Also known as “Middle Stone age”, the Mesolithic period covers a brief time span of about 2,000 years. It served as an important bridge between the upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic age, the art of this period had no relevant artistic connotations in the form of representation in comparison with predecessor times.
The art of the later Neolithic period varies exponentially, as well as being better preserved and offer us thousands of art examples rather than a “handful” as in the case of the Mesolithic. Let’s briefly cover the artistic Mesolithic events because, after all, it is different from any other time period in the prehistoric man history. Geography and climate had changed and people gradually had adapted, assisted by a more temperate climate and various edible plants were there on hand to aid in survival.
Given that human beings do not have to live in caves or follow herds any more, this era saw the beginning of settled and agricultural communities. The invention of the bow and the arrow helped to provide more food from the hunting of animals and the development of ceramics for food storage; It was definitely a step forward.
The domestication of animals – for food in the development of a more pastoral lifestyle, or in the case of dogs, for help in the hunt for food was another element of prosperity in their live that allowed better conditions for the settlement.
The pottery, although it was largely produced was intended to be utilitarian only to contain water or grain, not necessarily for embellishment or visual pleasure. The portable statuary of the Upper Paleolithic was largely absent during the Mesolithic era. This is probably the reason why people settled and did not require an art with small objects or portable with which to travel. The Highlights at this time is the carvings of obsidian and other objects with jagged edges.
The elaboration of tools and weapons count with the Flint knapping technique for arrow and spear points used in large spear like sticks and also for hand use type, been done profusely. Other tools such as scrapers for cleaning hides and knives were also made from flint.
The most interesting Mesolithic art as we know of consists of paintings similar to the cave paintings from the Paleolithic era, these move abroad towards cliffs or “walls” of natural vertical rock , often semi-protected by outcrops or overhangs of natural rocks. Although these cave paintings have been found in places ranging from the extreme north of Europe to South Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, the largest concentration of them exists in the East of Spain.
Main features of the Mesolithic art
– The paintings of this time change in regards to the topics where there are human groups participating in hunts or rituals.
– Human beings shown in the cave painting are highly stylized, as glorified stick figures. These human beings look more like images pictographs, and some historians pose representing the primitive beginnings of writing (e.g.: hieroglyphs).
– Very often the groupings of figures are painted in repetitive patterns, resulting in a good sense of rhythm, even if you are not sure of the action in which they are involved.
Fundamental contributions of the Babylonians in terms of technique, science, medicine, astronomy and law.
Technology in antiquity:Refers to advances in the development of tools and utensils for practical or decorative use, as well as the ability to use products of good quality for better results and production on a larger scale.
Babylonians were very skills in different techniques that contribute to make great advances in their civilization. Among those advances are:
– The prevention and contagion of diseases with the application of personal hygiene measures that included frequent ablutions, hand washing, water boiling and elaboration with this one of both medicinal and common use beverages. They detailed on the tablets the symbols and signs that correspond to the different diseases known to them and how to treat them effectively.
– Creation and implementation of the first criminal code of laws to govern the behavior of people.
– Creation of religious cults that propagated with modified versions towards other cultures in antiquity.
– They were able to obtain alloys of metals with which they produced tools, weapons and elements of decorative and utilitarian character like metal sculptures, jewels, metal vessels, shields, swords, bracelets etc.
– Advanced knowledge in the use of irrigation for agriculture, recycling of land and crops.
– The use of cuneiform writing on cylinders and slabs of baked clay technique inherited from the Sumerians, has provided valuable information with which it could document aspects of its history, traditions and culture.
– Amazing technique for the elaboration of vitrified bricks used for the decoration of palaces and temples.
– Advanced mathematical and astronomical knowledge about the constellations, distance from the earth to the sun, the solstices and equinoxes, which the earth’s orbit was elliptical, placed the sun as the center of the galaxy, the number of planets in our galaxy among others.
– The creation of the wheel in Sumeria and extensive use of it in all Mesopotamia.
The Babylonians and medicine.
The Babylonians achieved important results in the treatment of diseases from natural organic compounds such as honey and medicinal plants. The prevention and contagion of diseases with the application of measures of personal hygiene that included frequent ablutions, washing of the hands, boiling of water and elaboration with this one of both medicinal drinks and those with common use.
