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Medieval Vs. Renaissance Art

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Art during the Italian Renaissance differed from art during the Middle Ages. The two have contrasting characteristics and concepts. To the people in the medieval world, religion was their life. Everything in daily life focused around the church and God (Modern World 164). Medieval culture influenced the arts; this was evident in the religious themes. During the Italian Renaissance, painters and other artists focused on the portrayal of a more humanistic way of life. Renaissance artists' work portrayed realism with "lifelike human figures in their paintings" (Modern World 164). Renaissance artists wanted to express ancient Greek and Roman cultures in their work (Modern World 162). Italian Renaissance art offered the world a new way to view human reason and development.

During the Middle Ages, religion played an immense role in art. Medieval paintings focused around the idea of worshipping God. The church influenced many of the medieval artists making these religious masterpieces (World Book 527). Medieval paintings were unrealistic and did not portray lifelike figures. There was no depth and the backgrounds were typically gold. The central figures in paintings were painted larger than the less significant objects. Painters wanted their creations to focus on a deep religious meaning and strengthen the church through the paintings (World Book 234). The Holy Land and the Roman Catholic Church were the central landscapes in medieval paintings. There were an extensive variety of mediums used by the artists. Examples included frescos, stained glass, and murals (End of Europe's Middle Ages). Sculpture was another form of art. "Statues of the holy family, saints, and rulers lined the inside of Gothic churches, and relief sculptures adorned the walls" (Modern World 142). Much of the medieval artistic expertise went into the creation of Gothic churches in devotion to God (End of Europe's Middle Ages).

In contrast, the Renaissance period occurred from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. During this period in Italy, art prospered greatly leaving an incredible mark in world history. Renaissance is another word for "rebirth." Some of art history's most recognized paintings were created during the era of the Italian Renaissance (Modern World 162). Paintings became more lifelike and realistic. During the Renaissance, a form of painting, called linear perspective, was created:

Linear perspective is a mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. Linear perspective was first used in Florence, Italy in the 1400s by Brunelleschi, an artist and architect. However, the first person to write the rules down was Leon Battista Alberti. Many artists have developed a concept of Alberti's system for artists to follow. Leonardo da Vinci probably learned Alberti's system while serving as an apprentice to the artist Verrocchio



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