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The foundation of the family’s power and its art patronage was the Medici bank, which financed the trade of Florentine wool and silk merchants into an international scale. The Medici banking family also collected papal taxes abroad and even influenced the appointments of new bishops and popes.
Two themes appear often in his work:A very sad young girl detached from what is going on around her.The roles male and females played in society.
Early Renaissance in 15th c. Italy
• Intellectuals in 15th c. Italy thought of
themselves as living in a NEW AGE.
• Believed they could improve their culture
by reviving the best features of
antiquity…Greek and Roman culture.
• Rebirth of classical learning, literature and
• Study of texts from Greece and Rome for
moral content and style (medieval
university—prized theology) but
Renaissance humanism aimed for
practical use—for lawyers, bureaucrats,
politicians, diplomats and merchants
• Humanists’ analytical approach and
empirical observations inspired new
thinking in many fields
15th c. Republic of Florence (ala Roman Republic)
• Signoria—governing council—officials
elected from members of the guilds and
• Milan threatened to invade in
1401…Florence was able to defy Milan…a
comparison was made between Athens
defeat of the Persians…praised for piety
and devotion…Renaissance humanists
wished to reconcile the lessons of antiquity
with their Christian faith.
Across the piazza from
the Florence Cathedral
facade was the
baptistery. Every child
born in Florence
was baptized into the
Church there. It was
decided that the
baptistery needed new
The city fathers of
Florence held a
competition to solicit
plans for the dome's
completion and for door
designs in bronze.
Florence Baptistery Competition
Guild-sponsored competition in 1401 east doors of the city’s
Ghiberti. Sacrifice of Isaac
competition panel for east
doors, baptistery of Florence
Brunelleschi. Sacrifice of Isaac.
Competition panel for east
doors, baptistery of Florence.
• After losing the competition…Rome with
• Studied ancient structures
• Discovered linear perspective
• Won competition for dome of Florence
cathedral—wool merchants guild
The Cathedral of Florence was begun in 1298. Santa Maria del Fiore
(our Lady of the Flower, the lily was a symbol of Florence) was the
third cathedral built on the site.
Brunelleschi submitted the winning plan for the dome in 1420. He combined his
knowledge of Roman engineering principles with innovative building techniques
to construct a 100’ dome w/o any visible means of support.
Brunelleschi, dome of Florence
• Brunelleschi placed
dome over 140’
designing a thin
double shell that
was ogival (pointed
arch) in section.
• The dome’s weight
is borne by 8
marble ribs that
span the dome
form base to
lantern. These ribs
by 16 concealed
ribs radiating from
Brunesslechi, Hospital of the Innocents, 1421…1st Ren. bldg.
Patron: Silk Merchants Guild and Goldsmiths
The commission enabled him to apply the principles of:
balance, harmony and proportion
he discovered during his study of ancient Roman buildings.
Arcade—series of columns spanned by arches
Pedimented windows—triangular treatment
balance, harmony and proportion
Andrea della Robbia - Glazed terra-cotta reliefs of
Interior of the church
Santo Spirito, Florence
Mathematical ratios and
graceful rhythm embody the
new Renaissance style of
applied these principles to
the interior of Santo Spirito.
Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence, begun after 144 (Brunelleschi).
• Attributed to
• Michelozzo di Bartolomeo,
• Palazzo Medici-Riccardi,
Florence, begun 1446
Or San Michele, Florence (early 14th c.)
1406—dictum to fill niches
1414—K. Ladislaus, Naples threatened Florence
Nanni di Banco. Four Saints.
Or San Michele, Florence,
Four martyred sculptors who
refused and order from the
Roman emperor Diocletian to
carve a pagan deity.
Early example of Renaissance
artists’ attempt to liberate statuary
form its architectural setting.
Patron: Wood and Stone Carvers
Donatello, St Mark, 1411, Marble, 7’9”
As Giotto had succeeded
his master Cimabue, so
Ghiberti produced a student
whose fame exceeded his
Donatello was the great
master of the Early
His skills as a sculptor were
almost a century later. He
commissions for the city of
His St. Mark was
commissioned by the Linen
S. George. Or San Michele.
Guild of Armorers’ and Swordmakers’
Continues Gothic tradition (depicting
warrior saints on church facades) but here
it plays a civic role…ready to defend
Two years later Donatello was commissioned to install this relief…marks
a turning point in Renaissance sculpture…painterly
approach…atmospheric effect…a window onto an infinite vista.
Donatello. Feast of Herod, baptismal font of the Siena Cathedral. c.1425
Reflects Brunelleschi’s linear perspective and recalls his architecture—
rounded arches and fluted columns and pilasters.
(military leader of
on marble plinth
Piazza del Santo,
Erasmo da Narni (nicknamed Gattamelata)
Venice honored him for his military successes.
Donatello recalled the Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius
Donatello’s horse is so large that the rider must dominate by
force of person rather than size.
• Donatello spent most of his career in
Florence and worked for important families
like the Medici.
