Italy's Renaissance 05: Florence Painting cover

Italy's Renaissance 05: Florence Painting

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Fifteenth-century Florence was the birthplace of Renaissance painting, which moved away from the comparative flatness and stylized nature of Gothic art to focus on accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes. Florentine painting received a new lease of life in the early fifteenth century, when the use of perspective was formalized by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and adopted by painters as an artistic technique. This development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts.
Two quiz questions included!





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Italy's Renaissance 05: Florence Painting

Painting

Renaissance painting was born in fifteenth-century Florence and moved away from the flatness of Gothic painting to focus on naturalism.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the important 15th century Florentine artists and the techniques they used

Terms

quattrocento The 1400s, the fifteenth-century Renaissance Italian period.

vanishing point The point in a perspective drawing at which parallel lines receding from an observer seem to converge.

San Giovenale Triptych

Public Domain

San Giovenale Triptych

The San Giovenale Triptych or Cascia Altarpiece is a 1422 painting by Italian Renaissance artist Masaccio, housed in a museum behind the church of Cascia di Reggello, in the Roman Pieve of San Pietro di Cascia near Florence, Italy

Key Points

1) Florentine painting received a new lease of life in the early fifteenth century, when the use of perspective was formalized by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and adopted by painters as an artistic technique.

2) Other important techniques developed in Florence during the first half of the fifteenth century include the use of realistic proportions, foreshortening, sfumato, and chiaroscuro.

3)The artist most widely credited with first popularizing these techniques in fifteenth-century Florence is Masaccio (1401-1428), the first great painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance.

4) Masaccio was deeply influenced both by Giotto's earlier innovations in solidity of form and naturalism and Brunelleschi's formalized use of perspective in architecture and sculpture, and moved away from the international Gothic style to a more realistic mode.

5) Masaccio is best known for his frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in which he employed techniques of linear perspective, such as the vanishing point for the first time, and had a profound influence on other artists despite the brevity of his career.

The Use of Perspective

Fifteenth-century Florence was the birthplace of Renaissance painting, which moved away from the comparative flatness and stylized nature of Gothic art to focus on accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes.

While Giotto is often referred to as the herald of the Renaissance, his realism, three-dimensional figures, and humanist interest in expressing the individual personality, rather than iconic images proved to be a fleeting passion, as Italian painting retreated to conservative late Gothic conventions after his death.

However, Florentine painting received a new lease of life in the early fifteenth century, when the use of perspective was formalized by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and adopted by painters as an artistic technique. This development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts.

The Battle of San Romano

Public Domain

The Battle of San Romano

The Battle of San Romano is a set of three paintings by the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello (1397–1475).

They are significant as revealing the development of linear perspective in early Italian Renaissance painting.

New Important Techniques

Many other important techniques commonly associated with Renaissance painting developed in Florence during the first half of the fifteenth century, including the use of realistic proportions, foreshortening, or the artistic effect of shortening lines in a drawing to create the illusion of depth, sfumato, or the blurring of sharp outlines by subtle and gradual blending to give the illusion of three-dimensionality and chiaroscuro or the contrast between light and dark to convey a sense of depth.

The artist most widely credited with first popularizing these techniques in fifteenth-century Florence is Masaccio (1401-1428), the first great painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance.

Masaccio

Masaccio was deeply influenced both by Giotto's earlier innovations in solidity of form and naturalism and Brunelleschi's formalized use of perspective in architecture and sculpture, and moved away from the International Gothic style to a more realistic mode.

Masaccio is best known for his frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in which he employed techniques of linear perspective, such as the vanishing point for the first time, and had a profound influence on other artists despite the brevity of his career.

Masaccio was friends with Brunelleschi and the sculptor Donatello, and collaborated frequently with the older and already renowned artist Masolino da Panicale (1383/4 - 1436) who traveled with him to Rome in 1423.

The Tribute Money by Masaccio

Public Domain

The Tribute Money by Masaccio

The Tribute Money is one of Masaccio's most famous frescoes from the Brancacci Chapel.

Jesus and his apostles are depicted as as neo-classical archetypes. The shadows of the figures fall away from the chapel window, as if the figures are lit by it; this is an added stroke of verisimilitude and further tribute to Masaccio's innovative genius.

The Story of Human Sin and Redemption

From this point onwards, he eschewed the Byzantine and Gothic styles altogether, adopting traces of influence from ancient Greek and Roman art instead.

These are evident in the cycle of frescoes he executed alongside Masolino for the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. The two artists started working on the chapel in 1425, but their work was only completed by Filippo Lippi in the 1480s. The frescoes in their entirety represent the story of human sin and redemption from the fall of Adam and Eve to the works of St. Peter.

Giotto's Influence

Giotto's influence is evident in Masaccio's frescoes, particularly in the weight and solidity of his figures and the vividness of their expressions.

Unlike Giotto, Masaccio utilized linear and atmospheric perspective, and made even greater use of directional light and the chiaroscuro technique, enabling him to create even more convincingly lifelike paintings than his predecessor. His style and techniques became profoundly influential after his death and were imitated and elaborated by his successors.

Question 1

Which of the following was a technique introduced in 15th century Florentine art?

A) All of these answers

B) use of realistic proportions

C) chiaroscuro

D) foreshortening

Question 2

Who is credited with inventing linear perspective?

A) Brunelleschi

B) Ghiberti

C) Masaccio

D) Donatello

Answers

Question 1: A All of these answers

Question 2: A Brunelleschi

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