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03 Early Renaissance in Italy

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ART 102 Gardners - Chapter 21Jean ThobabenInstructor

HUMANISM AND THE ALLURE OF ANTIQUITY15TH CENTURY ITALIAN ARTTHE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALYEARLY ITALIAN RENAISSANCEFirenziaMantuaTHE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALYRomaVenezia1TITLE PAGE2 A new artistic culture emerged and expanded in Italy in the 15th century.Humanism also fostered a belief in individual potential and encouraged individual achievement. Humanism also encouraged citizens to participate in the social, political, and economic life of their communities. Shifting power relations among the numerous Italian city-states fostered the rise of princely courts and control of cities by despots. Princely courts emerged as cultural and artistic centers.Their patronage contributed to the formation and character of Renaissance art. 3RenaissanceThe Italian Renaissance is divided into three phases for study:The Early Renaissance in the early and mid 1400s.The High Renaissance in the late 1400s-early 1500s.And Mannerism in the mid to late 1500s.4

The Early Renaissance in Italy5FlorenceRenaissance means rebirth.Artistic leaders lived in Florence which was dominated by the Medici a powerful family who were great patrons of the arts.Florentine artists, fueled by a renewed interest in ancient Greece and Rome as well as science and math, created a New Athens.

6This imposing object, a commemorative birth tray (desco da parto), was commissioned to celebrate the birth of Lorenzo de' Medici, known to posterity as Lorenzo the Magnificent (14491492). Lorenzo was the most celebrated ruler of his day as well as an important poet patron of the arts; his name is synonymous with the Renaissance.

The Triumph of Fame - Impresa of the Medici Family and Arms of the Medici and Tornabuoni FamiliesGiovanni di ser Giovanni, ca. 1449, Tempera, silver, and gold on wood Dimensions: Overall, with engaged frame, diameter 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm); recto, painted surface, diameter 24 5/8 in. (62.5 cm); verso, painted surface, diameter 29 5/8 in. (75.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art7The tradition of commissioning circular trays to commemorate a birth derived from the custom of presenting sweet-meats to the new mother. Painted by the younger brother of Masaccio,this is an object of unique historical importance.It was kept by Lorenzo in his private quarters in the Medici palace in Florence.

The Triumph of Fame; (reverse) Impresa of the Medici Family and Arms of the Medici and Tornabuoni Families, Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi (called Scheggia), Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.8

9Sculpture and Civic Pride in the Early Renaissance

The republic of Florence cultivated civic pride and responsibility resulting in competitions to embellish the city's buildings. The competitive nature of these projects, which were usually sponsored by civic or lay-religious organizations, promoted innovation and signaled official approval of the new, classically inspired style.The emulation of antique models, however, was also supplemented by a growing interest in the anatomical structure of the human body and the desire to show a naturalistic illusion of space.

10The Gates of ParadiseOne such competition was to create the doors to the baptistry at the Cathedral of Florence.Artists submitted brass relief panels on the subject the Sacrifice of Isaac.The following panels were submitted for the competition.11 Filippo Brunelleschi's competition panel shows a sturdy and vigorous interpretation of the Sacrifice of Isaac.

Brunelleschi 1401-1402. Gilded bronze relief, 21" x 17". Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. 12

Lorenzo Ghiberti's competition panel emphasizes grace and smoothness.

Ghiberti1401-1402. Gilded bronze relief21" x 17Museo Nazionale del Bargello Florence. 13 Lorenzo Ghiberti (1381-1455) won the competition.His "Gates of Paradise" are comprised of ten gilded bronze relief panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

View of the completed doors on the Baptistry, in Florence14In Isaac and His Sons, Ghiberti creates the illusion of space using perspective and sculptural means. Ghiberti also persists in using the medieval narrative method of presenting several episodes within a single frame.


Detail: Isaac and His Sons, 1425-1452. Gilded bronze relief, approx. 31 1/2" x 31 1/2.16

Creation of Adam (detail of a panel from the eastern door) 1425-52Bronze, Baptistry, Florence17

Killing of Abel (detail of a panel from the eastern door)1425-52, BronzeBaptistry, Florence18Donatello (1386-1466)Donato di Niccol di Betto Bardi, universally known as Donatello, was born in Florence around 1386 and died there in 1466. The powerful expressive qualities of his work made him the greatest sculptor of the early Renaissance. Donatello's early works, still partly Gothic in style, are the impressive seated marble figure of St John the Evangelist for the cathedral faade and a wooden crucifix in the church of Santa Croce. The latter, according to an unproved anecdote, was made in friendly competition with Brunelleschi, a sculptor and an architect.