GATES OF PARADISE,
BAPTISTRY OF SAN GIOVANNI,
Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378-1455),
one of the most important early
Renaissance sculptors of
Florence; his work and writings
formed the basis for much of the
style and aims of the later High
The Medici recognized Donatello’s great talent and
commissioned him to sculpt a statue of David.
The Florentines identified with David. As David had
conquered Goliath, so had Florence overcome the
boastful Duke of Milan when he attempted to conquer
their city in 1402.
Donatello’s David marked a milestone in Early
He chose to portray David as a nude youth…the first
freestanding, life-size nude statue cast since antiquity.
The Medici installed David in the courtyard of their
Verrocchio. David. C.1465-1470.
One of the most important sculptors in
the 2nd half of the century…reaffirms
the Medici family’s identification with
His David contrasts strongly in its
narrative realism with the quiet
classicism of Donatellos’s…he knew
the psychology of brash young men.
Another Medici appropriation of civic imagery can be seen in a small table
bronze of Hercules and Anteus made for the Medici by Antonio del
Pollaiuolo (1433-98). Hercules had been represented on the state seal of
Florence since the end of the thirteenth century—"to signify that Hercules,
who was a giant, overcame all tyrants and evil lords as the Florentines have
Antonio del Pollaiuolo.
Hercules and Antaeus.
C.1475 bronze, 18”
preference…stress and strain of
human figure in violent action.
The Medici desired to associate
their family with Florence’s
symbolic heroes. They identified
with the Greek hero and even
placed his image on their state
Antaeus…giant and son of Earth
ANDREA EL VERROCCHIO.
The condottiere and his horse
have become the embodiment
of will power, and a purposeful
and ruthless machine.
Andrea del Verrocchio.
Or San Michele.
MASSACCIO. TRINITY WITH
THE VIRGIN, SAINT JOHN THE
DONORS, fresco, 1425- 27/28
Sta. Maria Novella, Florence
• Realism based on
• Application of
• Where is the
• Holy Trinity provides a vivid example of a
pyramid or triangular composition. Rather
than placing his figures along a horizontal
line, Masaccio linked them in a series of
• First used by Masaccio, the pyramid
configuration became one of the hallmarks
of Renaissance art.
INTERIOR OF THE BRANCACCI CHAPEL. Sta. Maria del Carmine, Florence
TRIBUTE MONEY, fresco
Masaccio’s figures represent a revolutionary step in Western art—solid three-
dimensional figures, all standing in balanced contrapposto. A constant light
source creates a realistic blend of light and shade. This chiaroscuro give each
figure the illusion of volume.
THE EXPULSION FROM PARADISE,
The colors in true fresco (boun fresco) are
much paler than those in oil painting.
THE EXPULSION FROM PARADISE, fresco
Masaccio based his Eve on this ancient statue of the Modest Venus
• The Church of San Marco
• Fra Angelico, Annunciation.
In the 1440's, a Dominican Friar, Fra Angelico painted the interior of the
Monastery San Marco in Florence with frescoes. He decorated each of his
fellow monks' cells with a holy image for their contemplation (the
Dominicans were committed to work and prayer). At the top of the stairs
leading to their quarters he painted this large-scale Annunciation.
The works of Fran Angelico reveal elements of both Gothic and Renaissance.
Lacks symbolic objects…no book
Figures are painted shallowly, harking back to pre-Renaissance
The whole scene is a masterpiece of quiet understatement.
ANDREA DEL CASTANGO. LAST SUPPER, fresco, 1447
Trompe l’oeil effect is evident in the illusion of the room cut into the wall.
Castango was influenced by Masaccio and Donatello.
Castango was to influence later artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Madonna and Child (1440-1445)
Filippo Lippi, (1406 – 1469)
National Gallery of Art, Washington,
Paolo Uccello. Battle of San Romano. C.1455 tempera on wood
• During the second half of the 15th century, the
republic of Florence flourished under the
leadership of Lorenzo de’ Medici, grandson of
• Lorenzo established the Platonic Academy of
Philosophy, consisting of scholars, poets, and
artists. This intimate circle included Botticelli.
• Botticelli was apprentice under Pollaiuolo. He
was known of his grace and rhythm.
• Born in Florence
• Apprenticed at age 14 to a goldsmith
• Apprenticed in 1462 to Fra Filippo Lippi
Botticelli lived at the time of the city’s
greatest intellectual and artist
flowering, which coincides with the
reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Medici Family, a very powerful and
political dynasty which not only ruled
Florence but also produced four
• Botticelli’s style evolved into one that was
very distinct. His portraits seemed to have a
melancholy or sad characteristic. He
stressed line and detail…to bring his
• He included Neo-Platonism in his work.
This meant that he would bring together in
one painting ideas that belong to both
Christianity and pagan ideas which may
have included mythology.
• He was invited to Rome to take part in the
painting of the Sistine Chapel
SANDRO BOTTICELLI. PRIMAVERA, 1482, tempera
Neo-platonism was a court style, reflecting the advanced ideas of a small group of
well-educated and sophisticated people. The audience was elite.
