What is Renaissance art? Period and definition

Renaissance art is currently one of the most outstanding, not only for the famous artists who appeared at that time but also for the works of art they left us. So this may be one of the best-known types of art today.

In the   Renaissance they want to be reborn from the “ancient” traditions, from venerated Greece and classical Italy. Artists modifying this classicism so that it can absorb modern developments, with the help of scientific knowledge. The artist becomes aware of the individual, whom he studies both psychologically and physically, respecting classical models. Humanism developed and with it the conception that man was the most important thing. Inventors and scientists are lavished. Among the great characters that emerge at this time, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Sandro Botticelli and Raphael, among many others, stand out.

Keywords:  the Renaissance , the Renaissance period, characteristics of the Renaissance.

What was the Renaissance?

The term renaissance refers to the artistic period that began in the Modern Age and arose from the work of Giorgio Vasari “Life of famous architects, sculptors and painters” that was brought to light in 1570 but it was not until the 19th century when the term gets an artistic-historical interpretation.

The Renaissance arose in the city of Florence, and was a consequence of the progressive opening of cities to commerce, where new social groups known as bourgeois were born who invested their capital in the purchase of works of art. This allowed the man of the time to begin to put aside the theocentrism that put him at the full service of God to go on to observe nature, everything around him and, especially, himself. That is why, in the Renaissance, the artistic traditions that existed in the Middle Ages were broken. According to the artists of the Renaissancethey describe these artistic traditions with much contempt and addressing them as an art made by goths and barbarians. With the same thought, he also confronts contemporary art that existed in Northern Europe. From the point of life of artistic development in general that Europe finds, the Renaissance meant a break with the stylistic entity that until that moment was supranational.

In the Renaissance , the great geniuses emerged, the artist worked alone, with more creative freedom, and they enjoyed more social consideration, not only for being artisans, but also becoming inventors. Likewise, the great families of the different states of Italy were the protectors of these artists, and they fought over the work with greater splendor, which they commissioned the great geniuses. Florence was one of the first Italian cities where humanistic thought emerged. Both the Medicis who were the patrons of the Renaissance artists in Florence, and the Popes who were in Rome, helped to revive this era.

Add words: what was the rebirth , period of the rebirth , increase characteristics of the rebirth.

The Renaissance as a cultural movement

As a cultural movement, the Renaissance encompasses a rebellion based on classical learning, the development of the linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation took place in the Renaissance as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as in social and political turmoil, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of great geniuses such as: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term “Man of the Renaissance ” .


In the Renaissancescholars employ the humanistic method in study and seek realism and human emotion in art. Therefore, Humanism was not a philosophy per se, but rather a method of learning. In contrast to the medieval scholastic method, which focused on resolving contradictions between authors, humanists studied the ancient texts in the original, usually written in Ancient Greek or Latin, and made the assessment through a combination of reasoning and evidence. empirical. Scholars scoured the monastic libraries of Europe, looking for works of classical antiquity that had been forgotten. Likewise, Poggio Bracciolini, was credited with the discovery of the complete works of fifteen different authors, appearing among them, the work of Vitruvio on art and architecture,

On the other hand, in such texts was found the desire to improve and perfect worldly knowledge. A completely different sentiment to spirituality stressed by medieval Christianity. In this sense, Humanist Education is based on the study of poetry, grammar, ethics and rhetoric. Above all, humanists affirm “the genius of man; the extraordinary capacity of the human mind. ” Therefore, they do not reject Christianity, on the contrary, many of the greatest works of the Renaissance were dedicated to it, and the church had sponsored many works of Renaissance art. However, a subtle change took place in the way intellectuals approached religion that is reflected in many other areas of cultural life.

Renaissance Characteristics

To understand a little more the art of the Renaissance   we have to know the characteristics that this era had. Here is a summary of some of the most important.

-Classical culture was recovered, that is, Roman and Greek culture.

-A conception of human beings appeared, anthropocentrism.

– Beauty was sought in symmetry, perspective, human proportion as the basis of all structures. As well as, the balance of the forms, and the measure of the expressions were sought.

-The tradists demonstrated and the humanists also demonstrated, the latter dedicated themselves to different cultural media.

-A new characteristic appeared, which had as its fundamental objective, the renewal that was related to all the structures of the Churches.

-A very important characteristic of the Renaissance and that can be considered to be above all others, is that the human body recovers its importance.