The Babylonian physicians were able to operate their patients fairly effectively and were punished if their patients died as stipulated in their code of laws.
In Mesopotamia all as it was in Babylon were introduced over time concepts of disease diagnosis and prognosis of patients’ health status, as well as the study of possible complications, based on previous experiences recorded on their ceramic tablets in cuneiform script.
These tablets; that came to form a kind of compilation or book on the subject reflected in detail, descriptions containing symbols and signs that corresponded to the different diseases, known by them and how to treat them effectively.
The cleaning of the city was seen by the Mesopotamian cultures as an important element for the prevention of diseases. From where they obtained that knowledge? That still remains a mystery, especially if it’s consider that we are talking about human conglomerates that conformed civilizations in the Neolithic period. Their advances are equivalent to thousand of years of observation, so it is remarkable and curious they have
all this knowledge suddenly from the beginning of their civilization. This opens more questions that need to be investigate seriously.
Works with metal in Babylon and Mesopotamia.
They were able to obtain metal alloys with which they produced tools, weapons as well as decorative and utilitarian elements such as metal sculptures.
Techniques like “The granulation”, of fine appearance and great variety, as well as the system consistent of embossing the metal; with exquisite mastery in the results. This objects were widely used in jewelry, decoration of arms, shields to use in war, metallic vases etc.
They did not make these objects for their own personal consumption only, but were marketed else where too, having a wide demand for their quality, even in geographically remote areas. Their technique of applying beads of Chalcedony was very popular at that time as well as their beautiful works in the applications of Lapis lazuli Technique.
Babylonian system of laws.
The city of Babylon reaches its maximum splendor with the figure of king Hammurabi, more important of the first dynasty of Babylon, that reigned between the years 1792 and 1750 A.C. He cemented and forged the foundations of the Babylonian Empire.
The code of laws of Hammurabi, is the first legislation that is known in history, has an amazing property and is its ability to be understood, its wisdom and understanding of human behavior. More can be found in the article about Hammurabi and the code of Laws.
The glazed bricks of Babylon.
Among the techniques developed by the Babylonians is the elaboration of vitrified bricks used for the decoration of palaces and temples. It highlights the decoration of the entrance of the city known as “The Gate of Istar” in which many vitrified bricks colored with intense shades of blue and other colors give us representations of animals that were supposed to protect the entrance to the city .
This technique imitated by other cultures has unfortunately disappeared and despite attempts to reproduce it, at present the attempts have been unsuccessful. It is a mystery how they managed to produce these vitrified bricks in substantial quantities. The pigments used from nature’s own materials were diluted in exact, millimeter quantities and reproducing this on a large scale required a knowledge of chemistry and properties of the natural compounds that is truly a mystery how they manages to achieved, or how they obtain that knowledge, that even today has not been able to be reproduced.
Advanced knowledge of astronomy and creation of astrology in Mesopotamia.
One of the great mysteries that this culture presents to us is, how it was possible for them, the Sumerians and the Assyrians to know advanced elements of astronomy as if they could have contemplated the cosmos from an external perspective to the earth and not a simple contemplation of the stars from the surface of the planet and obtaining that knowledge during only the short time that this culture arose, later developed and was extinguished.
They knew the number of planets of the solar system.In a relief it is shown a representation of the solar system with the planets revolving around the sun. They have specific mathematical and astronomical knowledge about the constellations, distance from the earth to the sun, the solstices and equinoxes, that the earth’s orbit was elliptical, they knew how to calculate the movements of the sun, moon, stars and planets.
They could calculate the occurrence of eclipses of sun and moon. They new about the Precession of the equinoxes and solstices. This information came to be re-discovered by science thousand of years after the flowering of this cultures in Mesopotamia.They placed the sun as the center of the galaxy around which the planets revolved.
The invention and utilization of the wheel.
The discovery of the wheel in Sumer around 3500 (BC) in the Mesopotamian region was one of the most important technological advances in the history of man. The Babylonians welcomed this invention and developed it even more in the sense of the multiple applications for which they used the wheel. It is almost impossible to realize a mechanism of movement nowadays that does not involve the use of the wheel.
They were use in militarist campaigns constructing the war wagons, in agriculture to propel water to the place needed, to move mechanisms for different use.
