A Little Lesson from the 16th Century

One of my favorite art movements is the High Renaissance in Italian Art during the sixteenth century. I am not one to dwell in the past but if I could go back in time just once in my life, I would definitely want to experience that time in history.

During this era artists were considered “celebrity” status and if I even mention the names of Leonardo, Raphael, or Michelangelo I am sure everyone has an idea on who I am talking about. But the real question is, do you know why they were so important to this era? All three men created almost a standard for art during the time, a way art should be created. The art at the time was not simply a beyond beautiful done painting to look at, there was so much more taken into consideration! Works were not created simply for the sake of being created. The complexity of art works involved detailed mathematics, layers, and newly created perspectives that were not done before or at least not done correctly before.

The concept of Linear Perspective, which is a mathematical system for creating an illusion of space on a flat surface, as objects or lines exceed into the distance the objects or lines appear closer together. (Shown Below)

Linear Perspective DiagramAtmospheric or Aerial Perspective was another perspective created during this era, which is an effect to which the atmosphere plays a role on an object viewed from a distance, contrasts between the object and background decreases and any details or markings become less visible. And, we can see a great example of this perspective easily in Leonardo’s Last Supper, you can see beyond the windows with the mountains and sky creating a atmospheric perspective.

last supperBoth these perspectives were created in order to show an illusion of recession in which we, people see in our every day life’s. Artists of this era saw that and knew that, so they felt it should be added to the paintings. Every painting during this time had both of these perspectives and also had a foreground, middle ground, and background.

Works during this era also displayed a few other visually pleasing aspects, such as using a pyramid composition, which is basically picturing a triangle right on the painting. Artists also used very rich and darkened primary colors (Reds, Yellows, or Blues) in their works, which is one of my favorite aspects because they are simply pleasing to the eye. In addition to the primary colors being my favorite aspect, the religious depictions are my favorite because each and every one of them are beyond beautiful and harmonious.

All of the paintings during the High Renaissance were so simple, calm, and peaceful yet the artist always seemed to display a high intensity moment from a biblical tale, which I love because it is mind blowing yet so pleasing! I would highly encourage everyone to learn more about the High Renaissance and look at some of the paintings! That is my short lesson of history, please enjoy some more great High Renaissance paintings!


Linear Perspective Image: https://eddietuckerocapaint1blog.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/linear-perspective-2.jpg

Atmospheric Perspective/ Last Supper Image: https://05varvara.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/leonardo-da-vinci-the-last-supper-1498-16th-century-copy/

Right Picture, “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/God2-Sistine_Chapel.png

Middle Picture, “Madonna and Child” by Raphael: http://www.italian-renaissance-art.com/images/meadowmadona.jpg

Left Picture, “School of Athens” by Michelangelo: https://classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com/636/flashcards/4396636/jpg/schoolathens-1444DFDD6662D88D738.jpg 



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.