Chapel there is a very humanistic depiction of Christ sending the souls of the saved humans to heaven (the top) and the damned to hell (the bottom). Mary is nestled under his raised arm looking mournful. Once again, all of the figures are twisted and the bodies are all very muscular and not bearded. Five years after Michelangelo had finished painting The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, he was selected to be the architect of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome. People in Italy started to worry about whether or not Michelangelo would have time to finish the dome before passing away. Michelangelo died in Rome at the age of 88, having finished the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring. However the completion of the design was predictable. His body was brought back from Rome for the funeral at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro's last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.


Works Cited Berti, Luciano, and Buonarroti Michelangelo. All the Works of Michelangelo. Florence: Bonechi Edizioni "Il Turismo", 1994. Print. Bramante, Donato. "Michelangelo Paints the Sistine Chapel." EyeWitness to History - history through the eyes of those who lived it. Web. 26 May 2011. "Ceiling." Musei Vaticani - Sito Ufficiale. Web. 26 May 2011. Di, Cagno Gabriella., Simone Boni, L. R. Galante, and Susan Ashley. Michelangelo. Minneapolis, MN: Oliver, 2008. Print. Michelangelo: The Man and The Myth, brought to you by Syracuse University. Web. 26 May 2011. "Michelangelo." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 26 May 2011. "Sistine Chapel ceiling." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 26 May 2011. "Sistine Chapel." Musei Vaticani - Sito Ufficiale. Web. 26 May 2011.

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The Great Harmonizer: Raffaello Sanzio High Italian Renaissance (1483-1520)

Raffaello Sanzio (aka Raphael) was born on April 6th, 1483 in Urbino. Under the rule of Federico da Montefeltro (a patron of the arts), the court of Urbino became a center of artistic development. In his early life, Raphael apprenticed under his father, Giovanni Santi, and Pietro Perugino – Raphael’s early work is heavily influenced by Perugino’s style.

Crucifixion (1502-1503) is the first work signed by Raphael. As Raphael apprenticed under Perugino for four years, Raphael remained heavily influenced by Perugino throughout his early years. Perugino’s influence is seen in the clear, harmonious organization, the lack of excessive detail, and the elongated figures. However, Raphael’s own style is becoming more evident in the modeling of the figures and the vibrant colors. In 1503, Raphael moved to Florence; it was there that he began to experiment with new techniques. Crucifixion, 1502-1503

Despite the political turmoil in Florence in the early 16th century, the city remained a haven for artists. It was here that Raphael began to develop his own style, experimenting with classical themes, perspective, and chiaroscuro (the interplay of light and shadow). The Marriage of the Virgin (1504) is the best example of Raphael’s refined style; the circular composition, use of open space, and high Marriage of the Virgin, 1504


command of perspective are key aspects of Raphael’s new style. However, Raphael still retains elements of his earlier Peruginesque style with his graceful figures and harmonious composition. It is not until a few years later that he completely breaks with his Peruginesque roots.

Another work completed in 1504, Madonna del Granduca, is also important in understanding Raphael’s influences. Madonna del Granduca shows clear influences from Leonardo da Vinci; the dark background, blurred outlines, and sweet emotion are all aspects of Leonardo’s style. However, Madonna del Granduca also represents the Raphael Virgin. The simple, understated composition and the Virgin’s tender protectiveness of the Child have come to symbolize the Virgin herself. According to Gombrich, “Raphael’s vision of the Holy Virgin has been adopted by subsequent generations in the same way as Michelangelo’s conception of God the Father.” (Gombrich 316) Madonna del Granduca, 1504

By 1506, Raphael had completely abandoned his Peruginesque roots. This break is clearly seen in Madonna of the Goldfinch (1507), which draws on the works of Michelangelo and Flemish artists. Raphael is often dubbed the “great harmonizer” because of his ability to harmonize multiple styles in a single canvas; although Raphael may have been influenced by multiple artists, he maintained his own unique style. Madonna of the Goldfinch reveals these multiple influences in the triangular composition, the Leonardesque landscape, and the Flemish spires in the background. Madonna of the Goldfinch, 1507