Advanced knowledge on the use of irrigation for agriculture, recycling of land and crops, allowed them not only to settle in these areas that had limitations with conditions not suitable for agriculture, but to prosper in a way that was possible to increase population and sustaining it through the infrastructure they developed, making it one of the most important empires of the time whose technical and scientific advances were assimilated by other cultures as well.
Babylonian rituals, worship and temples.
Human beings at that time worshiped a deity or heroic figure; and those adoration and rituals were present in Babylon and contributed to create and to foment the cults propagating them by the world. Those cults were based on stories that curiously had points of contact with the stories and cult of other cultures in the rest of the planet. Many of these stories coincide with even bible passages, and histories or the so called mythologies such as Greek and Romans.
Buildings and temples were done based on knowledge of mathematical measures and physical principles which nowadays seem normal to know, but the big question is how the Babylonians and Mesopotamian cultures knew it 5000 years ago?
With the translation of the tablets written in cuneiform, progressively new elements are seeing the light, that contribute a little more to know who were the Babylonians and the cultures with which they were related by invasions or simple commercial relations. More about Babylonian mythology can be found in an article expanding this information in the blog.
Very little is known of the Greek painters in ancient times, however, it is well know the mastery they could reach and manifested, as is also know the incredible realistic effects they produce by descriptions of some Roman writers annotations about the greek painters and the very few paintings that has survived. The Roman’s copies of Greek paintings also aport valuable informations, since they greatly appreciate their techniques and styles, coping and reproducing them even; many times the same work in different periods.
The paintings of ceramic vases and mural paintings discovered in Etruscan tombs; who imitated the work style and technique of Greek painters very well give us as well an idea on how they must have been realized
We can only see, some original Greek paintings features in the painting of their ceramic vases, that still remain in Museums and private collections, which decorations follow the bases characteristics of equilibrium and harmony, away from abrupted lines, carefully representing the sinuosity of the form in sophisticated fashion, like in the way the group the characters, the lines to accentuate the figures against the background, and others details. But unfortunately the richness in the palette used, the tones, the matiz and other aspects, can not be appreciated in their ceramic work due to the limitations of this technique.
It is know the names of many famous painters in ancient times and references of many of their works, but unfortunately, as we state before, they have not survived either.
Names of some ancient Greek painters:
– Polignoto – Apolodoro of Athens. – Agatarco of Samos. – Zeuxis Parrasio – Apelles.
Greek Painting in frescoes
Fresco Painting was a method widely used for decoration of the walls of temples, public buildings, houses and tombs. It should be noted however that this type of mural painting did not have the same level of reputation that panel painting had. Due to the perishable nature of these panels along with centuries of looting and vandalism, not a single Greek Classical panel painting of any quality has survived.
The mural was intended primarily to cover or disguise the imperfection of the walls; whose completion was not very smooth; because of the poor materials used in its lining. The themes treated in this type of painting were however similar to the one used on panel painting. In contrast to other ancient culture that also did fresco’s to decorated the uneven surfaces, the Greeks did not filled all the spaces in them; not leaving absolutely not space free like other cultures usually did. Greek remain loyal to the concept of balances, equilibrium, order and mathematical proportions in the fresco painting as well.
Among the examples of Greek fresco painting are some mural painting in Etruscan tombs discovered like the one shown below corresponding with the Tomb of the diver.
– The Tomb of the Diver at Paestum (c.480), a grave decorations in the Greek colonies in Italy.
– The Great Tomb at Verfina (c.326 BC), whose facade was decorated with a large wall painting of a royal lion hunt. This mural is noted for its subtle depictions of light and shadow as well as the use of a technique called Optical Fusion (the juxtaposition of lines of different colors).
Painting on the Greek sculptures.
Sculptures also were painted, the stone, terracotta and wood sculpture was another specialist technique mastered by Greek artists. Stone sculptures were typically painted in bold colors; mostly the part corresponding with the representation of the hair and the clothes, however the part corresponding to the skin lacks of painting, were stayed with the natural tone of the stone.
Sculptures were painted but not all its parts, rather only some; to highlight some elements, and that was done with taste and detail, with subtlety, enhancing the beauty and expressiveness of these sculptures in an impressive form. Sometimes all the sculpture was painted in a single color, and they were usually the one related to religious cult.
Based on micropigments remains on greek relief and sculptures; have been possible to obtain thanks to modern techniques a representation on how they must have been look like in ancient times.
