In the short period of the High Renaissance from around 1490 to around 1510/20, Rome, where Bramante, Michelangelo and Raffael carried out commissions for Pope Julius II, became the artistic center. It is both a summary of the goals of the 15th century and a powerful new beginning. The representation of the visible world as a stereometric perspective order is expanded to include the understanding of organic nature. The »Non finito«, the unfinished work, is characteristic of Leonardo and Michelangelo in the search for the perfect form in which all mental and organic movement merges. For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Philosophynearby.
Architecture: Compared to the Quattrocento, the architecture of the High Renaissance is characterized by the more conscious use of ancient column arrangements, greater plasticity of the structure and the extreme clarity of the proportions. The leitmotif of the epoch was the harmoniously calm central building, which culminated in the designs of Bramante and Michelangelo for the new building of St. Peter in Rome (1506 following). Bramante’s Tempietto by San Pietro in Montorio in Rome (1502) is exemplary of the High Renaissance in its classic, perfect proportions and was of great importance for further development. Presumably Bramante received from Leonardo in MilanImportant suggestions: His central building designs, created during his time in Milan, found an almost identical realization in the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in Todi (1508 ff.; the design came from Bramante’s pupil Cola da Caprarola, * 1508, † 1604). In addition to churches, there were city palaces (Palazzo Farnese, Rome, 1513 ff., By A. da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo) and villas (Villa Madama, Rome, 1516 ff., By Raffael, A. da Sangallo the Elder, Giulio Romano, etc.) important construction tasks.
Plastic: In quantitative terms, plastic is noticeably receding from the 15th century. The main representative is the young Michelangelo. In it, the Quattrocento’s striving for a statuary on a par with the ancient figure was completed. His David (Florence; 1501-04) radiates restrained energy. The fame of this first post-antique larger-than-life free figure, depicted not as a victor, but in the highest concentration before the fight, led to the commission for the Julius tomb (since 1506) in Rome, for which 1513-16 the Moses and two slaves were created, whose captivity Michelangelo as represented human imprisonment in matter.
Painting: The High Renaissance found its greatest development in painting. For Leonardo, the epitome of the universal genius of the Renaissance, painting and science are inextricably linked. The study of anatomy, proportion theory and perspective as well as the direct view of nature are important prerequisites for him; However, he sees the greatest importance in the creative act. In emphasizing the artistic idea, he made a decisive step towards the autonomy of art and a new evaluation of drawing (Disegno). In their balance of calm and movement, of content and form, his paintings are ideal examples of classical perfection (Last Supper in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, around 1495–98) and were understood as such by his contemporaries.
Both his balanced, rich compositional arrangement as well as his style of painting (sfumato), which modeled in the finest transitions, were of great importance in terms of development. Raffael led Leonardo’s compositional principle of artistically interlaced groups of figures in numerous Madonna pictures and v. a. in the Stanza della Segnatura (1508–11) in the Vatican to great mastery. His name became a symbol of the artistic connection between harmony and beauty, sovereignty and dignity. Michelangelo, who also created powerful sculptural figures as a painter, created an ingenious combination of free-plastic and pictorial-painterly illusions in the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel (1508–12) with the help of pseudo-architecture.
In the field of panel painting, Venice held onto the classical ideals of the High Renaissance longer than art in central Italy and went its own way in evaluating color in painting. Already echoed in the late work of Giovanni Bellini, continued by Giorgione and v. a. Tizian, color won the primacy over all other means of design, even over the drawing, which up to now had taken the first place. Another new feature was the highlighting of a landscape that embodies Arcadian conditions in an atmospheric unity with humans.