However, the tenderness of the Virgin, the humanistic gestures of the figures, and the bright colors are examples of Raphael’s developing style. The Triumph of Galatea (15121514) was commissioned by a wealthy Italian banker to decorate his villa outside of Rome, La Farnesina. This fresco was inspired by a poem written by Angelo Poliziano (which also inspired The Birth of Venus), and depicts the triumphant escape of Galatea from Polyphemus, her unwanted suitor. The Triumph of Galatea combines mythology (Galatea was a nymph and Polyphemus a giant) and harmony to create a cheerful, well-balanced scene. The geometry of this fresco is particularly striking; every The Triumph of Galatea, 1512-1514 figure is countered by an opposing movement and all the lines converge on Galatea’s face. According to art historians, Raphael had achieved “what the older generation had striven so hard to achieve: the perfect and harmonious composition of freely moving figures.” (Gombrich 320) Although Raphael usually painted idealized beauty and did not use human models, Donna Velata (1516) is considered Raphael’s finest female portrait. Like all Renaissance artists, Raphael did paint portraiture for commission; however, Donna Velata (“Veiled Woman”) was based on La Fornarina, a woman Raphael loved. La Fornarina’s dark eyes and oval face stand out from the background, lending her both dignity and restraint. The detailed clothing in Donna Velata reveals the extent of Raphael’s skill; not only was he

Donna Velata, 1516


successful at painting harmonious scenes, Raphael was also able to paint delicate details. This skill is seen in Raphael’s later works as well. Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de’Medici and Luigi de’Rossi (also known as Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals) (1518) is considered Raphael’s last masterpiece. Although Raphael was known for his idealized depiction of beauty, the group portrait is very realistic. The rich details on the illuminated book, carved bell, and velvet cloaks not only illustrate the Pope’s rich taste, but also the power of the Catholic Church. Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals was painted at the time of Luther’s accusations, and as Superintendent of Antiquities, Raphael felt a duty to defend the Catholic Church. However, the whole scene may not have been his. Raphael’s ability to work well with others allowed Pope Leo X with Two him to keep a vibrant and productive workshop Cardinals, 1518 – it has been speculated that the portraits of the two cardinals were done by students of his. Either way, this sensational painting symbolically closes Raphael’s career. On April 6, 1520, Raphael died; the epitaph on his tomb reads: Here lies Raphael, by whom Nature feared to be outdone while he lived, and when he died, feared that she herself would die too.


The School of Athens, 1509

In 1508, Raphael was summoned by Pope Julius II to decorate the Vatican apartments in Rome. Although most of the work was done by Raphael’s assistants and pupils, the Camera della Segnatura was done only by Raphael himself. The masterpiece of this room is The School of Athens (1509), which symbolizes knowledge acquired through philosophy. The School of Athens is framed by Classical architecture, symbolizing clarity and reason. In order to emphasize the idea of reason, Raphael did not include any allegorical figures; all of the figures were real men. The two central figures are Aristotle and Plato, two opposing Classical philosophers. Aristotle points to God as the source of inspiration, while Plato points to the Earth as the source of knowledge. Raphael also incorporated Classical figures such as Euclid and Heraclitus; however, these men were represented by his contemporaries. Bramante (architect of St. Peter’s Cathedral), Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo represent Euclid, Plato, and Heraclitus respectively. It is also interesting to note that Raphael included a self-portrait of himself. Tucked into the far right corner, he is the only figure defiantly staring out of


the painting. Raphael frequently included self-portraits of himself in his works, perhaps to preserve his image for posterity. The School of the Athens is perhaps the most well-known example of Raphael’s mature style. His use of perspective, Classical architecture, bright color, balanced composition, and powerful figures all define his mature style. Furthermore, all of Raphael’s great influences can be seen within The School of Athens: Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. The School of Athens is an example of Raphael’s mastery of harmonious composition and humanistic beauty. According to Vasari (a contemporary), Raphael’s paintings “are living things; the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere.”

Works Cited Fossi, Gloria. Uffizi: Art, History, Collections. Florence: Giunti Editore S.p.A., 2010. Print. Gombrich, E. H. "Tuscany and Rome, Early Sixteenth Century." The Story of Art. 16th ed. London: Phaidon, 1995. Print. Pioch, Nicolas. "Raphael." Ibiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive. WebMuseum, Paris, 19 July 2006. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. Santi, Bruno. Raphael. Trans. Paul Blanchard. Florence: SCALA, 1991. Print. Toman, Rolf. "Raphael (Raffaello Santi)." The Art of the Italian Renaissance: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Drawing. Mark Harden's Artchive. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.