Greek Painting Classical Period (400-323) BC.
Almost all pictorial forms flourished during the classical period of Greek art, panel painting is highly used in the in-caustic or tempera technique. The topics addressed mainly figurative scenes, portraits, and still life. Representations of mythology passages were also portrayed in them. Heroes and heroines are represented with the canons of ideal beauty, balanced proportions and softness of the lines.
Their rationality produces calm, balanced, they are away of nervous lines, crack forms or bold and unbalance elements, as well as sudden movements of the lines that can produce an uneasy feeling or uncertainty.
Their artworks; was mainly addressed to achieve the appreciation of beauty by the viewers and give joy to their spirits, they get to represent however; the sinuosity of the outlines of human figures and fine detail in the representation of nature; despite the idealism they convey as a way of represent forms in their ideal depiction, not because they don’t care about reality and the social challenges of living in a civilized society, they did it because in their philosophy of life; in order to represent an art that can be appreciate to the point of elevating the joy of the spirit, reality need to be sifted, filtrated and sweetened, no presented row and crude as human usually perceive reality.
During the golden period of Macedonian empire under the mandate of Felipe II of Macedon, father of Alexander the great, the Greek painting had its greater apogee with works of great quality.
There are pictorial experimentation and new techniques addressed to improve the use of shading, color and light to highlight the figures. Although the scenes were a sweet idealized fantasy of the imagination of the artist; they show great interest representing the detail of the elements of plants and animals in their paintings. The same apply as well to represent human figures as realistic as possible; as they did in other manifestations like sculpture, studying the real human features very carefully they obtained the best result. Different schools were created and their geographical location determine in some artistic tendencies of their artworks. Cartoon and genre painting are treated in this period also with success.
Greek painting. Hellenistic period.
During the Hellenistic period begins around the year 323 BC and coinciding with the death of Alexander the great, the Greek art transcends borders and times. In their constant journey to achieve perfection therefore; the Greek painters introduce in this period in order to reach a better communication with the viewers, certain movements in the lines to insinuate dynamic in the figures and to put emphasis in the emotions, although maintaining equilibrium without impetuous splits in the lines and forms. The light gets an important protagonist play highlighting the main characters in the compositions.
Artist achieve through repetitive intents; from the times of the Classical period, better results riching a better depictions of the location and proportion of the figures in their artworks that suggest a three dimensional scene. It reveals a grasp of linear perspective (Linear Perspective uses vanishing points and lines of conversions to give a picture space and depth) as well as a naturalist representation which would remain unsurpassed until the Italian High Renaissance.
From the 5th century BC we cannot appreciate the evolution of Greek painting taking as an example the ceramic decoration, because there will not be a correlation between them. The mosaics and some frescoes from Roman times, copies of the most famous Greek painters Apelles, “official” painter of Alexander the great, Soso of Pergamum , Teón or Filóxeno of Eritrea), show that their evolution continued to a greater naturalism, achieving in Hellenistic times the domain of the volume.
Greek art influence is well received even by the Romans; who appreciate and imitate the Greek art for a long time. Paintings by artists under the rule of the Roman Empire make many imitations produced to decorate palaces, temples and Roman public buildings; even in their colonies outside of Rome. Roman’s thou reinforced the purpose of political propaganda and religious characteristics, over the simple decoration purpose; for the joy and elevation of the spirit that the Greeks conferred to their art.
The Etruscan were very influenced by Greek painting style, mostly their paintings from the early periods, because they change slightly with time some characteristics regarding color, proportions, and relation between background and figures. (refer to the Etruscan painting post for more details.)
The early Renaissancewas ranging from the year 1420 until 1500 and gathers many artists, including architects, painters and sculptors who were the initial promoters of the stylistic reform in Italy. They are starting to sign their works openly and also feel highly inspired by the painters of the late Gothic period whose works were showing the way of the new humanist thought nascent, as it was the case of Van Eyck or the Limbourg brother’s.
The beginning of the Renaissance in the city of Florence in Italy coincides with the late period of the Gothic in Europe. The Italian cities gradually joint this humanist current and although at this early stage of the Renaissance still remain Gothic elements; the artists are routed to search for technical solutions that enable them to represent their works with the new aesthetic conception.