-Imitation was created in sculpture and architecture made in Rome and Greece.

-We sought to make representations of an ideal beauty.

-The balance, harmony and tranquility are sought to create a harmonic work.

-Works were created whose perfection and clarity were directed by universal reason.

-His main interest was the human body and in particular, the nude.

-The Renaissance was considered realistic since the works created were carried out with the utmost care and with the maximum possible reality.

-The paintings were created with a geometric view and an illusion of depth was sought.

-The free sculpture was recovered and among the main materials used, marble and bronze stand out.

-Mythological themes were recovered and although to a lesser extent than in the Gothic, we also found religious themes.

-A figure of the patron who sponsored the works, promoting art, also appeared.

-An art appeared that produced the breakdown of formal canons and new methods of expression were sought, Mannerism was born, which was characterized by the distortion of the figures, the creation of unreal spaces and the use of very light or very vivid colors.

With these characteristics society changed and becomes materialistic, more interested in objectivity and has a capitalist point of view and the development of cities.

Renaissance periods

There are two different periods of rebirth that marked its development, these are:

The Quattrocento

This period originates from the XV century and mainly covers the Renaissanceprimary that starts in Italy. In this period a new language is sought, civil architecture acquires great importance, looking for rational and organized spaces with essential rules, such as an organized distribution of public spaces. Therefore, residential areas, shopping malls, and palaces are no longer conceived as fortresses, giving a new image to the new citizen power. The decoration of the facades is based on the use of padding, which are ashlars with recessed edges, and purely architectural elements with a classic touch are used. One of the most notable examples is the Medici-Ricardi Palace in Florence, built by Michelozzo in 1444. Other important works are those of Brunelleschi, of the “Church of San Lorenzo”, the “Church of Santo Spirito”, the “Palacio Pitti ” and the “Pazzi Chapel”. Similarly, the great masters of the Quattrocento were Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti.


This period was established in the 15th century in Florence, which was the creative and diffusing center of Renaissance architecture, and in the 16th century, Rome was to become the center of culture. Popes Julius II and Leo X became great patrons, and artists go to Rome attracted by their rich classical past. In these two periods, artists appeared whose works became famous throughout the centuries. For this reason, it is very important to differentiate one stage from the other and the artists at each stage. In this period, artists such as Sangallo, architect of the Palacio Franesio, the model of the Cinquecento Palace with which we are approaching what will be the Baroque palaces, more aesthetic, more ornamental and less defensive, emerge.

Palladio, for his part, seeks perspective in his constructions, creating recreational villas close to cities. Likewise, Bramante gathers previous theoretical and practical advances, achieving a harmonious, balanced style, with a sense of rhythm and proportion, and is characterized by architectural simplicity and classicism. However, Michelangelo is the great artist who breaks with classical principles, creating a personal style. Vignola and Della Porta belong to the Jesuit order, chronologically they belong to the Renaissance , but their constructions are Baroque, being the architects of the Gesú Church, whose facade corresponds to Della Porta and the interior to Vignola.

Renaissance architecture

In the Renaissance Architecture , the Roman and Greek structures are represented again, their main elements are:

-The concern for perfection and balance.

-The columns and pilasters begin again.

-The semicircular arches were built.

-The domes were created, which were decorated by cassettes.

-The barrel vaults also carried the casetones.

-The Greek pediment arises again.

Characteristics of Sculpture in the Renaissance

The main characteristics that can be observed in the sculpture of the Renaissance are:

-The extreme interest in proportions.

-The search for a new vision: The beauty that was always wanted to achieve in the naked body.

-A new interest emerged: to represent hidden passions.

-The human body was given a new value.

-Equally, a new value was given to equestrian sculpture.

-Mythological and profane themes are re-created.

-The outstanding artists of Renaissance sculpture are: Ghibarti, Michelangelo and Donatello.

Painting in the Renaissance

In Renaissance   painting we will not see any reference to Roman painting since it starts from scratch. Its main characteristics are:

-Three-dimensional works are created, that is, volume, color and light.

-The painting has a linear and aerial vision.

-The most used technique was oil painting.

-They used to represent human, mythological and religious themes.

-Architectural funds were introduced.

-The outstanding artists in Renaissance   painting are: Frangelico, Botticelli, Rafael, Alberto Durero and Doménico Theotocopoulos.

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