Renaissance man, humanism (glorification of the human form), secularism (separation
from the church).
Breakaway from a solid religious faith in Italy and northern areas. Strong respect for
science, math and the more rational side of academics. There is a new questioning of
why things are the way they are.
This led to new techniques being experimented with to go with these new surges of
ideas. Greek and Roman classical period was seen as a high period, the Renaissance
saw this as a high period to follow. Intense interest in the natural world and what they
Limbourg Brothers, Tres Riches Heures du Luc de Berry, 1411-16. Detail, September:
This would be seen as a family heirloom, would be passed down. Used for meditation,
religious purposes, but would be on view so people could see. Book of heures is made
up of 12 pages, one for every day of the year. There are prayers and citations included.
Generally these books were commissioned by the upper classes. First time figures cast
shadows. Realistic detail is a paramount here, artist is interested in conveying exactly
what was observed. All made with ink or color on a parchment. First snow skate in
western art. Strong sense of class distinction (main woman is raising her dress slightly,
peasants are lifting their clothing to show genitals). Typical renaissance feature is the
high horizon line.
Jan van Eyck, Double Portrait or Arnolfini Portrait, 1434: A growing middle class that you
don’t see in Italy at this time period. The artists of the Northern Renaissance observed
and were interested in space. It is believed the man is a cloth merchant in the Arnolfini
family. The room is lit by a light source coming from the window, which gives a sense of
space. Northern painters developed a way of painting with oil paints, which comes into
play in the 15th century. In the North we see a great deal of symbolic elements in
paintings. Almost each item in a room has some sort of significance or symbolism to it.
Different type of subject matter than in the past. The items in the painting show the
wealth of the couple. Elaborate bed hangings, small oriental carpet, and an ornamental
style dog (symbol of loyalty), all these are a sign of wealth. Large mirror that would have
been sought after as a decoration in a home. In the middle of this mirror the backs of
the couple are seen, and two people in the doorway (one is believed to be the artist).
His name is also painted graffiti style above the mirror. Very soft glow from the oil paint.
Hugo van der Goes, Portinari Altarpiece (open), c. 1474-6: It is oil on panel. Called a
triptych (three panels), commissioned by a family for their family chapel. Center panel
depicts Mary and Joseph with the new born Jesus. Angel is announcing to the
Shepherds that the Christ child has been born. Vase with flowers in it, symbolizes Mary as a pure vessel. Vessel is impregnated with light, a divine light. Wheat is behind the
vase, represents the bread of the eucharist. More of a tension in terms of expressions.
Desire to capture human emotion in a new way, new psychological expressions. Side
panels are the people who commissioned the piece, hoping to get some benefit out of
this. Very realistic portraits here, real sense of childness in the children (chubby faces
and fingers). This piece influenced Italian painters a great deal. By the 16th century
Italian pieces become more popular.
Development of woodcuts and engravings. Taking over the hand drawing of
manuscripts. Engraving came out of metal work, they used techniques gold smiths had
already been using called intaglio (lines carved into metal and then transferred to the
Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Battle of the Nudes, c. 1465-1470: One of the most significant
prints from the Renaissance. Depicts five men with headbands, five men without,
fighting before a forest. The focus of this work is the figures. Two central nudes
correspond to one another. Style is plasticizing, although their expression are much
stronger and more twisted than in Greek sculpture. Wanted to understand the
proportions of the body, and how they move and can be displayed in art. This desire for
imitating nature was called natura naturata (the created world).
Ruling power in the hands of wealthy families. In the 15th century in It