Among the featured artists is noteworthy to mention the exceptional artists Filipo Brunelleschi. (1377-1446) and Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone: (Masaccio) (1401-1428), who, the first in architecture and the second in painting marked milestones successes finding practical solutions to technical problems in art. This solutions opened new possibilities and the rebirth of man expression in art.
The Renaissance philosophical thought and artistic style initially encounter opinions against it and was accused of being the Liberals and Neo-pagans style, but the uncompromising pursuit of the Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) could not stop the progress of mankind thinking towards modern tendencies and acute transformation. To gradually get rid of the bondage of the guilds of craftsmen and become individuals artists with humanistic trend-based they devoted to learn and works from the classicism and perfection of Greek and Roman art antiquity.
The new “Cult of Fame” helps them to have a large clientele that wants to be immortalized in pictures or sculptures or who want to show their respects for the prominent successful figures. They make for instances beautiful and valuable objects to decorate the palaces or social centers’ for the affluent class who was eager to display their wealth and power.
They works in this period are therefore proportionate, measured, and attached to Greek and Roman classicism dogmas, but also possess the pride of a successful man who wants to show its reality as it. In that sense, there is a takeoff from the pure aesthetics of the Greek idealism, becoming their works more realistic and very detail, like if they were to come alive in front the eyes of the viewer’s.
The traits of the characters are identical to the models; no matter if they were ugly or beautiful, even the temperaments or the emotions that were being represented were explicitly indicated for better communication with the Spectator. They were not however exempt of veiled signs or hidden messages intended to be understood by a cult audience.
Characters and scenes were not perfect and idealized, but realistic and perfect. Many artists are noted for their talent and personal style which ranks them as prominent artists in demand, who will in turn become teachers or mentors; as Verrocchio, who was Leonardo Da Vinci teacher.
Painters, sculptors and architects in Early Renaissance.
Here are some of the most important.
– Philip Brunelleschi. (1377-1446)
– Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi.(Donatello) (1386-1466)
– Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (Sandro Botticelli) (1445-1510)
– Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone: (Masaccio) (1401-1428)
– Domenico di Ghirlandaio. (1449-1494)
– Piero de la Francesca (1415-1492)
– Andrea di Michelle di Francesco de’ Cioni. (Andrea Verrocchio)(1435-1488)
– Lorenzo di Bartolo. (Lorenzo Ghiberti). (1378-1455)
– Agostino di Duccio. (1418-1481)
– Fra. Angelico (Fra. Giovanni di Fiesole (1395-1455)
– Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)
– Alesso Baldovinetti (1425-1499)
– Desiderio de Bartolomeo di Francesco detto Ferro (Desiderio da Settignano) 1428-1464)
– Lucca della Robbia (1400-1482)
– Domenico Veneziano (1410-1461)
– Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)
– Antonio Rossellino. (1427-1479)
– Bertoldo di Giovanni. (14 1491)
– Antonio di Pollaiolo. (1433-1498)
– Andrea di Castagno. (1423-1457)
In High Renaissance period roughly (1475-1525) the papacy in Rome also assumes the role of patronage. After a period of hesitation in which they still did not accept the radical change of thinking, Church has no other option that conforms and get to good terms with this unstoppable humanist current. Desirous of having the services of prestigious artists, they commissioned decoration of salons in papal buildings, funerary monuments and other religious buildings to painters and important sculptors representing the pinnacle of artistic talent of that era, among them: Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci and Titian.
They performed works also commissioned by patrons or important public figures such as the Medici family, which by then controlled the Italian finance and whose influence stretched as well to the rest of Europe. Politics stability recent established in different regions allowed powerful families to act as patrons of the arts enabling this one to flourish.
The art of the Renaissance expands throughout Europe in this period known as the High Renaissance, but fundamentally accommodates itself very well in (France, England, Germany and Spain). This art answer effectively to the bourgeois society needs, who was seeking to surround themselves with comfort, and with means to express its refinement and power as already established successful class.
A great interest in nature and the animal world are illustrated in the sketches of artists as Alberto Durero; dominant figure of the German Renaissance who represent elements of the figures in detail. As a scientist and artist his paintings, drawings, engravings and theoretical writings on artexerted a profound influence on the artists of the 16th century in his own country and also in the Netherlands with artists such as Hans Holbein the younger and Lucas Cranach the elder (1472-1553).
