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2nd half Printing & Renaissance Art

Course Code
Nicholas Terpstra

of 4
Early Modern Europe Tuesday Oct 12
Cont from last Week
Printing - Cultural Consequences
Notion of scholarship, or comparative scholarship.
Vernacular languages, which were not developed with literatures and
grammars before print, begins to have that structure.
The more books, the larger the audience grows, which leads to growth of
Also leads to a higher experience of cultural involvement. Idea's are now
spread socially and culturally, as a broader range of people (i.e. middle class)
has access to printed material.
This in turn can be considered a leading cause of the Reformation.
This also leads to the question of what is it to have authority, before
illiteracy did not effect ones hold on power, however after printing to be
illiterate is to be essentially without cultural authority.
Transition from an oral to a literate culture.
With the spreading of ideas, there is the development of organized
censorship. Early on efforts are made at censorship of books, and printing.
One of the first examples is Henry XIII of England, who is attempting to
control religious dissent.
Even in some cases there is an attempt to completely cull the use and
existence of presses.
Also a great deal of effort from the Catholic church to control religious
dissent, including their own publishing of the index (1542) a list of
published work that cannot be sold or read by any Catholic (which
continues into the 1960s)
Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture
Medieval artwork was made with no attempt at creating or depicting an
actual space, the point was to illustrate for example saints, with the point
being that they are watching you.
Comes in part from Byzantine (Greek) motifs.
Space was not meant to be realistic, but "heavenly"
We see these illustrated in such medieval backgrounds as Duccio's
Maesta & St. Marco mosaics in Venice
Ghirlandaio - The Angel appears to Zacharias in the Temple (linear
perspective, classicism, naturalism)
note that in the actual story Zacharias is alone in the temple,
however in this painting all of the extra people are wealthy patrons
who paid to have themselves painted into the work.
Was done on the walls of a chapel in a church in Florence.
These patron extras are laypeople witnessing a holy event (vs.
saints watching you in the Medieval Maesta).
Also notice the space, classical architecture and style, completely
different from the biblical text.
This is an event, in a time and a place. It is natural, and the poses
of the people are natural.
Ghirlandaio - Zacharias Giving name John to son
Biblical story in a modern setting, reminding the viewer that
these stories are true, are still relevant to the audience and daily life.
Note again the inclusion of patrons, members of the family who
paid of the work.
Linear perspective - how to take a 2d painting surface and make
it look 3d - training the eye to look back with lines and colors. Lines
from the scene coincide at the "back" of the photo in a vanishing
point, which is usually just above the most important aspect of the
Aerial perspective - colors in the foreground are intense, but in
the background are faded and more grayscale.
Note Zacharias is wearing Roman clothes (of the period of the
story) but the "onlookers" (patrons) are wearing modern
Renaissance clothing.
Ghirlandaio - Lords Supper (last supper)
such images would usually be done on walls in refectories
where Nuns and Monks ate.
again the image is an example of lineal space, classicism, and
Veronese - Christ in the House of Levi
Where it is one thing to add a few extra elements, here we see
that the story is removed from it's natural scene, and the art
This got him in some trouble with the church, so they ordered
him to change it. So he changed the title from the Last Supper, to
Christ at the House of Levi.
He is called before the inquisition for this image.
Raphael - School of Athens
Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) which we can tell because
Plato is pointing up (tended to deal with higher issues) and
Aristotle pointing down (dealt with issues of the earth)
Was painted for private apartments of Pope Julius II, and
Raphael painted in himself (far right), Leonardo (Plato), and
Michelangelo (bottom of stairs, hiding what he is working on, a
tendency he was known for.)
Ghirlandaio - Portrait of an Old Man
Another side to Naturalism is showing people with their
flaws, such as the warts in this image, a photo commissioned
by the older man.
Also note the strong emotional context, another element of
Bronze & Sculpture (back to bronze from wood, free-standing,
naturalist/classical, contripasto)
Donatello - David (marble; thin bronze, free standing)
A lot of sculpture at this time was put in a niche, and
therefore viewed only from the front, however they begins a
sense of movement, statues which are meant to be viewed from
360 degrees.
Donatello - Niccolo da Uzzano (classical portrait bust)
note the similarity to busts of Roman emperors or senators.
Niccolo had many of these done in the same style.