What Was The Italian Renaissance? The Art History

What Was The Italian Renaissance? The Art History

The Middle Ages were a devastating period of plague, war and famine. Darkness and hardships had spread throughout Europe. In essence, Renaissance is a French word, rooted in the Italian word, rinascita which means rebirth.

So, the Italian Renaissance was the rebirth of Italian culture and society after nine centuries of dark times.

Commonly characterized as the Dark Ages, the Italian Renaissance was the path that guided people and society to more enlightened eras. Moreover, the educational pursuits toward enlightenment inspired people after ages of hard times.

What happened during the Italian Renaissance?

The Italian Renaissance, a transformational era, was a period that experienced the fall of the Roman Empire. During the 14th Century, the Italian Renaissance revolutionized Italian art, literature, philosophy, and architecture through the ideology referred to as Renaissance Humanism.

From the Italian Renaissance, the world's most famous paintings, sculptures, poems, and rhetorics were created and are still revered today in the art community.

What is the Italian Renaissance period known for?

A rebirth of humanity - an intellectual, cultural, and creative rebirth - Renaissance Humanism became the philosophical idealogy of man. More importantly, the Italian Renaissance era is best known for its "studia humanitatis" - the studies of grammar, history, philosophy of morality, poetry, and rhetoric.

The art history of the Italian Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance Art period was most innovatively influential for close to two centuries - the 15th and 16th. However, Italian Renaissance art actually lasted from the 14th to the 17th century.

The characteristics of Italian Renaissance art were natural and realistic. Italian Renaissance art offers a vivid depiction of the rebirth from the Dark Ages to brighter days of hope, happiness, and health.

Still, the art of the Italian Renaissance is acknowledged as an extraordinary era for the arts. To name a few, artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Titian have contributed to some of the world's most inspirational art.

Italian Renaissance artists

Michelangelo paintings

  • The infamous sculpture of David (1501-1504)
  • Adam and Eve (1512)
  • The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1512)

Leonardo da Vinci paintings

  • The Last Supper (1498)
  • Mona Lisa (1503)
  • Saint John the Baptist (1513)

Botticelli paintings

  • The Birth of Venus (1486)
  • Primavera (1482)
  • Mars and Venus (1483)

Titian paintings

  • Venus of Urbino (1534)
  • Sacred and Profane Love (1514)
  • Diana and Achtaeon (1559)

Italian renaissance art style

During the Italian Renaissance, there was a revival of interest in the classical arts of ancient Greece and Rome and an emphasis on humanism, the belief that the human condition was something to be studied and celebrated.

Throughout this time period, artists strived to produce pieces that were aesthetically pleasing and conceptually engaging. Important aspects of Italian Renaissance art include:


Painters of this time period also refined their grasp of perspective, a technique that helps convey the impression of depth and three dimensions on a flat surface.


The natural world was shown as faithfully as possible in Renaissance works of art due to a movement known as realism.

The artists aimed for accuracy in their renderings of the natural world, so they researched topics like human and plant anatomy and animal behavior.


Using mathematical principles, Renaissance artists attempted to produce precise proportions in their depictions of the human body.


Much of the art of the Renaissance was influenced by Classicism, which looked to the classical traditions of Greece and Rome. They tried to create works that matched the classical ideal of beauty and were frequently inspired by classical models.

The House of Medici & Italian Renaissance

After relocating from Tuscany during the 1200s, The Medicis began their bank and commerce business before becoming philanthropists to the arts of the Italian Renaissance. In 1397, The Medici Bank was established by Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici.

The Medici Bank was not only the most prosperous but a trusted institution throughout Europe. Giovanni's son, Cosimo de' Medici (1389-1464), became one of the greatest and first of three successive Medici monarchy rulers of Florence, Italy.

Cosimo, also known as Pater Patriae, which translates as Father of the Country, was an avid lover of the arts.

Cosimo commissioned an eclectic collection of art, supported some of the world's greatest artists, and created the first public library in Florence, Italy. The Medici Dynasty died with its last living member who was without an heir in 1737.

In conclusion

In terms of the development of Western art as a whole, the Italian Renaissance was a pivotal moment. Artists at the time were actively seeking to capture the beauty and intricacy of their surroundings, leading to an explosion of new ideas and techniques.

Art, architecture, and design from the Italian Renaissance are still prominent in modern society, and the movement's influence is felt around the globe.

Over five hundred years have passed since the Italian Renaissance, but its influence is still strongly felt in contemporary artistic creations.

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