Figures of heroes and legends are revived with vivacity and tangible realisms in works of unquestionable talent, which seem as if they were prompted to come alive and gain movement. In them the human figure; as in the case of the Michelangelo’s David (made life-size), express the detailed study of the forms of the body, its curves, veins, natural legs and hips flex. Miguel Angel manages to represent the action, the drama of the moment trough simple elements like the hands gesture or the tense expectant face expression.
He was also the author of the Sistine Chapel vault decoration and in this supernal creation reflects his knowledge of the human body as it did when he sculpted. Michelangelo Buonarroti was the first artist who could represent this chapter of the Bible about the creation in a surprising painting with realism and detailed work, entirely based on the poses, dramatic gestures and expressions of the faces of the figures, transmitting the message of the chaotic anxiety before the final judgment.
In this period Saints, Virgins and Apostles are endowed in the artistic works executed with dignity and nobility that is expressed well in its humanized figures, which are represented by the classic canons of beauty but far from being totally idealized they are very natural looking and as realistic as they could possible get.
Classical philosophers talk within the composition by Raphael “The school of philosophy” surrounded by personalities of the Renaissance, where the spatial illusion represented shows a stunning three-dimensional depth. The softness of the faces of their Virgin and portrait of personalities seem to be made without effort, when in reality an incredible command of technique and great capacity of work give us a visual delight were soft and sweet faces figures evoke a real and emotional feeling, but where light nevertheless is the true protagonist.
Leonardo Da Vinci with his constant experimentation, study the behavior of pigments and adhesives in paint, He finish few works entirely but in the ones preserved it showed the supernal neatness of the drawing and the mastery of the use of color, skills he gathered through the compendium of knowledge he gets to possessed on many scientific aspects. He reaches mastery using the aerial perspective and the so-called Esfumato, skills that placed him as one of the great geniuses of the Renaissance painting.
Another prominent artist of this period was Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) whose work manages to represent the pathos of color through control over the lights and shadows. With it’s madden and dynamic style emotionally moves the viewer’s when reinforce de dramatic effects. His elaborate style, which influenced other painters of his time, laid the foundations of what would become the Mannerist style in the 16th century.
Bramante and Giorgione created very specific and realistic atmospheres where nature in meticulous detail represented seems to beat with warm life, they carry out works with mastery in the use of color; so exquisite that it can be said this is the true protagonist in their works.
Leading artists of the High Renaissance
– Michel angeló di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. (Michelangelo Buonarroti). (1475-1564)
– Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci. (Leonardo Da Vinci) (1452-1519)
– Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. (Rafael). (1483-1520)
– Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio. (Titian) (1485-1576)
– Giorgio da Castelfranco. (Giorgione). (1470-1510).
– Donato di Pascuccio D’Antonio. (Donato Bramante da Urbino) (1444-1514)
Mannerism in the Renaissance
This trend had an advance theoretical developed literature that however found no echo in the bourgeoisie who could not understand its complex conceptual sophistication right away. Mannerism coincides with the period of the crisis of Christianity and the fighting in Europe against the Muslim invaders.
This tumultuous stage marks the style of many painters across Europe influencing painters in countries as Germany, France, and especially in Spain where the figure of the painter known as El Greco was highly appreciated in the Spanish courts.
Human figures are more elongated away from the classical balance, used intense chromatic’s, rapture of forms, charged and busy compositions. High expressions of emotions are displayed that increased the feeling of restlessness and anxiety. These paintings are intended to provoke emotional reactions in the Viewer. Clearly, they are the anticlassical response that has been progressively developing that took a boom at the end of the 16th century.
The contrasting palette of “El Greco”, for example, emphasizes the message through a particularly dramatic eloquence, is almost as if we were seeing real characters in a theatrical scene setting, in his work “The burial of the Count of Orgaz” the pathos about death is represented so vividly that we feel overwhelmed with sorrow before is contemplation.
