Italy, the late 13th century, it is the Middle Ages through Europe, and there is a movement stirring….
It all started with the movement we now refer to as the “proto-Renaissance” wherein Italian artists, theorists and scholars reignited the ideas and foundations of the artworks of classical antiquity. The traditions of ancient Greece and classical Rome were used as the springboard and melded with the contemporary application of science and technology through Europe.
This movement expanded and developed throughout the 14th century through to the early 16th century; following along with the emerging political stability of the area and the advancements in science as well as a new found appreciation for the more romantic pursuits of literature, philosophy and art; all this was fused with the idea of the individual’s plight and placement amongst the beauty of the natural world, especially when pressed against progress.
The most famous protagonists of the Renaissance movement are da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo, the technique of painting with oils directly onto canvas and later, plaster can be accredited to this movement, specifically to Netherlandish artists such as Jan Van Eyck.
“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo’s “David” are two of the most famous works from the period. Both have their subjects taken directly from the Bible however each work was presented in an enlightened way and each has transcended the bounds of Biblical constraint to become iconic in a much wider sense. “David” was even removed from its display in a cathedral and repositioned in a public square to be seen by all citizens of Florence, making a broad political statement to the ruling Medici family. “David” remains a strong symbol of liberty and the republican ideals of Florence.
Of course we couldn’t leave out da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” who is perhaps the epitome of the Renaissance movement. Named after the Roman architect Vitruvius who originally detailed the geometry of the human proportions it encapsulates the ethos of the movement blending art, science and nature seamlessly.