✎✎✎ Northern Renaissance Art Analysis

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Northern Renaissance Art Analysis



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Northern Renaissance Painters

Dura-Europos, a border city between the Romans and the Parthians , was the site of an early Jewish synagogue dated by an Aramaic inscription to CE. The synagogue is the best preserved of the many imperial Roman-era synagogues that have been uncovered by archaeologists. It contains a forecourt and house of assembly with frescoed walls depicting people and animals, as well as a Torah shrine in the western wall facing Jerusalem. The synagogue paintings, the earliest continuous surviving biblical narrative cycle, are conserved at Damascus, together with the complete Roman horse armor.

Because of the paintings adorning the walls, the synagogue was at first mistaken for a Greek temple. Remains of the synagogue at Dura-Europos : This is the best preserved ancient synagogue to be uncovered by archaeologists. The preserved frescoes include scenes such as the Sacrifice of Isaac and other Genesis stories, Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law, Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, scenes from the Book of Esther, and many others. The Hand of God motif is used to represent divine intervention or approval in several paintings.

Scholars cannot agree on the subjects of some scenes, because of damage, or the lack of comparative examples; some think the paintings were used as an instructional display to educate and teach the history and laws of the religion. Others think that this synagogue was painted in order to compete with the many other religions being practiced in Dura-Europos. The new and considerably smaller Christian church Dura-Europos church appears to have opened shortly before the surviving paintings were begun in the synagogue.

Early Christian, or Paleochristian, art was created by Christians or under Christian patronage throughout the second and third centuries. By the early years of Christianity first century , Judaism had been legalized through a compromise with the Roman state over two centuries. Christians were initially identified with the Jewish religion by the Romans, but as they became more distinct, Christianity became a problem for Roman rulers. Around the year 98, Nerva decreed that Christians did not have to pay the annual tax upon the Jews, effectively recognizing them as a distinct religion. This opened the way to the persecutions of Christians for disobedience to the emperor, as they refused to worship the state pantheon.

The oppression of Christians was only periodic until the middle of the first century. However, large-scale persecutions began in the year 64 when Nero blamed them for the Great Fire of Rome earlier that year. Early Christians continued to suffer sporadic persecutions. Because of their refusal to honor the Roman pantheon, which many believed brought misfortune upon the community, the local pagan populations put pressure on the imperial authorities to take action against their Christians neighbors.

The last and most severe persecution organized by the imperial authorities was the Diocletianic Persecution from to Early Christian, or Paleochristian, art was produced by Christians or under Christian patronage from the earliest period of Christianity to, depending on the definition used, between and In practice, identifiably Christian art only survives from the second century onwards.

After , Christian art is classified as Byzantine , or of some other regional type. It is difficult to know when distinctly Christian art began. Prior to , Christians may have been constrained by their position as a persecuted group from producing durable works of art. Since Christianity was largely a religion of the lower classes in this period, the lack of surviving art may reflect a lack of funds for patronage or a small numbers of followers.

The Old Testament restrictions against the production of graven images an idol or fetish carved in wood or stone might have also constrained Christians from producing art. Christians could have made or purchased art with pagan iconography but given it Christian meanings. Early Christians used the same artistic media as the surrounding pagan culture. These media included frescos, mosaics, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts. Early Christian art not only used Roman forms , it also used Roman styles. Late Classical art included a proportional portrayal of the human body and impressionistic presentation of space.

The Late Classical style is seen in early Christian frescos, such as those in the Catacombs of Rome, which include most examples of the earliest Christian art. Early Christian art is generally divided into two periods by scholars: before and after the Edict of Milan of , which legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. The end of the period of Early Christian art, which is typically defined by art historians as being in the fifth through seventh centuries, is thus a good deal later than the end of the period of Early Christianity as typically defined by theologians and church historians, which is more often considered to end under Constantine, between and In a move of strategic syncretism , the Early Christians adapted Roman motifs and gave new meanings to what had been pagan symbols.

Such symbols as the fish ikhthus , were not borrowed from pagan iconography. Fish and Loaves : This fish-and-loaves fresco—iconography particular to Christians and representative of the Eucharist—is found in the Catacombs of San Callisto. During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire, Christian art was necessarily and deliberately furtive and ambiguous, using imagery that was shared with pagan culture but had a special meaning for Christians. The earliest surviving Christian art comes from the late second to early fourth centuries on the walls of Christian tombs in the catacombs of Rome. From literary evidence, there might have been panel icons which have disappeared.

Initially, Jesus was represented indirectly by pictogram symbols such as the ichthys, the peacock, the Lamb of God, or an anchor. However, the depiction of Jesus was well-developed by the end of the pre-Constantinian period. He was typically shown in narrative scenes, with a preference for New Testament miracles, and few of scenes from his Passion. A variety of different types of appearance were used, including the thin, long-faced figure with long, centrally-parted hair that was later to become the norm. But in the earliest images as many show a stocky and short-haired beardless figure in a short tunic , who can only be identified by his context. In many images of miracles Jesus carries a stick or wand, which he points at the subject of the miracle rather like a modern stage magician though the wand is significantly larger.

