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Early and northern renaissance

The Early Renaissance was founded in Florence, Italy in the 15th century. It probably flousrished in Florence because of its location, being that it is in the center of Italy. This period was called Renaissance because it means “rebirth” There was a revival of interest in the classical art, targeted especially towards the ideas of Ancient Greece and Rome. Artists during the period of they Early Renaissance tried to depict the human figure with elements like proportion, gestures and expressions, and realistic objects and clothing as well.

They also used other techniques like modeling, which gives volume to rounder elements, and perspective. These artists also tried to establish new methods to portray three dimensionality, giving forms a more real and life like quality. They did so by observing humans and animals so that they could gain a better understanding of this. Artists of the Early Renaissance tried to create consistent forms with the relevance to the world along with what people experienced on a daily basis. The content of paintings changed as they progressed into Early Renaissance.

The subject of art was used based on Roman history and and from myths, as it slowly pointed and leaned more towards religion. Even though artists had the vast freedom of developing and exploring of using new materials and techniques to apply to their works, many times they were only encouraged to create works with relevance to the Bible with the flexibility to choose their own sucject matter. Some of the main characteristics of the art period of the Early Renaissance include: harmony, proportion, realistic gestures andexpressions, rational posture, light, and color.

Although the Italian Renaissance first bloomed and blossomed in the city of Florence, it soon spread to the city and capital of Italy, Rome. Rome was always known for its high living and its fine arts. By the beginning of the 1500s, there seemed to be a rapid growth of artistic creations that totally changed the city. The period of art and in history known to be as the High Renaissance, saw the bang of creative geniuses and their masterful and talented use of techniques and ideas that were first used in Florence.

Many Europeans were drawn to this city, where the church offered enormous opportunities that could help artists achieve and become well known by a larger public. Due to the fact that the church had so much control and say over the Italian population and because of their contribution to art, many of the themes in art embodied religious themes. At this particular time, painting especially reached its highest point of technicality with magnificent artistic imagination and incredible heroic composition. Renaissance encompassed many Classical elements that extracted the details and showed the world as it really was.

Nonetheless, the artworks of the High Renaissance explored and seeked for a more broad and unified architectural outlook and pictorial represententation. There was an explosion of dramatic force in art forms that took in strong energy and created a more controlled equilibrium. Some of the main characteristics of artworks in the High Renaissance are: unity, balance, spatial harmony, light, colors, proportions, chiaroscuro (the use of lighting and shading effects), composition, and perspective. Artists of the Early Renaissance broke away from older styles and introduced new elements as well as techinques.

However, it was those artists in the High Renaissance who not only mastered, but perfected these tchniques. The most obvious differences between the Early and the High Renaissaince is the shape of figures and the use of chiaroscuro. Painters of the Early Renaissance strongly leaned towards using three dimensionality, but the new technique still did not look quite right. For instance, in Fra Angelico’s Lamentation Over Dead Christ, there is a sense of three dimensionality, but at the same time if the viewer looks at it longer, it does not make sense. The figures look almost flat.

Not to mention, the halos on the figures’ head has absolutely no sense of three dimensionality. Although he attempts to create the illusion, it does not quite add up together. In Michelagelo Buonarroti’s The Creation of Man, it is evident to see that Adam is not a flat figure. Michelangelo uses elements of chiaroscuro to create Adam as a full, voluptuous, and three dimensional figure. Michelangelo created many sculptures. Two singnificant sculptures, one created during the Early Renaissance and the other created during the High Renaissance, caught my attention.

Even though both sculptures were created by the same artists, it is interesting to see that they are both very similar, yet at the very same time, they show significant changes and differences. David was created in the Early Renaissance. He is shown as an ideal human standing in a contraposto position, which are traces of Ancient Roman and Greek sculptures. David encompasses features of a perfect human being such as strength, shown by the details of his muscles. Nonetheless, it seems that Michelangelo’s proportions are not quite right. His upper body, expecially his hands, seem larger.

It is later on that Michelangelo shows us how he has evolved as an artists by creating Moses in the High Renaissance. I personally think that this is one of Michelagelo’s most life like and realistic sculptures. Moses encompasses so much intricate details that bring the sculpture to life. Unlike David, Moses portrays enormous amount of strengh, energy, and movement. The sculpture itself tells its own story through details such as muscles bulging out, thich swelling veins, his strong legs, and his tangled up beard. Michelangelo also shows better representation of proportion in this later sculpture of Moses.

