Renaissance and Neoclassical Historical Arts
Renaissance is a cultural movement that started in Europe during the early 14th to 17th century or a period between the Classical and Modern era. More than its cultural essence, the Renaissance period was known for its developments in art, painting, philosophy, architecture and other intellectual aspects. It was an era that witnessed the largest growth and development in Western Europe.
A1. Renaissance art took its shape from the social conditions that existed at that time that carved Europe’s political structure. The cultural rarity of Italy existed, as there was no political form during the early modern period that resulted in artistic and academic advancements. This freedom opened gateways to trade and commerce across the globe that brought wealth in Italy through commissioning its artistic work.
Renaissance artists looked for human emotions and realism in art. They focused on making human portrays with a natural background. They took the Humanism approach, placing more emphasis on man than god, which was reflected in their sculptures and paintings. The Early Renaissance period focused more on creating sculptures on the basis of personality and behavior, whereas the High Renaissance was more towards balance and drama. Renaissance artists were greatly inspired by Roman and Greek art that used nude human bodies of personality in their art. Their attempt to gain perfection in human arts for expression, personality, and emotions reduced social hierarchies in the status of people resulting in everybody wanting to learn and share their ideas and skills.
A2. Neoclassicism was a predominant movement during the mid 18th century and the late 19th century in European art and architecture. It focused on the western classical art forms of ancient Greece and Rome. It was partly a movement that had initiated as a reaction to the Baroque and Rococo styles. It became a predominant part of academic art that continued into the 19th century to become visible as museums of neoclassical architecture.
Neoclassical art aimed in reviving the European Age of Enlightenment that was the Greek and Roman classical art forms. It aimed to contain the ‘purity’ of Roman arts and criticized Baroque and Rococo styles. Neoclassicism gained importance in France and England spreading towards Sweden. It made use of the classical essence relating to courage and nationalism.
Neoclassicism aimed to resurge classical styles through usage of sharp colors and classical subjects. They avoided light and soft colors in their paintings that depicted calmness and grandeur. Neoclassicists revived the Greek painting styles by using mosaics, columns, engravings and other ornamental elements in their work.
A3. Renaissance signified the rebirth of arts, science, and medicine and was an era that was responsible for most radical developments and movements in Europe. So much so, that it is also used to describe other major cultural and historical moments. Classical Renaissance gave birth to the Baroque style that was more dramatic and direct. Therefore Neoclassicism was nothing but a reaction to the Baroque style so as to preserve the purity of ancient Roman arts. Moreover, neoclassicism remained one of the foremost in academic arts.
- Renaissance period was known for its Humanist approach in art while neoclassical art focused on more classical and pure elements of style;
- The Renaissance period brought about radical developments in arts, philosophy, and medicine while neoclassical art was foremost in academic arts;
- Renaissance artists believed in more natural and expressive nude sculptures of art while neoclassical artists incorporated ornamental elements in their work;
- The Renaissance period opened gateways to new ideas and developments, while the neoclassicism period focused on retaining the Age of Enlightenment.
A3b. The Renaissance era was one of the most influential and flourishing period during the 15th and 16th centuries and gave birth to major cultural developments for almost three centuries. Renaissance art was born out of an evolving civilization whose quest for Realism and scientific perfection resulted in some of the greatest works and achievement in arts, science, architecture, and philosophy. The distinguishing feature of Renaissance art is its dedication to classical arts with a renewed interest in Roman styles that included naked human sculptures with no landscapes in a natural environment. It was an important era that brought wealth to Europe and its artistic freedom enabled skilled artisans to flourish.
A3b1. Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period. Also known as the ‘Renaissance Man’, was born in Italy and was a renowned painter who became a polymath in many fields such as music, science, mathematics, and botany. He is considered as one of the greatest diversely talented persons to have lived. Mona Lisa is one of the most renowned works of his time that was greatly appreciated. The Mona Lisa is a 16th century half-length portrait that was made in oil and of a seated woman.
Andrea Appiani (1754-1817) Born in Milan, was an Italian neoclassical painter. He trained under Carlo Maria Giudici and learnt painting by copying sculptures. His best works are in the church of San Maria presso San Celso and the royal palace at Milan. Among some of his works of oil paintings are Venus and Love, and Rinaldo in the garden of Armida.
A3b2. Madame Hamelin (1776-1851) was one of the neoclassical painter Andrea Appiani’s work that bears a similar resemblance to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Monal Lisa. Both are half-length oil portraits of women who are half-seated that reflects the natural facial expressions wherein their hands are folders bearing similar artistic values and styles to one another.
A3c. Neoclassicism reached its most influential period in arts during the 1780s to 1850s. New archeological discoveries and settings paved the way for classical themes that also resulted from the reaction of the Rococo styles. Neoclassicism retained its classical antiquity and co-existed with its much opposite form of Romanticism art. Artists of the neoclassical era replaced religious and mythological objects with realistic, simple, and bold ones. IN the 1830s, the Neoclassicism era was replaced by Romanticism.