Understanding more about the Renaissance

Man Knowledge: The Basics of Art-The Renaissance

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 16, 2010 · 20 comments

in Manly Knowledge

We live in a world that’s highly technical and specialized. When a man goes to college these days, he spends his time learning the skills that will allow him to seek gainful employment. Little time is spent studying art or literature. These subjects are often seen as “pointless” because they don’t have any practical application when it comes to paying the bills. On top of that, many men see art appreciation as wussy and effeminate and thus steer clear of it.

But it’s a shame that many men feel this way about art because they’re missing out on poignant insights about what it means to be human and what it means to be a man. Art can capture the emotions of the human experience when words fail us, give us insight into positive madness, expand our minds, and help us learn more about the world and ourselves.

If you feel like you missed out on a basic art education or if you learned plenty about art history, but you need a refresher, this series we’re starting today is just for you. Over the next few months, we’ll be covering some of the simple basics of the important periods of Western art. Next time you’re on a date at a museum, you’ll have a few things to add to the conversation. But more importantly, you’ll be able to get more out of the art yourself and hopefully be inspired to delve deeper into the fruits of man’s infinite creativity. As you take time to ponder and mediate on some of history’s greatest works of art, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for art’s manly heritage, experience uplift and edification, and find yourself closer to becoming a true Renaissance Man.

Speaking of the Renaissance, let’s get started talking about that period’s art.

An Introduction to the Basics of Renaissance Art

Time Period: 1400s-1600s

Background: The 14th century was a time of great crisis; the plague, the Hundred Years war, and the turmoil in the Catholic Church all shook people’s faith in government, religion, and their fellow man. In this dark period Europeans sought a new start, a cultural rebirth, a renaissance.

The Renaissance began in Italy where the culture was surrounded by the remnants of a once glorious empire. Italians rediscovered the writings, philosophy, art, and architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans and began to see antiquity as a golden age which held the answers to reinvigorating their society. Humanistic education, based on rhetoric, ethics and the liberal arts, was pushed as a way to create well-rounded citizens who could actively participate in the political process. Humanists celebrated the mind, beauty, power, and enormous potential of human beings. They believed that people were able to experience God directly and should have a personal, emotional relationship to their faith. God had made the world but humans were able to share in his glory by becoming creators themselves.

These new cultural movements gave inspiration to artists, while Italy’s trade with Europe and Asia produced wealth that created a large market for art. Prior to the Renaissance Period, art was largely commissioned by the Catholic Church, which gave artists strict guidelines about what the finished product was to look like. Medieval art was decorative, stylized,  flat, and two-dimensional and did not depict the world or human beings very realistically. But a thriving commercial economy distributed wealth not just to the nobility but to merchants and bankers who were eager to show their status by purchasing works of art (the Church remained a large patron of the arts as well). Artists were allowed greater flexibility in what they were to produce, and they took advantage of it by exploring new themes and techniques.

  • Perspective. To add three-dimensional depth and space to their work, Renaissance artists rediscovered and greatly expanded on the ideas of linear perspective, horizon line, and vanishing point.
    • Linear perspective: Rendering a painting with linear perspective is like looking through a window and painting exactly what you see on the window pane. Instead of every object in the picture being the same size, objects that were further away would be smaller, while those closer to you would be larger.
    • Horizon line: Horizon line refers to the point in the distance where objects become so infinitely small, that they have shrunken to the size of a line.
    • Vanishing point: The vanishing point is the point at which parallel lines appear to converge far in the distance, often on the horizon line. This is the effect you can see when standing on railroad tracks and looking at the tracks recede into the distance.
  • Shadows and light. Artists were interested in playing with the way light hits objects and creates shadows. The shadows and light could be used to draw the viewer’s eye to a particular point in the painting.
  • Emotion. Renaissance artists wanted the viewer to feel something while looking at their work, to have an emotional experience from it. It was a form of visual rhetoric, where the viewer felt inspired in their faith or encouraged to be a better citizen.
  • Realism and naturalism. In addition to perspective, artists sought to make objects, especially people, look more realistic. They studied human anatomy, measuring proportions and seeking the ideal human form. People looked solid and displayed real emotions, allowing the viewer to connect with what the depicted persons were thinking and feeling.