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Venetian School Colorist: Titian Renaissance (1488–1576)

Tiziano Vecellio was the greatest Venetian artist of the 16th Century. Tiziano, better known as Titian, contributed to all the main areas of Renaissance painting; he created portraits, altarpieces, mythologies, and pastoral landscapes. He is known for his remarkable use of color and his painterly approach which highly influenced many 17th Century artists. His masterpieces have gained him international fame and today he is considered among the most famous Renaissance artists. Titian was born in Pieve di Cadore, north of Venice. Titian’s devotion and noticeable talent in drawing caused his father to send him to Venice at the age of ten, to learn to be a painter. His mentors were Sebastiano Zuccati, Gentile Bellini and later Giovanni Bellini; however, the painter who influenced his style the most was Giorgione. Giorgione, with whom Titian also collaborated, influenced him with his tonal approach to painting and his landscape style, which was atmospheric and evocative. In fact, Titian and Giorgione worked in such a similar manner that it has been troublesome to draw a line between them, especially for some of the pastoral landscapes. Titian’s appreciation of other artists work allowed him Landscape with Goat, ca. 1511. Pen and brown ink. This rare drawing by Titian is a fine example of his powerful and evocative drawing style. Giorgione was influential for the poetic treatment of the landscape.


to reproduce them with strict observance and excellence, leaving the impression that he had beaten the imitated original master in his own style.

Christ Carrying the Cross, c. 1508-1509. Oil on canvas. Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

Christ Carrying the Cross, was originally located in the church of San Rocco. For long there have been disputes about whether the masterpiece was attributed to Titian or Giorgione. However, today it is regarded as the work of Titian. It beautifully displays his early portrayal of figures and emotions. This narrative demonstrates Titian’s power to depict his figures with a convincing sense of anguished and impulsive life. He realistically conceived events and impressionistically illustrated landscapes. In Christ Carrying the Cross, Jesus is depicted with a cross on his shoulder on a dark background. There is a combination of pride, seriousness, sorrow and gravitas in Christ’s expression, despite the horrid event that inevitably follows. It is believed that the side figures, as well as the profile of the executioner, were inspired by some of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, which were part of a Venetian collection at the time. The painting portrays various elements of Titian’s style, such as the sfumato contouring of objects. In addition, the characters are strong, healthy and robust, and actively participate in the event. Titians early palette was very earthly, and generally low in saturation.


The Assumption of the Virgin was Titian’s first major public commission and it recognized him as the leading painter of Venice. It was painted for the high altar of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice and is still the largest altarpiece in the city. The painting shows three different events. In the lowest layer are the Apostles reaching up towards the sky, with the exception of St.Peter, who has his arms folded. The centre of their attention is the Virgin Mary standing on the cloud above them. Above her is God and around her we can see cherubs dancing and celebrating. Next to God is a cherub holding the crown of the Holy Glory. Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin was an interpretation of the theme of the event; it has numerous layers of meaning. Evidently, most of Titian’s early work portrays biblical, religious scenes. However, the Assumption of the Virgin displays a clear change in his style. First, his palette becomes more deep and intense; the colors are more highly saturated, there are more contrasts and a large Assumption of the Virgin, 1516–18. Oil on wood. Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice. variety of reds. The two Saints in red, together with the red of Virgin Mary’s dress, form an arrow that points up to God. In addition, Titian focuses more on forming a setting with depth and space, allowing the viewers to move around the painting; the intertwining figures


and the dramatic poses of the characters create visual movement. When Titian first started planning this altarpiece he envisioned it on a monumental scale. One of his aims was to compose a painting that could connect to its intended space. He succeeded in making the Virgin the center of attention from whichever angle one viewed the painting. For example, when walking up the aisle, the Virgin’s face is in the center of the numerous arches of the architectural frame and choir screen; he understood that people would approach the painting from different angles. When Titian composed this painting he took the architecture and space of the Church into consideration. The dramatic gestures and forms, as well as its geometric structure, establish this piece as an ideal example of classical High Renaissance art. In fact with this painting, Titian established classical High Renaissance art in Venice.