Another aspect that differentiates the two periods is the significant element of perspective. Comparing Masaccio’s The Tribute Money, painted in the Early Renaissance and Raphael’s School of Athens, which was painted in the High Renaissance, one can see how far artists have gone to perfect the technique of perspective. Although both paintings share similarities, showing use of perspective, Raphael’s painting is obviously a lot more intricate. In both paintings, a lot seems to be going on at the same time. In The Tribute Money, Masaccio demonstrates perspective using depth, as seen in the background, where the mountains are.

The illusion of space is also reinforced with linear perspective which lies right behind the group of people. In The School of Athens, Raphael is able to give the viewer a sense that although there is cluster of people in the painting, everything seems to be balnced beautifully. He uses symmetry, which balanced out his painting. He also uses the element of perspective in a much masterful way. The viewer is able to sense the illusion of depth by the sizes of the arches. The arch in the front of the room seems larger than the ones in the back, giving the viewer a perception that the setting of the painting is in a long hall.

Another genius element that he implements in his painting is a vanishing point between the two philosophers in the middle, drawing the viewers eyes especially to that point. All in all, Raphael’s masterpiece is able to portray very great use of important elements of the High Renaissance: balance, harmony, and unity. The artists of the Early Renaissance opened up many doors for many of the later artists in the High Renaissance. It is evident to see that during these periods of art history, beautiful masterpieces were created by genius artists.

Although these two art periods share many characteristics, there are also many differences among them. The famous genius of realism in Northern Europe during the Renaissance was Jan van Eyck, who is a Flemish artist who was extremely successful in the area of using precise detailing and vivid lively colors. Van Eyck’s artwork and masterpieces were created in oil, usually on wood. As a painting technique, oil was used to better achieve exquisite effects of elements like light and color, rather than the method of using frescoes, which was used the Florentines at the time.

Van Eyck succeeded as an artist who created portrays for people like nobles and merchants. Much like the Italians, most of the time he would integrate the faces of his patrons in the painting, putting them into scenes of religious significance. In the year of 1434, van Eyck was commissioned to create a painting for a couple. This famous painting is known as Arnolfini and His Bride. It is painted with tempera and oil on a panel. Hence the title of the painting, this is very much a representational painting that represents the wedding of this couple.

Actually, it is more like a portrait that serves as a pictorial wedding certificate. Not only does it show the couple, but it also shows great details of the matrimony, as well as symbols that implicate fertility and fidelity. Van Eyck’s incredible work of art, Arnolfini and His Bride, in its own little way can be compared to as new and revolutionary as the works of the Italian Renaissance artists Donatello and Masaccio. A quiet and plain corner of the physical real world now has the ability to be placed onto a panel, as if it were pure magic.

By using various visual elements in his painting, Van Eyck is able to tell the audience of not only what is going on in the painting, but what is going on in society at the time. He cleverly beautifies the nature of Arnolfini and His Bride by painting each an every detail and object, making it stand out and taking on its own life. One can see the great texture and detail on the clothing of the couple, which creates so much realism, bringing the figures to life. It is amzing how he uses chiaroscuro on the clothing to show the grooves and the folds.

Using the element of light, van Eyck is able to portray a main source of light coming in through the window panel shown on the left side, which reflects off of certain surfaces and objects. Van Eyck also makes use of complementary colors (red and green). Due to the fact that these two colors are opposite to each other, they seem to appear exceptionally lively when they are used together. He paints the bride in a green outfit and paints the furniture and the bed red. By placing the two colors side by side, he is able to make each color appear louder and more noticeable.

Although the painting does not show a lot of motion going on, it still captures the viewer’s attention. It is clear to see that there is a certain balance, harmony, and unity that is present in the painting. The first thing the viewer would probably look at is right at the center of the painting. First, the hands of the couple, then, slowly moving up, the peculiar mirror that is placed on the back wall. I think that the placement of the mirror and the chandelier shown right above it, along with the center of the painting where the couple’s hands are together, is quite significant.

