fifteenth century art


Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, known as Fra Angelico, died on this day in 1455 in Rome. The first painter to adopt the radically new naturalism of Masaccio, Angelico dominated Florentine painting in the 1430s and 40s. His fame as a panel and fresco painter earned him commissions in Cortona, Perugia, and Rome as well as Florence and Fiesole.  In addition to his artistic career, Angelico was a Dominican friar and active in various administrative roles within his order. Vasari claimed that whenever the artist painted the Crucifixion, he shed a tear. His works certainly have a deeply moving spirituality and meditative quality that make it easy to see why he was so sought after in the first half of the fifteenth century.

Jelly D'Aranyi (c.1920s). Charles Geoffroy-Dechaume (French, 1877-1944). Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery.

D'Aranyi, a Hungarian violinist, is wearing a dress that epitomises the liberation of women’s fashion in the 1920s. The carnations, traditional flowers of concert-goers in Italy and Spain, lying on a classical window ledge recall early Italian paintings of the fifteenth century.

Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is another illumination of the presentation in the temple, but this time executed in grisaille with gold leaf highlights. It is a really good example of the grisaille technique, using a very limited palette of grey to great effect. The manuscript was produced in the late fifteenth century in Flanders, but now lives in the Walters Museum, Baltimore.

Image source: Walters Museum MS W. 194. Creative Commons licensed via Flickr.

Week Two

     The early Renaissance was and still is a very influential time period, which is surprising considering a number of things going on during that time besides the Renaissance art evolution; the Humanist Movement, the printing press is invented, the Byzantine Empire ends, Columbus discovers America. Even though there were a lot of things were happening, art was still being made. In fact, it was thriving and evolving to an extreme.  

     In the Fifteenth Century art had drastically changed its characteristics. I personally think the main characteristics of Renaissance art is the use of linear perspective, depth, and realism. Along with individualism, the painting of individual people instead of groups. Nature was also used more as a background and the painting of human anatomy grew rapidly.

     Take Sandro Botticelli’s painting, Birth of Venus, for example, the four figures (the male wind, the female breeze, the women representing spring, and Venus herself) are all in the foreground and in the background is a lovely lake scene that just screams nature. We can physically see that the lake is in the background with the use of linear perspective especially the use of a horizon line. Looking at the four figures closely you can see the amount of detail that is put into their faces; they look realist and their bodies are proportional. The emotion that Botticelli captures in all of their faces is also astonishing.

     Not only did Renaissance art thrive and evolve, but so did its architecture. Brunelleschi’s architecture really stood out to me in this reading. The fact that he liked the lay in basic shapes and the use of circles and squares in his plans really intrigued me. My dad is a residential architect, which means he only designs homes, but we both have a weird passion for old architecture and reading about The Dome of Florence Cathedral design and construction really fascinated us with Brunelleschi’s use of the vertical ribs to support the dome.

     I plan on majoring in Interior Design at Iowa State University and the picture on page 247 (fig 15.7) really caught my eye. The interior design of Brunelleschi’s Santo Spirito, Florence is breathtaking. The use of the Gothic styles really shows with the tall ceilings and huge columns lining the main hall. I also love the fact that he used his signature style floor plan as well. The use of the basic shapes and semi-circles is not only simple, but also extremely creative.

     I have to mention my favorite Renaissance painting of all time, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. I have great respect for Michelangelo for doing the Sistine Chapel considering he completely destroyed his physical form in the process of making the painting. But what I truly admire about this painting is the story he has created. My personal favorite segment from the story is The Flood. The amount of detail Michelangelo put in that segment is amazing, heck the whole ceiling is truly amazing.

     When I was in fourth grade we were studying Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and for an art project, we had to paint on our backs under our desks. We were just painting on standard 8.5 x 11 printing paper, I can’t even imagine what painting on a 5,800 square feet ceiling would be like. My respect runs deep for Michelangelo.

Works Cited:

Picture: “A Flattened View of the Incredible Sistine Chapel Ceiling.” TwistedSifter. N.p., 10 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 May 2017.

Book: Adams, Laurie Schneider. A History of Western Art. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.

Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is a lavishly illustrated Franciscan breviary. The historiated initial shows David with his harp. The border contains fantastical creatures, and owls, and dragons, and naked figures fighting, and angels bearing coats of arms, and… well really there is just so much going on here that the best thing you can do is take a proper close-up look! If this image isn’t high res enough for you, check out the original over on Flickr.

Image source: Schaffhausen, Ministerialbibliothek, Min. 98: Breviarium OFM . Creative Commons licensed via eCodices on Flickr.