The Venus of Urbino was painted in 1538, around the time when Titian was the most highly regarded painter in southern Europe. The painting was commissioned by Guidobaldo Della Rovere, the Duke of Urbino, who had for long showed an interest in Titian’s work. Guidobaldo suffered financially, and could not pay for Titian’s works until 1538 when his financial problems were solved by the death of his father. Many believe that the nude female is the duke’s mistress. However, other critics say that she might have been Titian’s own mistress, for the woman appears in three other paintings of his. There is no evidence to support any of these theories, however, an Italian women of class was unlikely to pose nude. Her job was to bear children, hold house and stand by Venus of Urbino, c.1538. Oil on canvas. Uffizi, Florence.


her husband’s side at public events. Unlike men, women were not allowed to indulge in their sexuality. The bouquet of roses in the nude’s hand is a characteristic of Venus. Her curvaceous body reflects the ideals of beauty and erotic predisposition of the High Renaissance. Her high plucked forehead was not a Renaissance characteristic, but one of the Middle Ages. Most Italian women at the time had black hair; however, the most fashionable colour was blonde. Most Renaissance paintings of females have golden blonde hair. The female portrayed in Venus of Urbino, represents the ideal female beauty of the Renaissance. The ideal female of the Renaissance is solidly built. Shoulders were broad and small, round breasts were considered beautiful. The rounded belly is a symbol of fertility. Renaissance painters did not fear exaggerating the curves. In addition, Titian emphasized the nudity of the female by illustrating two fully dressed servants in the back. Titian also painted the kneeling women in an unusual posture. The interior and furniture are typical of the age and the marble floor is a sign of a wealthier home. The composition is bold and diagonal, highlighted by colourful brushstrokes. Unlike most of Titians past works, the subject matter is mythological; however, the painting can be interpreted in different ways due to all its symbols. Allegory of Prudence, c. 1565-1575. Oil on canvas. London, National Gallery.

The Allegory of Prudence demonstrates Titian’s later style at its best. It is rough and dark. A diplomat had asked Titian why his later work differed so much from his earlier work; Titian replied that he stopped trying to match other great artists, such as Raphael and Michelangelo. Instead of trying to capture beauty, he aimed in


making a mark with his new roughness of handling. The visible brushstrokes are a characteristic of Titian’s later style. When painting this, Titian was very concerned about legacy. On the left he has painted himself as an old man and in the centre he painted his son, Orazion, in the prime of his life and on the right is Titian’s young nephew, Marco; he is full of youthful enthusiasm. At a much later stage, Titian added the wolf, lion, and dog that appear below the portraits, adding a personal and mythological element to the master piece. The Flaying of Marsyas displays an evolution in Titian’s art. His later work was more narrative, based on stories and myths. This painting combines two tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Titian paints himself as King Midas witnessing the torture of Marsyas. In this painting, Titian criticizes the power of art, emphasizing the powerlessness of art as an instrument to change the world. This pessimism came towards the end of his life, though before the death of his son and negative change in his reputation. The Flaying of Marsyas, However, future artists found the beauty c. 1570-1575. Oil on canvas. in Titian late work. They saw his late State Museum, Kromeriz. work as the final exclamation point on a long career. Sadly, Titian died of the plague in 1576; however, due to the death of his son the same year, the family workshop fell prey to looters, which led to the end of the "school" of Titian.


Works Cited Hagen, Rainer, and Rose-Marie Hagen. What Great Paintings Say. Köln: Taschen, 2003. Print. "Art History » Blog Archive » Titian- Short Introduction." Art History. Web. 23 May 2011. "Artist Biography - Titian." Welcome to Artist Biographies. Web. 23 May 2011. "Titian: Biography of Titian." History, Mythology, Ben Franklin, Latin Translations, Earthquakes. Web. 23 May 2011. "Titian (ca. 1488 - 1576) | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Web. 20 May 2011. "Titian Timeline -" Discover, Record and Share History with Timelines. Web. 20 May 2011. "Venus Of Urbino." Oil Painting Reproductions - PaintYourLife. Web. 18 May 2011.

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Venus of Urbino, Titian (1538) 97

Humanities Honors 2011 Catalog of Gallery Projects

Mona Lisa (detail), Leonardo Da Vinci (1503-07)

Humanities Gallery Projects 2011  

Humanities Gallery Projects 2011; Students in the Humanities & Arts Division, ACS Athens

Humanities Gallery Projects 2011  

Humanities Gallery Projects 2011; Students in the Humanities & Arts Division, ACS Athens