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Transcript of The Renaissance
The classical Goddess Venus emerges from the water on a shell, blown towards shore by the Zephyrs, symbols of spiritual passions. She is joined by one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons, who hands her a flowered cloak. (…)
The effect (of the statue), nonetheless, is distinctly pagan, considering it was made at a time and place when most artworks depicted Roman Catholic themes.
What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty!
In form, in moving, how express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god!
The beauty of the world!
The paragon of animals!
Man is the only theme of this (his) hymn .
Wonder, exclamation make up the architectural frame of this speech: How …! How…!
It is a speech full of words and adjectives, all positive, which would be more suitable for a deity: “infinite, admirable, an angel, god, the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals”.
Man is considered in each aspect of life, in his earthly body with his skills and his beauties and in his spiritual and intellectual faculties.
... but it didn't use to be like that ...
Life as a Pilgrimage
“Wait a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy end of thine evils. There will come an hour when all labour and trouble shall cease. Poor and brief is all that which passeth away with time.
Do in earnest what thou do; labour faithfully in my vineyard, I will be thy recompense.”
This excerpt is taken from a book of prayers written by a German monk a few decades after the Canterbury Tales had been written. In spite of the later date it displays a completely medieval point of view on life and afterlife.
Life is a short waiting spell (period).
“There will come an hour … “This hour is DEATH, “when all trouble and labour” will come to an end. So life is only trouble and labour, therefore not worthy to be lived intensively, because …
… everything in this life is “poor” and “brief”, because it goes away with time, only afterlife is eternal, thus worthy to be lived.
Men have to work “in earnest” and “faithfully” and will receive God’s “recompense”, which is eternal life.
It was actually like this ...
The Birth of Venus
Renaissance is re-birth in French
Renaissance had its basis on the philosophy called “Humanism” and its concern with “Humanities”, which is a type of classical education.
Humanism takes its name from “human”, which means “related to man”, as, in fact, this was the main concern of Philosophy in the Renaissance period.
Humanism was an ideal that focused on the earthly world of mankind (at least) as much as on the hereafter.
It rejected the gloomy medieval view of humanity, as irreparably flawed with the "original sin", and focused on the goodness of mankind.
Most historians believe that this reemergence of interest in the arts was due to the economic growth that Europe experienced after the Middle Ages.
Humanism was the philosophical ideal that contrasted the Medieval school of thought focused primarily on the afterlife, as contrasted with life on Earth. According to this newly achieved confidence in the potential of Man, fully developing his gifts was also a great way of worshiping God, Man's creator.
Greater appreciation for beautiful works of art and fine craftsmanship.
Creation of schools that focused on the humanities: History, Philosophy, Latin, Greek, Arts, etc.
New attitude of the artists, who set out to study human form and tried, in their artwork, to portray people in a more realistic way.
... and so what? what were the effects?
Marsilio Ficino in 1459 founded, with the patronage of Cosimo dei Medici, the first Platonic school in Florence with the asserted goal of reviving the liberal arts,
Grammar, Poetry, Rhetoric, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music...
Humanist newly founded schools showed a new outlook or attitude toward the purpose of life—centred on the beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Humanists adopted the ancient ideas in order to gain that knowledge whihc they knew was useful in making themselves better people, so, just for instance, virtuous, responsible, educated citizens, aware of what had been thought, taught and done at other times and places.
Humanists sought to understand what it was to be fully human, so (…)
… people should try to improve their lives by seeking happiness and fulfillment in their daily earthly life, which was then seen a worthier way to worship God;
Each individual had dignity and worth.
At the beginning it was ...
The setting of Florence, where the Renaissance was born, was ideal, because there were wealthy patrons, above all the Medici.
Italy was going through a new economic burst and a wealthy period, thanks to the new “Communes era”.
Europe as well would soon have a new economic recovery.
That’s why we say we have a rebirth, which is, in French, “Renaissance”.
Italian traders, who had grown wealthy due to commerce, became patrons of the artists.
Italy had the biggest legacy of Ancient Rome: monuments, buildings, and achievements, which inspired both the patrons and the artists.
Italy was ideally situated along the emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia.