Let’s start out by looking at two different paintings of the Virgin Mary, one from the Byzantine period, and one from the Renaissance period, so that you can get a feel for the profound transformation art went through during the Renaissance:

Madonna and Child on a Curved Throne, 1200′s. In this wood panel painting from the Byzantine period, the bodies of Mary and Jesus are bodiless and hidden in drapery. The folds of the drapery are represented by gold leaf striations; even where you would see knees, you have an accumulation of gold instead of light and shadow. The picture lacks the feeling of depth and space. Also, Jesus is portrayed as an infant, but looks like a miniature adult.

Madonna del Cardellino, by Raphael, 1506. Now we’re well into the Renaissance and the changes in style are readily apparent. Mary has become much more realistically human; she has a real form, real limbs, a real expression on her face. Not only does she look natural, but she is placed is a natural setting. Jesus and John the Baptist look like real babies, not miniature adults. Raphael utilized perspective to give the painting depth. He also captured the Renaissance’s love of combining beauty and science-bringing back things like geometry from the ancient Greeks: Mary, Christ, and John the Baptist form a pyramid.

Tribute Money, by Masaccio, 1425. Masaccio was a pioneer in the technique of one point perspective; the painting is an image of what one person looking at the scene would see. Notice how Peter, next to the water, and the mountains are paler and less clear than the objects in the foreground. The lines in the painting meet atop Jesus’ head in a vanishing point. It appears that the figures are lit by light from the chapel, as their shadows all fall away in the same direction. Such a touch seems basic to us today, but incorporating a light from a specific source and using it to lend figures three-dimensionality was groundbreaking for the time.

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, 1498.  An example of the way in which Renaissance artists wished to draw the viewer into the painting by depicting a vibrant scene filled with real psychology and emotion. All the apostles have different reactions to Christ revealing that one will betray him. Like in the Tribute Money, Jesus’ head is located at the vanishing point for all the perspective lines.

The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, 1511. In this most famous section of the Sistine Chapel, the personal nature of faith, the divine potential of man, and the idea of man being co-creator with God is vividly depicted. So is the Renaissance interest in anatomy; God is resting on the outline of the human brain. Michelangelo, like Leonardo, performed numerous dissections of human corpses in order to gain an in-depth and realistic look at the parts and structure of the human body.

David, by Michelangelo, 1504. Renaissance artists created the first free-standing nude statutes since the days of antiquity. Michelangelo believed that sculpture was the highest form of art as it echoes the process of divine creation. His David is the perfect example of the Renaissance’s celebration of the ideal human form. The statue conveys rich realism in form, motion, and feeling. The upper body and hands are not quite proportional, perhaps owing to the fact that the work was meant to be put on a pedestal and viewed by looking upwards. Michelangelo was a master at portraying subjects at moments of psychological transition, as if they had just thought of something, and this statue is often believed to be depicting the moment when David decides to slay Goliath.

School of Athens, by Raphael, 1510. This painting, which depicts all the great philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome, serves as an example of the way in which Renaissance artists were inspired by and hearkened back to the days of antiquity. The perspective lines draw the viewer to the center of the painting and the vanishing point where history’s two greatest philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, stand. In line with their philosophies, Plato points to the heavens and the realm of Forms, while Aristotle points to the earth and the realm of things.

Sources and Copyrights:   http://artofmanliness.com/2010/07/16/man-knowledge-the-basics-of-art-the-renaissance/

Related items

  • Tiziano Exhibition in Rome 2013

    Do not miss the exhibition of the Maestro Tiziano in Rome!

    When: From 5 March to 16 June 2013

    Where: Scuderie del Quirinale, Via XXIV Maggio, 16

    Info: +39 0639967500   http://www.scuderiequirinale.it/Home.aspx

    The Concert and La Bella from Palazzo Pitti, Flora from the Uffizi, the Gozzi Altarpiece from Ancona, Danaë and the Shower of Gold from Capodimonte, Charles V with a Dog and the Self-portrait from the Prado, or the Flaying of Marsyas from Kromeriz are some of the most celebrated works of the great Venetian painter Titian (Pieve di Cadore, circa 1485 - Venice, 1576).  These and many more are to go on display at the Quirinale in an exhibition designed to stand as the ideal conclusion to the sweeping overview of Venetian painting and the debate on the crucial role that it played in the renewal of culture in Italy and in Europe, promoted by the Scuderie del Quirinale in an analysis of the work of the leading players in the modern revolution in painting, from Antonello da Messina to Giovanni Bellini, Lorenzo Lotto and Tintoretto, of which Titian is the last and loftiest witness in his role as the European artist par excellence.

