Art History: Renaissance

Welcome to our series on art history! From the mysterious Middle Ages, we now come forward to experience the world of art from the Renaissance period. Let’s see how history influences art significantly at this time.

The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo

The Classical Era

Imagine you are walking down a path on the famous Parthenon. Sun paintings waving from behind giant pillars as decorative stone buildings that glitter with charming colors.

We can only look back at this Greco-Roman period in incredible amazement because this is still one of the most important periods that influenced the history of art.

During its heyday, around the 15th century, the Renaissance era lived at a time when the latest developments in Europe emerged in the fields of art, science, and philosophy. Although artists naturally glorify the ancient beauty, the new revival era penetrated into creative arts, influencing the best scientists, poets and artists of the time.

Birth of Venus by Botticelli

But to truly appreciate this era, before we had to go backwards. So let’s look at the most valuable contribution of this period to the art world today.

Painting & Drawing

If you glance at the museum walls today, you will find an abundance of Renaissance paintings that embellish them in an enigmatic style.

After oil was introduced as a new tool in art in Italy, artists created paintings that were so detailed that focused on capturing realistic subjects in their most natural forms. They use light to create great drama, and new theories developed from architecture bring artists to use linear perspectives in their work.

The Presentation of the Virgin by Paulo Uccello.

This period also witnessed an extraordinary development in the overall understanding of human form, as well-known artist Leonardo da Vindi who tirelessly worked to study and record it through careful observation.

These observations will then become one of the most recognizable works in art history today. For example, The Vitruvian Man, is a drawing with a pen and ink that perfectly shows his understanding of mathematics and art by paying attention to the relationship of special proportions to create an ideal human form.

The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.

Known as the archetype of the “Renaissance Man” himself, Leonardo continued his work by creating The Last Supper, Mona Lisa and other extraordinary works that reflect his in-depth research on light and color.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

His discoveries, together with the work of other great artists, became the foundation of what we know today as Renaissance-style paintings.


No less with his older brother Leonardo, Michaelangelo is another multi-talented artist who emerged during the Renaissance period.

One of his most famous works, the Statue of David, continues to live as a sign of the height of Renaissance sculpture. At only 26 years old, young Michaelangelo convinced the Florence Operai to allow him to work on a contract that would take two years to complete.

Statue of David by Michaelangelo

The end result for the statue, a man standing upright carved from a large marble block, which highlights the Biblical hero by standing contrapposto classic and sturdy, displaying youth.

More statues were commissioned at this time, because the government at that time beautified its historic city with great public sculptures and rich people beautifying their homes.

Woman by Francesco Laurana

As a result the portrait sculpture became famous. Often made as small sculptures to chests or metal plates, the subjects are usually women, distinguished men, or young people.

Medal of John VIII Palaeologus by Pisanello

Decorative Arts

As Europe grew, the middle class continued to grow and go along with this growth, European cities witnessed the rapid flow of art into the centers and in homes.

There is no price that is too expensive for rich people. Value is even more valued than creative imagination and mastery of expertise by the unique vision of the assigned artist.

Renaissance hope box. Image by Luis Garcia .

Secular-based art objects are often created to decorate these luxurious Italian Renaissance houses. And because important events in life such as child birth and marriage are celebrated on a large scale, such objects are made to honor those moments.

The elaborate birth tray, otherwise known as “desco da partos,” was made to commemorate the successful birth of a child. Meanwhile, intricate luxury furniture usually consists of wooden designs made by hand and rich in style.

Desco da parto Renaissance. Image from Wikipedia.


The Renaissance period was a time of great discovery and self-awareness through art, history and science. The wide range of culture and its influence is a true legacy of the evolution of art and I hope you yourself continue to learn more about this amazing timeline.

For more great stories about the history of art from the Renaissance period, dig deeper from the following links for further reading. And join me next month when we talk about North American Natives.


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