Italian Renaissance
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Italian Renaissance
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Italian Renaissance
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Early Renaissance Art

Feast of Herod by Gozzoli, Early Renaissance Artist

  The Feast of Herod
and Beheading of St. John the Baptist

ca. 1462, by Benozzo Gozzoli
 tempera on panel
Samual H. Kress Collection

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The Early Renaissance time period in art falls between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the High Renaissance. Early Renaissance art first developed in the city of Florence in Central Italy in the fourteenth century. Planting seeds of the Early Renaissance were prominent Trecento literary figures, the humanist poets Dante and Petrarch. Petrarch believed that the culture of the Roman Empire was the apex of human achievement, and Dante's contribution was his Divine Comedy, offering a final reconciliation between Aristotelian philosophy and Christianity. The Early Renaissance melding of philosophy and Christian thought would be beautifully illustrated during the High Renaissance by Raphael Sanzio in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura.

Early Renaissance painting, sculpture, and literature in Italy were also influenced by an influx of scholars who migrated to Rome following the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The arrival of these scholars generated new interest in ancient Greek and Roman learning with a re-examination of ancient Greek and Roman texts. This humanist learning and study of the antique was reflected in Early Renaissance art in painting, sculpture and literature. Early Renaissance artists of the 15th century began once again to study nature to gain an understanding of concepts like perspective and anatomy, knowledge lost since antiquity. The stylized works of Byzantine artists was replaced in the Early Renaissance by a return to naturalism. These extraordinary achievements were reflected in the art and architecture of the Early Renaissance.

Prominent Early Renaissance artists were people such as Masaccio, Donatello, Piero della Francesca, Perugino, Verrocchio, and Botticelli

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

For more information on Italian Renaissance Art and book recommendations, click here.
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    Domenico Ghirlandaio was a popular painter of the Italian Renaissance, but his main claim to fame was his pupil Michelangelo Buonarroti.
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    Early Italian Renaissance artist Paolo Uccello joined the ranks of groundbreakers like Brunelleschi, Masaccio, and Ghiberti in his exploration of the new device of perspective.
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    Perugino was born in Perugia, Umbria, but like other artists of the time, he gravitated to Florence in the mid-1470's drawn by the artistic climate.
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    The life and work of Sandro Botticelli were seldom mentioned for several centuries following the end of the Italian Renaissance.
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