While contemporary literature from Petrarch to Vasari saw the turn to modern times as early as the second half of the 13th century, today the beginning of Renaissance art is usually placed in the first decades of the 15th century as an effort to visualize physical reality (instead of the metaphysical of the Middle Ages) for discovery scientific methods (linear perspective, anatomy, coloring). With the help of logical laws, nature is not reproduced in its random variety, but in its ideal character, the unity in the variety and thus the perfect form of nature is made clear. This striving for the ideal form was seen as exemplarily realized in the works of antiquity. It is significant that most of the leading artists in Florence, the center of the early Renaissance, came from the upper class (F. Brunelleschi, L. Ghiberti, Masaccio), which created its own forms of expression in relation to older art forms that were favored by the nobility and clergy legitimized by tradition (Venice, Milan).
Architecture: The founder of the new architecture is Brunelleschi. Recourse to ancient principles, v. a. But based on forms of the Florentine Proto-Renaissance (Baptistery, San Miniato al Monte), which were mistakenly believed to be ancient, he found new solutions both for the central building (Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo, 1419 ff.) and for the basilica (San Lorenzo, 1419 ff.) and developed new construction methods based on mathematical calculations (dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, 1418–36). Above all, the logical consistency with which the simple geometric basic forms are brought into measurable relationships gives his buildings the effect of manageable clarity and lightness. L. B. Alberti, at the same time the leading theorist of the epoch, created the prototype of the wall pillar church based on the compact, massive construction of the Roman Empire (Mantua, Sant’Andrea, 1470 ff.). The Palazzo Medici (today Palazzo Medici-Riccardi; 1444–60), built by Michelozzo in Florence, with rustic masonry on the ground floor, smooth hewn stones in the middle and smoothly jointed stones on the upper floor, was fundamental for the development of the city palace. Alberti added a vertical pilaster structure to the clear floor plan at Palazzo Rucellai (1446 ff.). Under Albertis influence are that of B. Rossellino built Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza (1460 ff.), the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino (1465 ff.) and the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome (1483 ff.), which was already pointing to the High Renaissance. Of the villa buildings, the Medicivilla Poggio a Caiano by G. da Sangallo (1480 ff.) Was exemplary. For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Pharmacylib.
Sculpture: The sculpture at the beginning of the 15th century in Florence is determined both by the beauty of the international Gothic and by the ancient corporeal-statuesque conception of figures (L. Ghiberti, north door of the Baptistery, 1403-24; Nanni di Banco, Quattro Coronati, Or San Michele, 1409-17). The new beginning at Donatello is decided; he gave new impulses in all areas of sculpture (standing and sitting figures, nude figures, portrait busts, equestrian memorials, reliefs). Trained in antiquity, with a powerful will to express himself in a realistic way, he designed people in a new dignity (Habakkuk, called Zuccone, 1423–25) or in serene beauty (David, around 1440). The base relief with St. George for Or San Michele (1417, today in Bargello) is the first example of a scientific linear perspective representation that Donatello consistently used in his works. The possibilities contained therein for the painterly development of the relief were fully exploited by Ghiberti in his second baptistery door (1425–52). L. Della Robbia, who transferred the technique of glazed terracotta to figures and reliefs, represented a graceful, harmonious style that was common in Florence from 1460 (Desiderio da Settignano, A. Rossellino, Mino da Fiesole). The bronze sculpture by A. del Pollaiuolo and A. del Verrocchio, which extends into the space and prepares the multiple views of the High Renaissance, has been created since 1480. In dealing with Donatello, the latter developed a concise three-dimensional formal language (equestrian statue of Colleone, Venice, 1480 ff.). The work of Benedetto da Maiano became particularly important to Michelangelo. The most important sculptor outside of Florence in the first third of the century was the Sienese Jacopo della Quercia (reliefs on San Petronio in Bologna, 1425 ff.). Around the middle of the century, the early Renaissance finally spread to central and northern Italy, to which Donatello’sactivities in Padua (1443–53) made a decisive contribution. B. continued to work in the cabaret of A. Riccio. In Venice, masters who immigrated from Lombardy (P. Lombardo, A. Rizzo) developed a style that was strongly oriented towards antiquity, especially in the area of tomb art.
Painting: In painting, even in Florence at the beginning of the Quattrocento, the style of international Gothic was more decisive than in sculpture (Lorenzo Monaco, Masolino). Traveling artists such as Gentile da Fabriano and especially Pisanellowith his lively studies of nature spread the soft style, already combined with realistic elements, across northern and central Italy. The radical change in painting took place in the third decade in Florence with the work of Masaccio, based on Giottoresorted to, but its “stage space” opened up to a large extent through a rationally founded experience of nature (above all by means of the central perspective). With the purely painterly means of color and light, he gives his figures physical volume and the freedom to act in a perspective clarified atmospheric space continuum (frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine, around 1426). His Trinity fresco in Santa Maria Novella (around 1426–28) shows the space of modern painting, constructed in a linear perspective. His novel means of representation were initially taken up only hesitantly: Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi did use them, but retained the traditional harmony of color and line. P. Uccellos Werk is shaped by his interest in perspective experimentation. Perspective space is also of great importance for Andrea del Castagno, who ties in with Donatello in his expressive figure style that emphasizes plasticity. B. Gozzoli retained the colorful multi-figuration. A certain plastic hardness with strict local colors is evident in the works of Ghirlandaios and Filippino Lippi, while Leonardo already allowed the individual things to merge into an atmospheric whole (sfumato). Botticelli joined in the last third of the 15th centurywith his poetic mythological figure images. Outside of Florence, decisive contributions were made by v. a. done by Piero della Francesca, one of the most important painters and theorists of the Quattrocento, who studied with Domenico Veneziano in Florence. Using mathematical rules for foreshortening, he came up with extremely simplified figures that convey solemn calm in subtle colors in light-filled, clearly structured rooms (cycle of frescoes in San Francesco, Arezzo, 1451−66). The Umbrian school gave special importance to the landscape (Perugino). Worked around the turn of the century, influenced by Piero della Francesca and A. del Pollaiuolo, L. Signorelli, a master of moving nudes (frescoes in Orvieto Cathedral, 1499 ff.). – In Northern Italy, A. Mantegna was the leading artist after the middle of the 15th century; he combined suggestions from antiquity and Donatello’s with drastic realism to create an almost metallic, precise modeling of the figures. He used the perspective view from below (“di sotto in sù”) and created illusionistic room decorations (Camera degli Sposi in Mantua, 1474). Melozzo da Forlì, who worked in Rome, among others, achieved boldness in the perspective of spatial design. Melozzo’s frescoes are also not without the work of Piero conceivable like the plasticity of the pictorial language of the painting school of Ferrara (C. Tura, F. del Cossa and others), which combined Cossa with lyrical landscape spaces. Venice was shaped in the 15th century by the Bellini family of artists: As a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano, his father Jacopo Bellini still represented the Gothic trend; his son Gentile Bellini created the Venetian history picture as a lively narrator, which his pupil V. Carpaccio continued in an original way; the younger son Giovanni Bellini joined through the influence of his brother-in-law Mantegna the Florentine Early Renaissance. The stay of Antonello da Messina in Venice (1475/76), who was trained in the Dutch tradition, gave him essential stimuli, through which the color was given a new value.