    Visitors to the exhibition will be able to retrace the salient moments of this great Italian painter's uncontainable rise, from his early days in the workshops of Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione in Venice to the independence that he won with his large canvases for the Doges and for the D'Este and Della Rovere families, and ultimately with his imperial commissions from Charles V and his son Philip II.  Titian's entire artistic career will be represented at the highest level, decade by decade, underscoring his masterly sense of colour and the development of his brushwork, which proved capable of surpassing the boundaries of painterly imagination. Through iconographic comparisons - particularly emblematic, among the many that the exhibition will be hosting, is a comparison between the Crucifixion from the Dominican church in Ancona, the Crucifixion for the Escorial in Madrid, and the fragmentary Crucifixion now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna - visitors will be able to gain a direct perception of the master's innovative approach and compositional structure, in an exhibition designed to convey not only his crucial role as a religious painter but also his complex career as portrait-painter extraordinary to the nobility and aristocracy of his day.  Thanks to the support of, and loans from, many leading museums both in Italy and overseas, the exhibition sets out to permit a broader audience to grasp the exceptional nature of an artist who was capable of merging "the greatness and the power of Michel Agnolo, the sweetness and the beauty of Raphael and the very colours of Nature herself", as Ludovico Dolce, a contemporary writer and fervent admirer of the master, so aptly put it.

    The exhibition will be accompanied by the results of an extensive campaign of scientific analysis which has encompassed a large part of the artist's output.  Conducted by the Centro di Ateneo di Arti Visive at the Università degli Studi di Bergamo, the campaign has achieved results of the utmost importance in defining the relationship between autograph works and workshop products, and in fully documenting Titian's technical development from the earliest days of his apprenticeship.

    Source: http://english.scuderiequirinale.it/categorie/exhibition-tiziano-rome

  • The truth about the Emperor's Dishes..

    Ancient Roman Recipes

    • Ingredients and cooking instructions for Roman Recipes

    • The life and times of the people of Ancient Rome

    • Cooking Recipes

    • The society, culture and life of the Romans

    • The Romans and life in Ancient Rome

    • Roman Dessert Recipes

    • Recipes

    • Recipes for Starters, Main Course, Dinner and Desserts

    Ancient Roman Recipes

    History, Facts and Information about Ancient Roman Recipes
    What type of food did the Ancient Romans eat? What ingredients did they use? What cooking methods did they employ? What were the Ancient Roman Dessert recipes like? The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about life in Ancient Rome including original recipes.

    Roman Burgers - Isicia Omentata
    Souffle of Small Fish - Patina de pisciculis
    Seafood Fricassee - Minutal marinum
    Green Beans - Fabaciae virides et baianae
    Chicken and Leek - Pullum frontonianum
    Chicken with Stuffing - Pullus fusilis
    Boiled Eggs - In ovis apalis
    Mussels - In mitulis
    Tuna - Sarda ita fit
    Big Shrimps - Scillas
    Fried Veal - Vitellina fricta
    Boiled Veal - In vitulinam elixam
    Steamed Lamb Cutlets - Aliter baedinam

    Ancient Roman Dessert Recipes

    Pear Souffle - Patina de piris
    Apricot Starter - Gustum de praecoquis
    Honey and Nut Dessert - Dulcia domestica
    Grape and Nut Dessert - Aliter dulcia
    Water and Honey Melons - Pepones et melones



    Famous Ancient Roman Recipes - Apicius - On the subject of Cooking
    The content of this section provides details of Ancient Roman food recipes for main courses and desserts. They are taken from a collection of Ancient Roman Food Recipes. The cookery book, containing these old Roman recipes, is called Apicius, a name that has long been associated with the love of food. The famous Greek equivalent to this name is Epicurus from which the word 'epicure' is derived meaning a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink). Marcus Gavius Apicius was the name of an extravagant Roman who loved expensive food and luxury. His liking for food was famous and eventually the name of Apicius was eventually thought appropriate for a collection of Ancient Roman recipes which at first was commonly known as known as Apicius. In the earliest printed editions of this ancient book of Roman recipes it was given the overall title 'De re coquinaria' which means "On the Subject of Cooking". The Roman food recipes contained in this cookery book includes fish, meat, dessert, vegetable and soup recipes.