Artists belonging to the mannerist period
– Andrea di Sarto (1486-1530) (High Renaissance and Mannerist)
– Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Rosso Fiorentino) (1494-1540)
– Sebastiano di Piombo. (High Renaissance and Mannerist)(1485-1547)
– Girolamo Fransesco María Mazzola. (Parmigianino) (1503-1540)
– Francesco Primaticcio. (1504-1507)
– Agnolo di Cosimo (Bronzino) (1503-1572)
– Giorgio Vasari. (1511-1574)
– Jean Boulogne. (Gianbologna) wrongly know as (Giovanni da Bologna). (1529-1608)
– Bartolommeo Bandinelli. (1493-1560)
– Bartolomeo Ammanati. (1511-1592)
– Bernardo Buontalenti (Bernardo Delle Girandole)(1531-1608)
– Benvenuto Cellini. (1500-1571)
– Federico Zuccari. (1540-1609)
– Pellegrino Tebaldi (1527-1596)
Painters and Mannerist sculptors with its tendency to over ornate and situate many elements in their compositions are the anticlassical response to equilibrate compositional dogmas, experimentation with different color palettes, blurred backgrounds; nervous drawing and exacerbated drama occurred, enunciating the new aesthetic and stylistic bases.
This mannerist period is the direct antecedent of the Baroque style in art.
This bases are not taken lightly by the next generation of painters who influenced by the new economical, political and social situation, drive towards a deeper change away from the classical plastic form of the academic and entering a new period in Art History.
Parmigianino’sMadonna with the Long Neck (1534-40) (Wikepedia commons).
Mannerism makes itself known by elongated proportions, highly stylized poses, and lack of clear perspective.
Is called Renaissance the great artistic and philosophical movement produced in Europe at the end of the 15th century which started in the city of Florence in Italy. This movement manifests itself particularly in the arts, admiring and taking as a model the classical antiquity and its anthropocentrism: (is given preferential interest to the human body, in particular to the naked, whose anatomy is studied and carefully copy).
The name of Renaissancealludes to what this movement wanted to be: a revival of Greco-Roman culture.
Humanism revitalization during Renaissance period
It began as a movement driven by artists and intellectuals, under the sign of humanism; in which for them the figure of man was paramount. It is an Arts revival in which from the point of view of ethical and aesthetic issues, the proposals represented are no longer absolutely according to the Christian concept of life.
The intellectuals of the Renaissance among other things, were inclined for the fusion of Christian belief with the knowledge of the ancient classical period of Greece and Rome, acting according to it, not oppose to Christianity, but towards been better Christians armed with the understanding of the work of ancient scholars. The philosopher Giovanni Pico de la Mirandola (1463-1494) in his “Prayer to the dignity of man” summarizes the humanism of the Renaissance and León Battista Alberti epitomizes in his multifaceted artistic and literary works the merits of the new man of the Renaissance with a big craving for learning.
Influenced by modern scientific advances like the study of medicine and philosophers works such as Cicero, the renaissance mans developed a particular optic, appreciating beauty through the nostalgia of the classical past. A taste for representing the anatomical realism of human body is developed, accompanied by its accurate graphic representation. The divine spirit of man, their emotions and their ability to communicate with his creator, are the source of main inspiration in the Renaissance, at the same time pondering the ability of man of been able to create innumerable practical and beautiful things and get the knowledge needed to be a better man and better Christian.
The Italian Cities States; first Florence, then also Venice and Milan, which had seen Greco-Roman culture been displaced from their regions during the middle ages, gradually evolve during the late Gothic period towards a rescue of the ancient traditional concept of beauty. For artists and philosophers of this period, it was necessary returning to the perfection of forms and circumvents what for them were nothing more than the Barbaric Gothic and Byzantine styles. Although naturally they don’t get freed immediately themselves from the Gothic influence that still had a lot of weight, both in the country as in the rest of the continent.
After the Dark Age and having survived the black plague, begins a period in which there is more appreciation for the individuality and the obtaining of knowledge through personal achievements, which for them were worth as much as gold. The Renaissance period marks the beginning of the modern era in the history of mankind.
A new cult of Fame from that moment arises and sculptural monuments and paintings are meant to enhance the figures importance and their achievements. No longer being rich marks the only way to belong to a high class, for that point onward is valued the individual as a creator and very appreciate what he is capable to brings to society in terms of knowledge and personal success.
Artist during Renaissance period begin to be recognized as such.
Artists are respected and considered as important elements within the community and are released from the guilds of craftsmen. For them art was no longer an anonymous service to God and the Church. In the Renaissance the reason and knowledge were the artists personal hymn, praising the beauty, the proportion and harmony, both the nature and the image of the human being, for them essence of the sacred universal whole.