Jesus Healing a Bleeding Woman : Typical of a depiction of Jesus for its time, this fresco depicts a clean-shaven man with short hair. From the catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter. The image of The Good Shepherd, a beardless youth in pastoral scenes collecting sheep, was the most common of these images and was probably not understood as a portrait of the historical Jesus. These images bear some resemblance to depictions of kouroi figures in Greco-Roman art.

The almost total absence from Christian paintings during the persecution period of the cross, except in the disguised form of the anchor, is notable. The house church at Dura-Europos is the oldest known house church. One of the walls within the structure was inscribed with a date that was interpreted as Remains of a house church at Dura-Europos : House churches, where Christians congregated secretly, were common prior to the legalization of Christianity.

Despite the larger atmosphere of persecution, the artifacts found in the house church provide evidence of localized Roman tolerance for a Christian presence. This location housed frescos of biblical scenes including a figure of Jesus healing the sick. When Christianity emerged in the Late Antique world, Christian ceremony and worship were secretive. Before Christianity was legalized in the fourth century, Christians suffered intermittent periods of persecution at the hands of the Romans.

Therefore, Christian worship was purposefully kept as inconspicuous as possible. Rather than building prominent new structures for express religious use, Christians in the Late Antique world took advantage of pre-existing, private structures—houses. The house church in general was known as the domus ecclesiae , Latin for house and assembly. Domi ecclesiae emerged in third-century Rome and are closely tied to domestic Roman architecture of this period, specifically to the peristyle house in which the rooms were arranged around a central courtyard. These rooms were often adjoined to create a larger gathering space that could accommodate small crowds of around fifty people.

Other rooms were used for different religious and ceremonial purpose, including education, the celebration of the Eucharist, the baptism of Christian converts, storage of charitable items, and private prayer and mass. The plan of the house church at Dura-Europos illustrates how house churches elsewhere were designed. Plan of the house church at Dura-Europos : Domi ecclesiae emerged in third-century Rome and are closely tied to the domestic Roman architecture of this period, specifically to the peristyle house in which the rooms were arranged around a central courtyard.

When Christianity was legalized in the fourth century, Christians were no longer forced to use pre-existing homes for their churches and meeting houses. Instead, they began to build churches of their own. Even then, Christian churches often purposefully featured unassuming—even plain—exteriors. They tended to be much larger as the rise in the popularity of the Christian faith meant that churches needed to accommodate an increasing volume of people. After their persecution ended, Christians began to build larger buildings for worship than the meeting places they had been using. After their persecution ended in the fourth century, Christians began to erect buildings that were larger and more elaborate than the house churches where they used to worship.

However, what emerged was an architectural style distinct from classical pagan forms. Architectural formulas for temples were deemed unsuitable. This was not simply for their pagan associations, but because pagan cult and sacrifices occurred outdoors under the open sky in the sight of the gods. The temple, housing the cult figures and the treasury , served as a backdrop. Therefore, Christians began using the model of the basilica, which had a central nave with one aisle at each side and an apse at one end. The basilica model was adopted in the construction of Old St. What stands today is New St. Whereas the original Roman basilica was rectangular with at least one apse, usually facing North, the Christian builders made several symbolic modifications.

Between the nave and the apse, they added a transept, which ran perpendicular to the nave. This addition gave the building a cruciform shape to memorialize the Crucifixion. The apse, which held the altar and the Eucharist, now faced East, in the direction of the rising sun. However, the apse of Old St. Plan of Old St. Exterior reconstruction of Old St. A Christian basilica of the fourth or fifth century stood behind its entirely enclosed forecourt.

It was ringed with a colonnade or arcade, like the stoa or peristyle that was its ancestor, or like the cloister that was its descendant. This forecourt was entered from outside through a range of buildings along the public street. In basilicas of the former Western Roman Empire, the central nave is taller than the aisles and forms a row of windows called a clerestory. In the Eastern Empire also known as the Byzantine Empire, which continued until the fifteenth century , churches were centrally planned.

The church of San Vitale is highly significant in Byzantine art, as it is the only major church from the period of the Eastern Emperor Justinian I to survive virtually intact to the present day. San Vitale : Unlike Western churches like St. This is known as a centrally planned church. The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in , when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths, and completed by the twenty-seventh Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian, in during the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna. The architect or architects of the church is unknown.

The construction of the church was sponsored by a Greek banker, Julius Argentarius, and the final cost amounted to 26, solidi gold pieces. The church has an octagonal plan and combines Roman elements the dome, shape of doorways, and stepped towers with Byzantine elements a polygonal apse, capitals , and narrow bricks. The church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics —they are the largest and best preserved mosaics outside of Constantinople.

The central section is surrounded by two superposed ambulatories, or covered passages around a cloister. The upper one, the matrimoneum, was reserved for married women. A series of mosaics in the lunettes above the triforia depict sacrifices from the Old Testament. On the side walls, the corners, next to the mullioned windows, are mosaics of the Four Evangelists, who are dressed in white under their symbols angel, lion, ox and eagle. The cross-ribbed vault in the presbytery is richly ornamented with mosaic festoons of leaves, fruit, and flowers that converge on a crown that encircles the Lamb of God.