    Ancient Roman Recipes - The Dormouse!
    One of the most intriguing of the Ancient Roman recipes is for the dormouse. Probably because the thought of it feels us with horror! The edible dormouse was farmed by the Romans in large pits or in terra cotta containers and eaten by the ancient Romans as a snack or as part of the first course of the Roman main meal called the Coena. Dormouse recipe serving instructions: Dormice were sprinkled with poppy-seed and honey and were served with hot sausages on a silver gridiron, underneath which were damson plums and pomegranate seeds.

    Ancient Roman Recipes
    The content of this Ancient Roman Recipes category on life in Ancient Rome provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework. Refer to the Colosseum Sitemap for a comprehensive search on interesting different categories containing the history, facts and information about Ancient Rome.

    Sources and Copyrights:   http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman-life/ancient-roman-recipes.htm



  • Fiscal Problem

    No (Fiscal) Receipt? No Party: How Tourists Can Help the Campaign Against Tax Evasion in Italy

    Everyone knows that tax evasion is one of the biggest issues facing Italy's economy. But very few tourists to Italy know that they have the power to do something about it.

    And should.

    That's because tax evasion in Italy doesn't just happen in accountants' offices behind closed doors. It happens every time a product, meal, or coffee is sold. Why? Because Italian stores and restaurants have a book of "fiscal receipts" issued by the government—and legally, they need to give the customer a fiscal receipt (ricevuta fiscale) for each interaction. Each time they use a ricevuta fiscale, the government knows about the purchase... and the interaction is taxed.

    Without issuing that ricevuta fiscale, it's like the interaction never happened. And, therefore, it's untaxed.

    And so, guess what: You hardly ever see fiscal receipts in Italy. Especially if you're a tourist.

    Restaurants and stores know that tourists have no idea what a fiscal receipt looks like versus a non-fiscal receipt. They also know that tourists have a tendency to think it's "cute" when their waiter does something like, say, scribble the total on the tablecloth or a napkin. Guess what? That's not a fiscal receipt. And that's not cute. It means that your meal isn't being taxed. It's going right into the owner's pockets, tax-free.

    This has been a huge issue for, well, ages. It's something everyone knows, but—until recently—that nobody publicizes. It's part of a system that many Italians mistakenly believe benefits everyone: After all, it obviously helps owners, in the short term, especially since taxes are so high in Italy. And as a customer? If you're a regular, you know that, if you don't ask for a fiscal receipt, your local restaurant or drycleaner or whatever will give you a discount. Everybody wins.

    Except, of course, that they don't.

    In 2009 alone, Italians evaded about 120 billion euros in taxes—that's almost four times the value of Monti's new austerity budget. If Italy were as strict in collecting taxes as the U.K. and the U.S. over the last 40 years, economists have calculated, then the country's national debt would be 80 percent of GDP, not 120 percent.

    Doesn't the government know about this, you ask? Aren't they doing anything? Well, sure. There's something called the Guardia di Finanza in Italy—think the IRS with guns—whose sole job is to make sure that fiscal interactions are done legally. Occasionally, they'll get a tip on a restaurant or shop. The problem? Because Italy is what it is, the establishment usually gets a tip-off that they're coming. And so, surprise! When the Guardia check the receipts they're issuing, they're suddenly fiscal.

    With Monti's new government, though, things seem to be improving. There have just been several big stings that have shown just how bad tax evasion was—and not just in the much-maligned south, but in the supposedly-so-civilized north, too. In December, 80 tax inspectors swooped in on the tony ski town of Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy's Dolomites. In the wake of the inspection, declared profits were suddenly up 400 percent from the previous season (gee whiz, how'd that happen?). In mid-January in Rome, an inspection of 292 businesses in one day found that 52% were in violation. And last weekend, the Guardia di Finanza targeted Milan. In the days after their blitz, reported income went up by 44 percent.

