Italy's Renaissance 06: Painting Post-Masaccio cover

Italy's Renaissance 06: Painting Post-Masaccio

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Masaccio is widely regarded as the first Renaissance painter of the Italian Quattrocento, and despite the brevity of his career, had the most profound influence on his successors. Florentine painting greatly increased in range and richness after Masaccio's death, and fifteenth-century artists adopted and built on the style and techniques that he had introduced to Italian painting, most notably the drive towards naturalism, and the use of linear perspective, sfumato, and chiaroscuro. Artists also began to focus even more on proportional and anatomically accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes.
This NoteStream includes two quiz questions at the end so you can show-off your new knowledge!





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Italy's Renaissance 06: Painting Post-Masaccio

Painting: Post-Masaccio

Learning Objective

Discuss the contribution of Masaccio to Renaissance art and his influence on painters of the Florentine Quattrocento

Key Points

1) Florentine painting greatly increased in range and richness after Masaccio's death, and fifteenth-century artists adopted his drive towards naturalism and his use of linear perspective, as well as the sfumato and chiaroscuro techniques.

2) The most famous Florentine Quattrocento painters of the post-Masaccio period were Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, and Filippo Lippi, who dedicated themselves to the study of light and shadow and perspective as their paramount concern.

3) Piero della Francesca studied light and linear perspective from a scientific point of view and wrote treatises about his findings.

4) Paolo Uccello used foreshortening to give his work depth and also made use of light, color, and contrast to add to the drama of his painting.

Legend of the True Cross

Image Public Domain

Legend of the True Cross

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the True Cross - the Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon, Detail. (c. 1452-66, Fresco, San Francesco, Arezzo, Italy

Key Terms

chiaroscuro An artistic technique popularized during the Renaissance, referring to the use of exaggerated light contrasts in order to create the illusion of volume.

sfumato In painting, the application of subtle layers of translucent paint so that there is no visible transition between colors, tones, and often objects.

humanism Specifically, a cultural and intellectual movement in fourteenth to sixteenth century Europe characterized by attention to classical culture and a promotion of vernacular texts, notably during the Renaissance.

Proportion and Accuracy

Masaccio is widely regarded as the first Renaissance painter of the Italian Quattrocento, and despite the brevity of his career, had the most profound influence on his successors.

Florentine painting greatly increased in range and richness after Masaccio's death, and fifteenth-century artists adopted and built on the style and techniques that he had introduced to Italian painting, most notably the drive towards naturalism, and the use of linear perspective, sfumato, and chiaroscuro.

Artists also began to focus even more on proportional and anatomically accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes.

The Battle of San Romano

Public Domain Image

The Battle of San Romano

In the foreground, broken lances and a dead soldier are carefully aligned, so as to create an impression of perspective.

Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano

Light, Shadow and Perspective

Some of the most famous Florentine Quattrocento painters of the post-Masaccio period were Paolo Uccello (1397-1475), Piero della Francesca (1415-1492), and Filippo Lippi (1406-1469).

These painters dedicated themselves to the study of light and shadow and perspective as their paramount concern. Paolo Uccello was said to be so obsessed with trying to achieve the appearance of perspective by grasping the exact vanishing point that it disturbed his sleep.

Piero della Francesca studied light and linear perspective from a scientific point of view and wrote treatises about his findings.

Paolo Uccello's paintings emphasized color and pageantry rather than strictly classical realism, and he used perspective to convey a feeling of depth rather than to narrate different or succeeding stories as his contemporaries did.

Paolo Uccello

He is best known for his three egg tempera on wood paintings representing the Battle of San Romano, which use broken weapons on the ground and fields on the distant hills to give an impression of perspective.

Paolo Uccello also used light and contrast for dramatic effect in some of his almost monochrome frescoes, enlivening terra verde or "green earth" compositions with touches of bright vermilion.

The best known is his equestrian portrait of John Hawkwood in the Florence Cathedral, which gives the impression of being lit by natural light as if the light source was an actual window in the cathedral.

Piero della Francesca

Piero della Francesca is famous for his fresco paintings including the cycle of frescoes depicting the Legend of the True Cross, and his painting is characterized by its serene humanism and its use of geometric forms in addition to his close attention to perspective.

His Flagellation of Christ demonstrates his mastery over linear perspective and his knowledge of how light is proportionally disseminated from its point of origin.

There are two light sources in the painting, one outside the building and the other from outside. While the light source inside the building is invisible, its position can be calculated with mathematical certainty from the rest of the composition, demonstrating his intimate understanding of the science of light.

The Flagellation of Christ

Public Domain Image

The Flagellation of Christ

The Flagellation of Christ demonstrates Piero della Francesca's control over both perspective and light.

Question 1

Which of the following BEST describes the techniques that Masaccio introduced to Italian painting?

A) naturalism, the use of linear perspective, sfumato, and chiaroscuro.

B) proportional and anatomically accurate representations of the human body and naturalistic landscapes

C) color and pageantry

D) terra verde, or "green earth" compositions

Question 2

Which best describes the style of Piero della Francesca?

A) Still and geometric

B) Dark and shadowy

C) Flowing and dramatic

D) Detailed and dark

Answers

Question 1: A Naturalism, the use of linear perspective, sfumato, and chiaroscuro

Question 2: A Still and geometric

Boundless, (CC BY-SA 4.0) Additional images and titles added.