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Italian Renaissance Versus the Northern Humanists

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Similarities and Differences in the Italian Renaissance to the Northern Humanists

Before the 13th century, Europe had been in the Middle Ages, an age of religion and the collective need of every citizen to make it to heaven. But when the 1200's rolled around, changes in Italy began a period called the Italian Renaissance. This period led to another renaissance in Europe, the Northern renaissance. In both Renaissances, thinkers and artisans began to challenge accepted beliefs and changed the common subject of art and literature at the time. The art and literature of each renaissance had some fundamental similarities, but each separate event had its own specialties, such as the riches portrayed in the artwork of the Italians.

The artworks of each renaissance were similar in their composition, but sometimes different in their subject matter. In Italy, wealthy members of the populace were the main focus of art. The ideas of the Italian renaissance painters may have spread to the north, but not all the same ideas appeared in both places. Italian works displayed the riches and prosperity of this trading country. The Italian painters would create pictures of the rich and famous, and display depictions of the classics. One example of this is Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" which depicts the rising of the Roman goddess Venus from sea foam. In the north, their work showed the need of getting back to the Fundamentalist Christian ideals, depicting everyday life and more modest endeavours of peasants and common folk. This was because the number one goal of every peasant was to reach heaven. This is another example of the North's call for religious reforms. The northern Humanists saw Rome deviating to what they saw as the real Christian way, and their art portrayed a need to get back to the basics of the Christian faith. An example of their portrayal of daily life is Peter Brugal the Younger's "Haymaking" which showed normal citizens of the north carrying out normal, everyday tasks. However, both renaissances had similar ideas about what their art should look like. Before the renaissance, pieces like Giotto's "Madonna and Child" saw bad perspective, realism and detail. However, pieces like Michelangeo's "David" prove that the renaissance in both parts of Europe focused on improving perspective, painting more secular subjects, and adding more detail. Humanists of both areas believed in Individualism, which was predominant in many other paintings, such as the Mona Lisa. Finally, both renaissances still included religious themes in their artwork, because though reform was wanted, religion was still a large part of daily life. While the Italian renaissance spread change northward to inspire the Northern humanists, both events had their differences that showed in their art, while keeping the same core humanist



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