Italian Renaissance
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Italian Renaissance
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Italian Renaissance
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Italian Renaissance Art

Angel Musician, Melozzo da Forli, Italian Renaissance Art

Angel Musician
(detail of fresco)
Melozzo da Forli, ca. 1480
Pinacoteca, Vatican, Rome

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The rise of Italian Renaissance art can be traced generally from its beginnings toward the end of the thirteenth century with the work of Florentine artist Giotto di Bondone. Italian Renaissance art ended early in the sixteenth century with the death of Raphael Sanzio, Italian Renaissance artist of the High Renaissance. While art was not dead during the Middle Ages, neither did it have the naturalism that was soon to be seen with the rise of Italian Renaissance art. The phrase "Renaissance" in “Italian Renaissance Art” means simply “rebirth.” Vital to the development of Italian Renaissance Art was the rise of wealthy banking and merchant classes, who possessed vast financial resources to patronize the arts.

The Roman Church had moved to Avignon, France in 1309. Therefore, Giotto like other aspiring Italian Renaissance artists of his time received no assistance from the Italian papacy during his career, but the papacy would soon play an important role in the lives of Renaissance artists. Giotto's commissions came from wealthy Italian merchants. While Giotto started the movement toward naturalism in Italian Renaissance art, his advancements would not be further explored until the papacy returned to Rome in 1378.

With the return of the papacy to Rome, so commerce returned and with it a new flurry of construction began; that new construction provided work for artists. Further, new construction required excavation, and this produced a wealth of "new" antique artifacts providing a wealth of source material for Italian Renaissance artists like Michelangelo. All of these factors within the culture of the elite created an atmosphere which was conducive to the development of Italian Renaissance art.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian


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