The Great Artists – Renaissance

The Great Artists – Renaissance

Middle Ages vs Renaissance Art

In the middle ages, art was mostly focused on religious themes – scenes from the Bible and depictions of Jesus and saints. In the Renaissance there was a shift from religious themes to art that depicted everyday life.

Visually, there were many differences between Middle Age and Renaissance art. In the Middle Ages, artists were unable to bring paintings to life and make them appear realistic – they had a flat, 2 dimensional appearance. This is because the concepts of proportion and perspective had not yet been developed.


In the 13th-14th century, a Florentine artist, Giotto di Bondone, developed the rule of proportion in painting. Proportion means that everything in a painting is to scale – people are the right size compared to other objects in a painting.


In 1415, Filippo Brunelleschi created the first known perspective drawing/painting. Perspective allows artists to add depth to a picture, giving the appearance of distance on a flat surface.

Renaissance Artists: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was the ideal Renaissance Man – he was a skilled artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist. While training as an apprentice, he became unusually observant of the natural world. da Vinci learned about the natural world through direct observation and experiment. Leonardo da Vinci is credited with being the first to design a helicopter, tank, and a flying machine.

He planned to write a complete textbook on human anatomy, but never finished. All of his notebooks survived and are filled with detailed notes and drawings. However, da Vinci was an eccentric and wrote all of his notes backwards to prevent people from reading his notebooks.

Video on Leonardo:


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonaroti Simoni was born in 1475. He was first a sculptor but he is most famous for his fresco paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. A fresco is a type of painting done on fresh plaster placed on walls and ceilings.

Michelangelo began his apprenticeship at the age of 13. By 25, Michelangelo had made a name for himself as a tallented sculptor. Some of his famous works include the Pieta (1499) and the David (1504).

Video on Michelangelo:

Renaissance Thought – Humanism

Unlike medieval artists, Renaissance artists were humanists – people concerned with the goals of
human beings, not spiritual matters (hence the name, “humanism”)


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