Glorification of the Individual Renaissance Art
by Annie Saxena on Feb 09, 2023
Visual art was popular in Renaissance Italy because it was seen as a medium of communication with social, spiritual and political values. According to historians, art between 1350 and 1550 was transformed through a return to nature, or what is known as ‘Humanism.’
Humanism as a cultural movement had a great impact in creating interest in art, architecture and music. The aim of humanism was to perfect all forms of art and scholarship. The emancipation of man and the focus on dignity of men created an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and individual expression. The recovery of secular philosophy not only led to individualism but promoted new trends and styles in the sphere of art. The architects, sculptors and painters broke away from the Byzantine Gothic patterns and indulged in a sweeping and independent expression.
Art in this period was scientifically and critically analyzed. The new ideas were particularly understood and appreciated by the educated humanists and the elite of the city-states. Different disciplines such as the ‘universal man’ of humanist’s philology, technique of art and scientific theory, anatomy, the use of geometry to express a sense of proportion became the hallmark of the Renaissance period.
Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as the most versatile genius who personified in himself the diverse qualities of a painter, architect, engineer, musician, mathematician and hydraulic. His work was based on an intensive study of human anatomy and large scale experiments that included dissection of the human body.
His love for nature was close to worship. Among his masterpieces were the Virgin of the Rocks, the Last Supper and Mona Lisa. His creations depicted extraordinary skill and his understanding of science and geometry. In The Last Supper, the painting concerning the betrayal of Jesus Christ, every character reveals an individual ambition. The treatment of main and secondary characters, the sense of composition and the use of light and shade are the hallmarks of Da Vinci’s art.
Another great figure was Michelangelo. He too was a multifaceted genius – a painter, sculptor, architect and poet. Michelangelo beautifully expressed the humanist fascination for man’s potential. He depicted human figures, particularly the male as strong and powerful. His greatest achievement was the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It depicted a scene from the Book of Genesis, presenting a concentration of paintings at a single location. While maintaining his commitment to the Greek style, he retained the principles of harmony, solidarity and dignity. His famous art piece in the form of the Last Judgment was a fresco on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
These great masters represented concrete achievements through the discovery of scientific perspective and the knowledge of anatomy to create beautiful human forms. One of the most notable feats was the creation of nude human forms because humanists considered man to be the greatest and most beautiful creation of God. And it was this belief of theirs that laid the groundwork for centuries of artists to express their individuality.