Based on the teachings of Plato, they believed that the pagan gods could be reconciled
with Christian values. The gods and goddesses were given spiritual qualities that made
them representatives of Christian virtues like—innocence, love, spiritual and intellectual
as well as physical beauty.
Patron: cousin of Lorenzo Medici, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco. Painted as a
celebration of his marriage in 1482.
Celebrates the arrival of spring—filled with mythological symbolism.
Venus (love) in orange grove;
Left—Flora (flowers/spring); Chloris (pursued by Zephyrus (wind). Based on a
poem by Ovid.
Right—Three Grace (companions of love); Mercury (messenger) inspects and
protects grove from intruders.
Note the emotion on the face
of Chloris as she begins her
transformation into Flora,
Goddess of Flowers
In this allegory of
life, beauty and
knowledge united by
love, Botticelli catches
the freshness of an early
spring morning, with pale
light shining through the
trees, already laden with
their golden fruit; oranges
or the mythical golden
apples of the Hesperides
(nymphs of the evening)?
SANDRO BOTTICELLI. THE BIRTH OF VENUS, 1484- 86, tempera
For the first time in a 1000 years, we see a painted a life-size female nude.
She is Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, whom the Romans
called Venus. Arisen from the waves and born by the wind Zephyrus, she glides
to shore on a shell. The shell is a symbol of baptism and rebirth.
• On Venus' right is Zephyrus, God of Winds, he
carries with him the gentle breeze Aura and
together they blow the Goddess of Love ashore.
The Horae, Goddess of the Seasons, waits to
receive Venus and spreads out a flower covered
robe in readiness for the Love Goddess' arrival.
Botticelli, Simonetta Vespucci
Model for Venus is though to be
Simone Cattaneo de Vespucci, a
favorite of the Medici Court
Aura and Venus based on Simonetta who died young and Botticello asked to be
buried at her feet.
Like Masaccio Venus is based on this antique statue.
But unlike Masaccio, Botticelli kept the pagan subject.
However, this is a complex allegory. Venus is symbolic of the Neo-Platonic way of
looking at beauty. Beauty as an idea—conceived in the mind. Beauty as divine beauty.
Just as we cannot have direct experience with the divine connection to God. We
cannot have direct experience with divine beauty.
In Neo-Platonic thought, the Biblical character Eve was identified with Venus.
Botticelli divieates from Renaissance characteristics.
Masaccio (like Giotto) natural weighted bodies, atmospheric perspective
Botticelli—stylized, elongated and weightless, no atmospheric perspective
Portrait d'un vieillard et d'un
jeune garçon (Vers 1490)
Fra Girolamo Savonarola
• Savonarola becomes Prior of
the Dominican monastery of
San Marco in Florence.
• He sparks a renaissance of
religious fervor and preaches
against the corruption of the
Papacy and enunciates a
personal responsibility for the
care of ones soul.
• This runs counter to Church
policy of having to buy
forgiveness from sin from the
• He sees Revelations being
acted out in the political events
leading up to the end of the
Mantegna. S. James Led
to Martyrdom. Ovetari
Chapel, Ch. Of the
Eremitani, Padua, fresco
Rome and the Papal States
Perugino. Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to S. Peter. Sistine
Chapel, Vatican, 1481-83. fresco (patron Pope Sixtus IV)
Luca Signorelli. Damned Cast into Hell.
Orvieto Cathedral, Orvieto, Italy, 1499-1504. fresco
patron Pope Alexander VI
Evokes the fiery passion of the sermons of Savonarola
Major art center in the last quarter
of the 15th c.
Gateway to the Orient
Venetians saw themselves as
superior to Rome and Florence
Their Byzantine heritage
encouraged an art of rich patterned
surfaces emphasizing light and
Venetians were the first Italians to
use oils for painting on both wood
panel and canvas.
Giovanni Bellini 1430-1516
• Revolutionized Venetian painting, moving
it towards a more sensuous and coloristic
• Slow-drying oil paint…created deep, rich
tints and detailed shadings.
• Sumptuous color…fluent atmospheric
landscapes had a great influence on
Venetian painting, esp. Giorgione and
• He brought painting to a new degree of
• He is remembered for the realistic
landscapes and the harmony of light, color
St. Francis in the Desert, c.1489, tempera and oil on poplar panel
• This monumental portrays the
medieval saint who renounced
earthly riches to embrace a life of
poverty, humility, simplicity, and
prayer. Francis founded the
mendicant religious order still
flourishing today. In 1224 he was
honored with the stigmata, the
imprint of the five wounds of
Christ's Crucifixion. Bellini's figure
appears to be in a state of mystical
transport. He strides barefoot from
his simple shelter into a rock-strewn
wilderness; with hands extended
and lips parted, he is transfigured
by a supernatural radiance that
emanates from the clouds at the
upper-left corner of the scene.
On to High Renaissance
Leonardo and Michelangelo