Renaissance-Baroque Intro/Overview

Secrets of the Dead: The Black Death [PBS]

Italian Painting of the Later Middle Ages

Roman Painting

The Rediscovery of Classical Antiquity

Architecture in Renaissance Italy

Renaissance Drawings

Anatomy in the Renaissance

The Nude in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Portraiture in Renaissance and Baroque Painting

Sienese Painting

Dutch and Flemish Artists in Rome


Northern Mannerism in the Early Sixteenth Century

From PBS' Secrets of the Dead:
No one knows exactly why, but in the late 1320s or early 1330s, bubonic plague broke out in China's Gobi desert. Spread by flea-infested rats, it didn't take long for the disease to reach Europe. In October of 1347, a Genoese ship fleet returning from the Black Sea -- a key trade link with China -- landed in Messina, Sicily. Most of those on board were already dead, and the ships were ordered out of harbor. But it was too late. The town was soon overcome with pestilence, and from there, the disease quickly spread north along trade routes -- through Italy and across the European continent. By the following spring, it had reached as far north as England, and within five years, it had killed 25 million people -- one-third of the European population. Click here for the rest of this article.

Some scholars believe that this profound experience (on so many levels - psychological, economical, practical, religious, &c., may be what helped transition Europe into the more Humanistic and empirically-minded Renaissance. Renaissance is French for re-birth, and we have a re-birth of Classical antiquity in this period - Classical literature, philosophy (with an emphasis on Humanism), and art. Humanism is very simply a belief in humankind's abilities to solve our problems. As the Black Plague (so named because of the black lesions on the skin), left the survivors feeling foresaken by their Christian god, Humanism seemed a clear-headed antedote to what now may have seemed to some like the superstitious practices of previous centuries.

Madonna Enthroned Cimabue, 1285-1286.
Cenni di Pepo (Giovanni) Cimabue, c. 1240- c. 1302, also known as Bencivieni Di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto Di Giuseppe.

Madonna Enthroned, also The Ognissanti Madonna Giotto, c. 1305-1306. Giotto di Bondone, c. 1267–1337.

At the start of the fourteenth century, elements of Gothic style began to appear in Italian painting. By mid-century, a surge of artistic output concentrated in central Italy integrated new ideals into earlier modes of depiction. Over time, figures became increasingly naturalistic, the linear and angular quality of garment drapery softening somewhat as well.

At the end of the thirteenth century and beginning of the fourteenth, two great masters appeared who changed the course of painting: the Florentine Giotto di Bondone (1266/76–1337) and the Roman Pietro Cavallini (ca. 1240–after ca. 1330). Giotto's figures are volumetric rather than linear, and the emotions they express are varied and convincingly human rather than stylized. He created a new kind of pictorial space with an almost measurable depth. With Giotto, the flat world of thirteenth-century Italian painting was transformed into an analogue for the real world, for which reason he is considered the father of modern European painting. Among the most exceptional artists who painted during his day were Taddeo Gaddi, Maso di Banco, Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti, and Simone Martini. Simone Martini added an elegance and refinement to the spare form of Giotto's art. [MMA]

The Arnolfini Wedding by Jan van Eyck, 1426. Jan van Eyck, c. 1385-1441. More info on Jan van Eyck can be found here.

American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930.

Madonna and Child, Simone de Martini, c. 1326.

Creation and Expulsion Scenes, Simone de Giovanni de Paolo, 1445.

This masterpiece of Sienese painting presents a vision of Paradise reminiscent of that described by the great Florentine poet Dante in The Divine Comedy. The universe is shown as a celestial globe, with the earth at the center surrounded by a series of concentric circles representing first the four elements, then the known planets (including the sun, in accordance with medieval and Renaissance cosmology), and finally the constellations of the zodiac. Presiding over the scene of Creation is God the Father, bathed in a glowing celestial light as he is borne aloft by seraphim. Beside the mappamondo (map of the world) is the garden of Paradise, its four rivers issuing from the ground at the lower right. The garden's effulgent flora symbolize the pure and sinless state of man before the Fall. A diminutive Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden by a lithe angel whose unusual nakedness and human form may symbolize his deep compassion for the corrupted state of humankind after the fall from grace. [MMA]

David, Donatello, 1440s. Donatello, born Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, c. 1386-1466

David, Donatello, 1440s.