19The wooden Crucifix in the Church of Santa Croce is attributed to Donatello, although this attribution is not shared by all art historians. The dating of this work is also controversial. Some scholars consider it as one of the first sculptures by Donatello while others think it was made around 1425. The study of the iconography suggests the date 1412-13.

Brunelleschi hated the intensely life-like face of the dead Christ and accused Donatello of having, in Vasari's words, crucified a peasantThe work reflects Donatello's creative force, his search for new forms of expression and liberation from established rules.

Crucifix, 1412-13Wood, 168 x 173 cmChurch of Santa Croce, Florence20Donatellos St John which, together with the other Evangelists by Nanni di Banco, Niccolo Lamberti and Bernardo Ciuffagni, were to be placed on the facade of Santa Maria del Fiore in the tabernacle at the side of the central door.

This statue, of St. John, which was commissioned by the Opera del Duomo but executed much later - the payments go from 1413 to 1415 - almost seems to anticipate the works of Michelangelo. Particularly remarkable are the saint's acute and penetrating expression, and the realistic treatment of his open hand on the book.

St John the Evangelist,1410-11Marble, height: 210 cm,Museo dell'Opera del DuomoFlorence21The full power of Donatello first appeared in two marble statues, St Mark and St George (both completed c. 1415), for niches on the exterior of Or San Michele, the church of Florentine guilds. The niches on the exterior of were each assigned to a specific guild for decoration with a sculpture of its patron saint.

The armored Saint George by Donatello was the patron of the guild of armorers and sword makers.

View of the niches on Or San Michele22The figure stands with bold firmness.The carved relief sculpture at the base of the niche depicts St. George slaying the dragon.

Donatello, Saint George, from Or San Michele, Florence, Italy, 1415-1417. Marble (replaced in niche by a bronze copy), approx. 6' 10" high. Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. 23Nanni di Banco's (1380-1421) group, the Quattro Santi Coronati, shows an early attempt to solve the problem of integrating figures and space on a monumental scale. Nanni created a unified spatial composition. The figures also exhibit a psychological unity. Their heads were inspired by Roman portrait busts.

Quattro Santi Coronati, Or San Michele, Florence, Italy, ca. 1408-1414. 24 A sense of motion is conveyed in Donatello's Saint Mark by the weight-shifted stance of the figure. The saint's drapery also falls naturally and implies a body underneath.

Donatello, Saint MarkOr San Michele, Florence, Italy, 1411-1413. Marble, approx. 7' 9" high. 25The same qualities came increasingly to the fore in a series of five prophet statues that Donatello did beginning in 1416 for the niches of the campanile, the bell tower of the cathedral. The statues were of a beardless and a bearded prophet, as well as a group of Abraham and Isaac (1416-21) for the eastern niches; the so-called Zuccone ("pumpkin," because of its bald head); and Jeremiah for the western niches.26Donatello's unconventional statue of Zuccone is powerfully and realistically characterized. His face is individualized and discloses a fierce personality.

Prophet figure Zuccone, from the campanile of the Florence Cathedral, Italy, 1423-1425. Marble, approx. 6' 5" high. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence.

27During his partnership with the architect, Michelozzo, Donatello carried out independent commissions of pure sculpture.the bronze David, well-proportioned and superbly poised, was conceived independently of any architectural setting. Its harmonious calm makes it the most classical of Donatello's works. 28Donatello's bronze statue David is the first freestanding nude bronze since ancient times. The biblical David was a symbol of the independent Florentine republic. The figure stands in a relaxed classical contrapposto position.

David, ca. 14281432. Bronze, 5' 21/4" high. Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence.29

Details: David30

Lets take another look.

Now lets take a look at another interpretation by a contemporary of Donatellos.31Compare Donatellos David to this version by Andrea del Verocchio.Verrocchio's bronze David is given a strong narrative realism.The jaunty, adolescent figure stands with relaxed ease.

Verrocchio, David, ca. 14651470. Bronze, approx. 4' 1 1/2" high. Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. Andrea del Verocchio (1435-1488)32In 1443, Donatello was lured to Padua by a commission for a bronze equestrian statue of a famous Venetian condottiere

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