By doing this, is seems that van Eyck has an imaginary line in the center of the painting. If the viewer really pays attention, there is a very interesting thing that van Eyck has done to his painting. If you cover up one side of the painting (bride’s side), the half where Arnolfini is standing is painted with very dark colors and hue, mainly black and brown. If you do the exact opposite and cover the side where Arnolfini is standing, you will be able to see very bright, brilliant, and lively colors such as green, red, white, and a little bit of blue on the bride’s sleeve.

Van Eyck painted a masterpiece with a surface that almost seems like it is reflective. The intensity of the colors allow for the viewers to capture the essence of realism and to be able to enter into Arnolfini’s world, even if it was for one second. The painter also used exquisite varieties of of lighting and shading to increase the illusion of three dimensionality. By using different visual elements in Arnolfini and His Bride, Van Eyck is able to offer the viewers a great amount of insight pf van Eyck’s extraordinary skills and the Flemish life in the fifteenth century.

From the title of the painting, Arnolfini and His Bride, I think that it is pretty safe to say that the painting was some form of wedding certificate so show the marriage of this couple, Giovanni Arnolfini and his bride Giovanna Cenami. Van Eyck ingeniuously surrounds the Italian merchant and his young bride with symbols that the depict their marriage. Each symbol is painted in a very precise and detailed manner than stuns viewers. Almost every single little detail in the painting has a meaning and is interepreted as a symbol. In other words, van Eyck captures countless iconographic characteristics in his painiting.

This means that he uses a series of symbols that have a certain or specific meaning behind it. Each and every symbol serves as a purpose to tell or add to the story. How the couple is placed in the painting is very significant. The bride is standing by the bed, which could represent the role of caretaking. Arnolfini is placed near the window panel, which could represent his role in the outside physical world. While Arnolfini seems to be looking at the viewer, his bride is looking at her husband almost in a very obedient manner. I think that this was used to depict gender roles.

The fruits, oranges, could probably represent fertility or maybe even wealth and prosperity probably because only the wealthy could afford these kinds of fruits. The clogs by Arnolfini’s feet could symbolize a certain kind of respect for the wedding ceremony that was going on and it could also show that the event happened on a holy ground. Like in many other paintings, when a dog is present, it probably refers to and depicts fidelity. I think the reason van Eyck chose green for the bride’s dress is to sybolize hope, probably of becoming a good wife and of becoming a good mother someday. The little veil-like cap on her head means purity.

Behind the couple, the furniture, the bed and the opened curtains are of a bright red color. This could serve as a reference to the union of the marriage, passion and love, and the consummation of the marriage. On the bedposts is a very tiny statue of St. Margaret, which is the saint of childbirth. On the statue, there is also a little brush that is hanging from it, that could mean cleanliness, or domestic work and care. On the other side is a rosary that is hanging, which shows faith and belief in Christianity. Above the Arnolfini’s, there is a single lit candle that is placed on a chandelier with seven branches.

This alludes to the presence of God in the room. It also could have easily been that this was a Flemish tradition, where a candle is exchanged during a holy matrimony. I think that the mirror serves many purposes in this painting. There is a mirror in the middle of the room that serves as a sense of perspective in the small room and it also serves as a vanishing point. The mirror is painted with so much precision and detail that it is completely breath-taking. There are ten very small medallions that portray the scenes from the Christ’s last hours, the Passion of the Christ.

However, even more breath-taking is the unbelievable reflection in the mirror. Van Eyck places himself present as a witness in the ceremony along with another person. He also signs the painting (right above the mirror) “Johannes de Eyck fuit hic. 1434. ” (which means “Jan van Eyck was here. 1434”). Seeing how the mirror is in a convex shape, I think that this suggests that it is the all-seeing eye of God that is present and there to watch the wedding. I personally think that Jan van Eyck is one of the most talented and influential artists of his time.

His use of lively colors and intricate sybolism intrigues me very much as a viewer. I think that van Eyck is able to suck the viewer into the room and into the painting with his magnificent talent. The whole painting, from top to bottom and left to right is so significant, in a way that it comes to life and is able to tell its own story. I think what makes his such a great artist and what distinguishes him from other artists in history is his pecision in details. It is truly amazing. His use of visual elements such as perspective, harmony, unity, balance, light, space, etc. makes the painting a whole.

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