Mary Magdalen, Donatello, 1455.

Clam Digger, Willem de Kooning, 1972.

The Annunciation, Hans Memling, 1480-89.

The Annunciation, Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1486.

Venus and Mars, Sandro Botticelli, 1483.

Venus and Mars, Piero di Cosimo, c. 1510.

Piero di Cosimo also known as Piero di Lorenzo, 1462–1522.

The Death of Procris, Piero di Cosimo, c. 1500.

This and Venus and Mars may have formed part of a mythological cycle. For its time, these are eccentric paintings, because Piero had a tendency to paint landscapes as predominant features in his compositions. Note the atmospheric perspective - lighter colors and softer focus in the background, which reflects Leonardo's new theories of color. In the myth we see Procris, killed by mistake, while out hunting.

Hunting Scene, Piero di Cosimo, 1490.

Simonetta Vespucci (as Cleopatra), Piero di Cosimo, c. 1480.

Leonardo's Self-Portrait, 1512.

Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo from Vinci), 1452-1519. Leonardo's last name was very probably di Ser Piero, as he was the illegitimate son of a notary by that name. There is no such person as "da Vinci", and the artists of the Renaissance are generally referred to by either first name (Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael) or nickname (Botticelli, Cimabue, &c.).

David, Andrea del Verrocchio, 1467.

Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (La Joconde), Leonardo, 1503-1507.

The Archaic Smile

Leonardo's drawing of a womb, c. 1508.

The Vitruvian Man, Leonardo, c. 1492.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a revered Roman architect of the 1st century BCE, was most noted as the author of De Architectura, written c. 27 BCE.

The Madonna of the Rocks, Leonardo, 1503-1506.

The Annunciation, Leonardo, 1472-1475.

The Last Supper, Leonardo, 1494-1498.

David by Michelangelo, 1501-1504. Michelangelo's dates are 1475-1564.

The Pieta, Michelangelo, 1499 (he was 24 years old).

Moses, Michelangelo, 1513-1515.

Dying Slave, Michelangelo, 1513-1516.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Michelangelo, 1508-1512.


The Temptation of Adam

Libyan Sybil

Libyan Sybil, drawing (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-1541.

Detail of above - Michelangelo's self-portrait as St. Bartholomew.

Christ Carrying the Cross, El Greco (1541-1614), 1580.

The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley, Thomas Hart Benton, 1934.

The Marriage of the Virgin, Raphael, 1504. Raphael's dates are 1483-1520.

Madonna dell Granduca, c. 1505.

Composition, Piet Mondrian, 1930.

St. George and the Dragon, Raphael, c. 1504.

Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, Jacques Louis David, c. 1800.

The Triumph of Galatea, Raphael, 1512.

The Triumph of Galatea, Raphael, 1512.

The Annunciation, Titian, 1559-1564. Titian's dates are 1485-1576.

Bacchus and Ariadne, Titian, 1520-1523.

Laocoon and His Sons, Hellenistic Greek, early 1st century, in Vatican Museums, Rome, by Athanadoros, Hagesandros, and Polydoros of Rhodes

The Sacred and the Profane, Titian, 1514.

Venus of Urbino, Titian, 1538.

Venus and the Lute Player, Titian, 1565-70.

Olympia, Edouard Manet, 1863.

Susanna and the Elders, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1610. Gentileschi's dates are 1597-1656.

Judith Beheading Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1620.

Judith Beheading Halofernes, Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio (1571-1610), c. 1598.

Huge new churches and palazzi were being built in Rome in the decades of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and paintings were needed to fill them. The Counter-Reformation Church searched for authentic religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate. Caravaggio's novelty was a radical naturalism which combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, approach to chiaroscuro, the use of very dramatic light and shadow. chiaro = light, scuro = shadow. Obscuris in Latin means darkness, it's where the word obscure comes from, meaning vague (un-en-lightened).

The Crucifiction of Saint Peter, Caravaggio, 1601.