The crown is supported by four angels, and every surface is covered with a profusion of flowers, stars, birds, and animals, specifically many peacocks. Above the arch , on both sides, two angels hold a disc. Beside them are representations of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. These two cities symbolize the human race. The presbytery at San Vitale : The cross-ribbed vault in the presbytery is richly ornamented with mosaic festoons of leaves, fruit and flowers that converge on a crown encircling the Lamb of God.

Despite an early opposition to monumental sculpture, artists for the early Christian church in the West eventually began producing life-sized sculptures. The sixteen columns that ring the building are a variation of the Doric column, which came to be called the Tuscanic column as it used a simpler round base and in its proportions followed the ratios of the Ionic column. The entablature above the columns depicts the keys of St. Peter and elements of the Catholic Mass. Above the columns a balustrade encircles the hemispheric dome, meant to symbolize the heavenly vault and the universe.

Bramante's original design placed the Tempietto within a circular courtyard, its columns and niches proportionally designed to radiate from the temple, making the building seem larger than it was. The plan was never completed, and subsequent building boxed in the temple, creating a cramped effect. Bramante wanted to create a building that was a perfect fusion of Humanist beliefs, derived from the classical world and Christian faith, as shown in the circular building's resemblance of both a Greek temple and the circular form traditionally used in tombs for Christian martyrs. The symmetrical design follows mathematical proportions derived from Leonardo's study of the Roman architect Vitruvius and his application of those proportions to the human body as seen in his Human Figure in a Circle and Square, illustrating Vitruvius on Proportion , which Bramante studied when working with Leonardo for the Duke of Milan.

This building was considered to be an exemplary High Renaissance building, as reflected by architect Andrea Palladio in his treatise on ancient temples. Called a "jewel" of the Renaissance, the building also prefigured Bramante's design, though not carried out, for St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle. Edited and revised, with Summary and Accomplishments added by Kimberly Nichols. The Art Story. Ways to support us. High Renaissance Started: s. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it. And they will live for much longer. Summary of High Renaissance The High Renaissance, subsequently coined to denote the artistic pinnacle of the Renaissance, refers to a thirty-year period exemplified by the groundbreaking, iconic works of art being made in Italy during what was considered a thriving societal prime.

During this period, a cultural movement toward Humanism arose, compelling artists to return to Classical Roman and Greek philosophies concerning universal man and his place in the world. This was a departure from the medieval era's idealized religious iconography and resulted in fresh depictions of divine subjects infused with a more resonant and human emotionality and expression. High Renaissance artists utilized and perfected a bevy of techniques borrowed from Early Renaissance artists.

This included the use of linear perspective to create extreme depth, highly accurate and scientifically correct depictions of human anatomy, the foreshortening of figures and subjects within elevated paintings and sculptures to provide an authentic viewing experience from below, and trompe l'oeil effects to seamlessly incorporate architectural elements into a work of art.

A rise of new styles arose that were groundbreaking for the time. Leonardo created sfumato , a glazing effect that revolutionized the blending of tone and color, and quadratura , or ceiling paintings, were born, meant to rapturously draw the gaze of viewers up into a heavenly visage. The period is noted for infusing ideals of beauty back into art. Whether depicting religious figures or everyday citizens, in architecture and in art, the High Renaissance artists' key concerns were to present pieces of visual, symmetrical, and compositional perfection.

Beginnings and Development. Later Developments and Legacy. Key Artists Leonardo da Vinci. Quick view Read more. Universally lauded as one of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci is known for his contributions to the Renaissance period in the form of portraits and religious paintings. Da Vinci was the eponymous "Renaissance Man," proficient not only in art, but also in mathematics, science, and technology. Michelangelo was the legendary Italian Renaissance artist famous for his sculpters of David and his Pieta, and he is perhaps best known for his large-scale painted frescos in the Sistine Chapel.

The Italian Renaissance painter and architect Raphael is celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. Andrea del Sarto. Del Sarto was the most important Florentine painter of the early 16th century buyilding on Leonardo's sfumato technique by introducing a warmer and more vivid range of colours influencing the later Mannerist style. Correggio, a preeminent Renaissance painter, created powerful pictorial drama that anticipated the emergence of the Baroque and Rococo styles.

Early Renaissance. Early in the 15th century, Florentine artists rejuvenated the arts with a more humanistic and individualistic treatment that spawned on of the most creative revolutions in the arts. Northern Renaissance. North of the European Alps an artistic, literary, and philosophical movement grew that was influenced by the spread of the Italian Renaissance's art and ideas. The Venetian School. The Venetian School, or Venetian Renaissance, was a thriving cultural movement with a passion for lush color and a distinctly Venetian adoration of embellishment.

The Art Story Podcast. Important Art and Artists of High Renaissance. Virgin of the Rocks c. View all Important Art. Documentary: The High Renaissance. History of the Renaissance Documentary. Mercedes T. Looking Back on Leonardo Our Pick. Marietta Cambareri and Jetskalina H. The unheard story behind the Sistine Chapel Our Pick. Michelangelo and the Intrigue of Drawings.

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