Medieval vs Renaissance Art

There were no notions of real-life techniques and proportion. Figures, which were more prominent, were drawn larger than the others. All figures are motionless, they sit or stand and there are no attempts to depict movement. There is little in the way of nude bodies, erotic scenes and sexual connotations. People were painted with stoic, serious expressions; the lack of emotions was obvious. Pictures were not voluminous; they were flat and stable. The background was painted with one color. Artists used ordinary basic colors. Paintings weren’t very realistic, but the artists did not necessarily want them to be so.

The art was treated as the means of connection with God, and the main purpose of it was to foster the spiritual development of the people. The Early Renaissance starts in Italy in fourteenth century AD due to a number of reasons. According to Jim Lane, perhaps the biggest factor contributing to the rise of the Renaissance was money. He states “when it became economically feasible to enclose an entire city in fortress walls, then those with money could begin to relax and enjoy it, which meant a craving for beauty that meant art. The city of Florence, Italy, is a classic example“(Lane, 1998).

The church was no longer the only institution with the resources to commission works of art. Religion was not able to serve as the only reason for creativity any more. While religious imagery still dominated many works of art during this period, secular and humanistic themes began to emerge as well. People were in the focus of this art period. They were depicted the way they looked in their real life. It was not uncommon for a wealthy merchant to commission a portrait of himself. People were interested in the anatomy of the human body. The knowledge of anatomy was reflected in the new art.

Bodies looked not only real, but attractive for viewers. Most of them were depicted in motion, and appeared much more lifelike. This interest in anatomy precipitated the appearance nude images in paintings and sculpture. An emphasis on natural beauty, and the human form began to emerge. All figures were placed on the canvas considering the perspective. Painters paid attention to light; they started using the technique of shadows and lights in their paintings. Artists were interested in the way people express their emotions and did their best to render the emotional expressions on the faces of people on the paintings.

The same features occurred in sculpture as well. It is obvious that art develops in relation to the prior art periods. Some periods build upon the tone and style of earlier periods, while others strike out in new ways in reaction to the earlier period. There are clear examples of how Renaissance art continued the traditions of medieval art. However, the combinations of new styles, techniques, subjects, and philosophies leads to the conclusion the Renaissance developed in reaction to the medieval era. The Renaissance served as the transitional period between the medieval art and the new period in human history.

The Renaissance brought significant change to the world of art. Artists started creating art for the sake of art, and not necessarily for the sake of god. They created new art forms, and mastered their skills in order to make things look as they are in real life on the canvas. God was not the only point of depiction. The Renaissance Art is much closer to the conception of art which is common now. It uses mixed colors, shades, real sizes, and perspective. Unlike Renaissance art, medieval art is more primitive. The pieces of art were representations of crucial spiritual content.

These differences are best explained by examining a few examples. For instance, the medieval Virgin Mary is rather specific (Duccio, 1300). She is depicted only with the upper part of her body. She holds the infant in her arms. Her face is cold and reserved. The background is static. All objects are two-dimensional; there is no volume or change in colors. The picture lacks dynamics. At the same time, it is a classical representation of Virgin Mary. It was created for the purpose of religious worship. The Virgin Mary is the main figure at the picture.

In this respect, the infant on her hands is smaller than he should be in reality. Madonna is the representation of Virgin Mary in Renaissance art. Madonna Litta by da Vinci (1490) shows the tendencies of how the art developed. First of all, both Madonna and her child look lifelike. They appear much more human in their facial complexion, proportions and positions. They are not static. The child holds his finger in his mouth. He is playful and alive. Madonna holds him in her hands and looks at him carefully. Viewers can notice the feelings of comfort and pleasure in the way she looks at her baby.

This transition from expressionless, some may say emotionless, depictions of humans to lifelike, active characters can be seen throughout Renaissance art. The Renaissance artists wanted to depict realism in their art. They strived to have the images correspond in some way to the real world. In this respect, they tried to learn how to paint the world they have, not only the world which belongs to Saints. This shift in philosophy during this period created the necessity to create art in a different manner. People became interested in themselves.

This may be the most obvious reason why these two art periods are so different. At the same time, Renaissance art is the logical continuation of the development of art in human history. People do not stay the same; the world is changing, so the art changes too. It is hard to imagine that the Renaissance period would have developed in the manner that it did without the foundation laid during the medieval period. It’s clear that later periods built extensively off the techniques and philosophies developed during the Renaissance.

The Renaissance served as the greatest transitional period from earlier, more primitive styles, and set the stage for modern art as we know it. References Duccio di Buoninsegna. (1300) Madonna and Child [Picture]. Retrieved from: http://www. metmuseum. org/toah/works-of-art/2004. 442 da Vinci, L. (c. 1490) Madonna Litta. [Picture]. Retrieved from: http://www. abcgallery. com/L/leonardo/leonardo13. html Lane, J. (1998). Renaissance (1400 – 1600). Retrieved from: http://www. humanitiesweb. org/spa/gil/ID/35