Already recognized as artist and not as mere anonymous craftsmen, they accept custom work petitions from private sector as well as from the clergy. They start signing their works openly during the Renaissance, which helps the history of art to recognize and classify their works from this point onwards more easily.
Main causes of the Renaissance emerge.
-It was possible to study the techniques and knowledge from ancient’s monuments and sculptures, thank to valuable manuscripts found in universities and medieval convents of Greek and Roman authors.
-The study and use of Latin as a cultured language, which made possible reading of the classics, as well as professional skill, contribute from the arrival of Greek exiles from the Turks invasion that were fleeing to Italy.
-The presence in Italian land of Roman ruins which gave rise to the desire to know the civilization that had set up magnificent monuments. (Such was the case of the artist Filipo Brunelleschi) who study the foundations and columns of those monuments.
-The invention of printing by the German Gutenberg, which contributed to the diffusion of the writings of poets, philosophers and historians in ancient times. The books mechanically printed made possible more people could have access to them.
– Geographical discoveries, the advancement of science, progress of scientific theories, (among of them Galileo’s centrist helium theory that revolutionized the scholar’s thinking).
– Development of several new techniques in diverse fields that paved the road towards innovative achievements in the XVI c.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RENAISSANCE ART
– Imitation of architecture and sculpture of Greece and Rome.
– Realization of works with what for them was the ideal beauty, adjusted to canons dictated by reason.
– Search for the serenity and balance that comes from the harmony of the whole.
– They manage to capture the ideal way to correctly represent the aerial or linear perspective in painting, as well as the sensation of corporeality or three-dimensional figures.
– Applies the concept of spatial illusion in painting.
– Creation of equilibrate and harmonious works, whose clarity and perfection gives them a permanent validity.
– Expansion of themes in works such as mythology, religion, history, legends, portraits, landscapes, heroes etc.
– Conceptualization of the works that are endowed of a clever message with veiled codes.
– Application of the study of the divine proportion based on the human figure.
– Realistic representation of nature and the man.
– Use of expressive gesture reaching the highest intensity with the mannerisms.
– Figures are placed in complex formal arrangement.
– Use of chiaroscuro.
– Works of art in the Renaissance period tends to be monumental.
New painting techniques in the Renaissance
– The invention of linear perspective found by Filipo Brunelleschi in architecture and adapted by Masaccio in painting, marks a significant milestone in the possibility which the artist can represent and express the message, using scientific principles of optics that help the spatial display of scenes.
– With the increased use of the canvas as a base for paint opens new possibilities for the creation of new pigments on basis of oil; endowing the paintings of beautiful colors and sublime contrasts of light and shadow.
-The multitalented artist Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) dominates the aerial perspective representing the atmosphere that wrap objects, blurring the convergent lines, eliminating the boundaries of shape and color, which gives a very real impression of distance. He constantly experimented with lacquers and adhesives but not all of them gave good results and for this reason his few works (many not totally finished) are not kept in good condition. Leonardo da Vinci achieved outstanding results with what is known as esfumato in which the tones of colors degrade to merge with each other imperceptibly, creating volume and depth. In his famous scheme of the Vitruvian man, shows a detailed study of the divine proportion based on the human figure, principle followed later by many other painters.
– The use of chiaroscuro in painting allows contrast of lights and shadows, giving dimension to a painting and the illusion of depth or three-dimensionality.
– The rediscovery of the mathematical proportions of the human body in the 15th century by Leonardo and other authors is considered one of the great achievements of the Renaissance.
– Foreshortening is a technique used by artists such as Andrea Mantegna in which to create the illusion of depth the objects receding strongly into the distance or background. The artist records, in varying degrees, the distortion that is seen by the eye when an object or figure is viewed at a distance or at an unusual angle. It makes parts of an object or subject closest to you appear much larger relative to other parts or figures. The closer to the viewer the bigger is the figure.
Death of the Virgin
Author:Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)
It makes parts of an object or subject closest to you appear much larger relative to other parts or figures. The closer to the viewer the bigger is the figure.
painted in (1462–1464)
Technique: Tempera and gold on panel
In the next article will be summarize the Renaissance in art seen according to its division for periods of time.
The Trecento, the Quatrocento and the Cinquecento.