The Renaissance represented a revolution in the art of painting. The techniques, subject matter, and achievements of specific artists forever changed the way people painted.
The techniques changed the original aspective, flat medieval works through perspective and naturalism. The study of the human anatomy and physiology increased the naturalism and reality of the painting. The use of oils replaced tempura. Canvas and the easel allowed movement so paintings could be done of nature.
The subject matter changed from religious church art to include secular themes. While artists continued to do Christian paintings for the church, they now also did works of nature or scenes from mythology. Several painters also began portraits since families were wealthier.
Although hundreds of artists lived during this time, only a handful contributed to the art of painting. Giotto was Proto-Renaissance, but he began the idea of perspective. The Quattrocento was really begun by Masaccio. He introduced chiaroscuro with one primary light source, and his study of anatomy and physiology allowed his figures to look like they stood on their feet. Botticelli also impacted the Quattrocento by mastering line in graceful strokes.
The High Renaissance was dominated by the Divine Trio: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Leonardo’s drawings of anatomy and physiology were precise to the minute detail. His greatest works were the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Raphael, known for his sweet-faced Madonnas, gave us the School of Athens which reflected the Renaissance worldview. Michelangelo’s notable work was the glorious ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Two Venetian painters who concluded the High Renaissance were Titian and Tintoretto. Titian used rich colors and led the way into Baroque painting. Tintoretto moved into mannerism.
All of these artists used the new techniques and subjects to revolutionize the art of painting. Today, thousands of art connoisseurs still marvel at the beauty which these artists created.
– Hannah S. Bowers