    So. Well and good. But government can only do so much.

    Consumers have to help, too.

    Italians have started calling for boycotts among establishments that aren't issuing fiscal receipts. One of the leaders of the pack is Rome's own Puntarella Rossa, who has launched the campaign "No scontrino, no party" (no receipt, no party), encouraging diners to ask for fiscal receipts every time they eat—or to boycott the restaurant. Even more effectively, the restaurants in violation are being named and shamed. Citizens took the campaign seriously this week in Bari, for example, sending photos of the receipts they received, with the restaurants' names, to both the Guardia and to La Repubblica's blog on Bari.

    It's a fantastic idea, and one that needs to spread. But it can be expanded to tourists, too. Because, with as many non-Italian diners and customers as there are in Rome and the rest of Italy, everyone needs to be a part of this for it to succeed.

    So, folks: When you're dining in Italy, always ask for a "ricevuta fiscale." Don't accept hand-scribbled scraps of paper as receipts, and don't accept a receipt that says, at the top, "NON FISCALE" (not fiscal). Unless, that is, you don't mind supporting Italy's tax evasion—and the huge issues it's causing for not only Italy's economy, but the worldwide economy, too.

    You could take it a step further: Snap a photo of the illegal receipt and email it, with the restaurant's name, to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Need help figuring out what is and what isn't a fiscal receipt? Check out Walks of Italy's blog post on how not to get ripped off at Italian restaurants, which includes a helpful section, with photos, on what fiscal and non-fiscal receipts look like.

    Sources and Copyrights:   http://www.revealedrome.com/2012/02/tax-evasion-italy-what-travelers-can-do.html

  • The Story about the Temple of Saturn

    Temple of Saturn

    Walking Tour of Rome Forum

    The Temple of Saturn can't be missed in a walking tour of the Roman Forum mostly because of its huge presence. It is one of the first things you will notice as you scan the area of Rome ruins.

    The gigantic Greek style columns, from a 4th century restoration following a fire, framed the entrance to the Temple of Saturn.

    The eight standing columns face the Curia or Senate House.

    Notice the different colors of the columns which shows a wonderful example of spolia, which is the practice of recycling materials or elements from ancient buildings.

    Saturn Temple is the Forum's oldest temple dating from 497BC, founded in the early days of the Roman Republic.

    The arched openings in the massive foundations housed the treasury of the Roman government.

    Legend of Saturn

    The most popular god, Saturn, ruled a "golden age" of prosperity, peace and civil freedom. The Romans believed Saturn's kingdom was Capitoline Hill.

    According to legend, the rule of Saturn's son, Jupiter, brought this period to an end. Honoring Saturn with a Temple, the Romans hoped for the return to a better era.

    In the end of December, a festival was celebrated in honor of Saturn. Friends and family exchanged gifts and his statue was draped and carried in procession through the city.

    There is an excellent view of the Roman Forum from this spot.

    Check out other ancient Rome attractions and more sightseeing in Rome ideas including Vatican City Rome.

    Return to Home from Temple of Saturn
    Surces and Copyrights:  http://www.best-of-rome-italy.com/temple-of-saturn.html


  • Free entrance for your Birthday..

    "A HAPPY BIRTHDAY" WITH ART. Free admission to state museums on your birthday

    Throughout 2012 Italians and E.U. citizens can visit any one of Italy’s  magnificent state museums free of charge on their birthday: just show your identity card at the ticket office!
    In the event the museum were to be closed on your birthday, a free ticket will be available on the following day.

    from 1-1-2012 to 31-12-2012

    Telephone: 800 99 11 99

    Web site: www.beniculturali.it


    January 1 - December 31, 2012


      1-1-2012 to 31-12-2012

    Spurces and Copyrights:  http://www.turismoroma.it/cosa-fare/larte-ti-fa-gli-auguri-entrata-gratuita-nei-musei-statali-nel-giorno-del-proprio-compleanno?lang=en