The first Renaissance artists were mainly craftsmen (Cimabue, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo, etc) and had their own workshops.
How did it start?
Art was created upon commission (wealthy sponsors)
Renaissance masterpieces were, at first, made in the workshops
At the beginning of the Renaissance, art was a massive imitation of Roman and Greek art.
The Renaissance workshop
Statues were more and more free-standing.
At the beginning of the movement the workshops were the places were art was created.
There was a tight collaboration of masters and apprentices.
Workshops were family-based and run like a business.
Painters, in Giotto’s footsteps, started seeking realistic effects, such as perspective, study and use of shadows, balance of dark and light and depth-effect.
Science helped painters to draw and sculptors to sculpt realistic and well proportioned human beings.
Linear perspective allowed artist to represent objects in relative sizes, proportional, realistic, life-like.
People who were drawn had individual and emotional identities.
Artists started to use bright colours, and oil paints.
How did Renaissance spread to Europe?
Renaissance spread to Northern Europe through war, trade, travel, and innovation.
The renewed appreciation for the classic world, Greek and Latin, involved the languages as well.
Latin was adopted by the European scholars as the international language for their cultural exchanges.
John Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press with movable types made books less expensive and more widely available.
How did the Renaissance reach England?
Some more scholars fled to Europe from Byzantium, which fell under the Ottoman rule in 1453.
In 1485 AD, Henry VII invited Italian scholars to England.
Literary genres such as “the Petrarchan sonnet” and Drama, were imported in England and became very popular, captured and showed human qualities of jealousy, love, ambition, and despair, both related to common people and to Kings and princes.
The “Hundred years’ war” against France forced the British Kings to get acquainted with what was going on in the continent.
As a consequence, this made many people lose confidence on the Christian view of world and life and change mind, shift to a more earthly opinion, leading them to live for the moment rather than in preparation for the afterlife.
The Black Death
In the 14th Century, one-third or more of the population of Europe died of the plague.
The plague was indiscriminate; it affected kings and serfs, priests and peasants, pious men and sinful ones. Neither fervent Christian beliefs, the payment of indulgences, confession, or anything else, provided protection from it.
The new topics, suggested the idea, even to common people, that they were, in some way, worthy to be portrayed as much as Kings and princes and that –just as common people- they were affected by the same troubles, the same feelings, the same worries.
Literature before the Renaissance
Important original books of the Middle Ages:
Book of Kells (which contains the four Gospels)
Large collections of church hymns
Didactic poems of religious significance (Morality plays)
Legends of various saints
Literature before the Renaissance was mainly a Christian Literature.
Books had to be copied by hand and were very expensive also because of the high cost of the sheets that were used at that time (sheep or calf’s skin; 200 sheep were needed for a single Bible).
Literary production was extremely limited.
Beowulf (created in Denmark but written in England)
The Exeter Book (an important collection of elegies)
The Ecclesiastical History of the English people (Venerable Bede)
Some historical chronicles
Emphasis was brought even on humanistic education for statesmanship (the Medici in Florence and, later on, Henry VIII and Elisabeth I in England.
As “Renaissance” means “Rebirth” we do have a rebirth of interest in Greek and Latin classic literature and languages.
The focus was set on the individual together with a new concern with the fullest possible cultivation of human potential through proper education.
A new concern arose on individual consciousness and human mind.
A new concern was brought upon the refinement of the language and the development of a national, vernacular literature.
The idea that future governors and rulers had to be educated and trained to do “the job” will increasingly get to deny the divine right to rule claimed by many kings and princes of the time.
Renaissance in Literature
• Great artists, writers, and scientists of the Renaissance had many kinds of knowledge, talents, and skills.
• A Renaissance man was expected to enjoy art, write poetry, play a musical instrument, speak several other languages, understand current politics, ride well on horseback, be good at sports, be able to put up a good fight, and learn proper manners of courtesy and grace.
Above all, a Renaissance man was expected to be well educated and well rounded (the “all round man”).
Sir Thomas More and Erasmus of Rotterdam, both Humanists, gave the biggest contribution with their works to the spread of Renaissance in Britain.
The Renaissance man