Italian Renaissance

RenaissanceRenaissance ItalyItalian
The most famous painters from this phase are Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo and their images, including Leonardo's the Last Supper and Mona Lisa, Raphael's The School of Athens and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling are the masterpieces of the period and among the most widely known works of art in the world. High Renaissance painting evolved into Mannerism, especially in Florence. Mannerist artists, who consciously rebelled against the principles of High Renaissance, tend to represent elongated figures in illogical spaces. Modern scholarship has recognized the capacity of Mannerist art to convey strong (often religious) emotion where the High Renaissance failed to do so.

Piero della Francesca

Pierodella Francesca, PieroFrescoes
Piero's work on solid geometry was translated in Pacioli’s De divina proportione, a work illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci. Biographers of his patron Federico da Montefeltro of Urbino record that he was encouraged to pursue the interest in perspective which was shared by the Duke. In the late 1450s, Piero copied and illustrated the following works of Archimedes: On the Sphere and Cylinder, Measurement of a Circle, On Conoids and Spheroids, On Spirals, On the Equilibrium of Planes, The Quadrature of the Parabola, and The Sand Reckoner.

Paolo Uccello

UccelloUcelloUccello''' Paolo
In particular, some of his studies of the perspective foreshortening of the torus are preserved, and one standard display of drawing skill was his depiction of the mazzocchio. In the words of G. C. Argan: "Paolo's rigour is similar to the rigour of Cubists in the early 20th century, whose images were more true when they were less true to life. Paolo constructs space through perspective, and historic event through the structure of space; if the resulting image is unnatural and unrealistic, so much the worse for nature and history." The perspective in his paintings has influenced many famous painters, such as Piero della Francesca, Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few.

Albrecht Dürer

DürerDürer, AlbrechtAlbrecht Durer
Finally, Dürer discusses the Delian Problem and moves on to the 'construzione legittima', a method of depicting a cube in two dimensions through linear perspective. It was in Bologna that Dürer was taught (possibly by Luca Pacioli or Bramante) the principles of linear perspective, and evidently became familiar with the 'costruzione legittima' in a written description of these principles found only, at this time, in the unpublished treatise of Piero della Francesca. He was also familiar with the 'abbreviated construction' as described by Alberti and the geometrical construction of shadows, a technique of Leonardo da Vinci.

Leon Battista Alberti

AlbertiLeone Battista AlbertiAlbertian
"And Leonardo Da Vinci was to Alberti as the finisher to the beginner, as the master to the dilettante. Would only that Vasari's work were here supplemented by a description like that of Alberti! The colossal outlines of Leonardo's nature can never be more than dimly and distantly conceived." Alberti is said to be in Mantegna's great frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi, the older man dressed in dark red clothes, who whispers in the ear of Ludovico Gonzaga, the ruler of Mantua. In Alberti's self-portrait, a large plaquette, he is clothed as a Roman. To the left of his profile is a winged eye. On the reverse side is the question, Quid tum?


FlorentineFirenzeFlorence, Italy
Medieval art was abstract, formulaic, and largely produced by monks whereas Renaissance art was rational, mathematical, individualistic, consisted of linear perspective and shading (Chiaroscuro) and produced by specialists (Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael). Religion was important, but with this new age came the humanization of religious figures in art, such as Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Ecce Homo (Bosch, 1470s), and Madonna Della Seggiola; People of this age began to understand themselves as human beings, which reflected in art.

Luca Pacioli

PacioliPacioli, LucaLuca Paccioli
Leonardo da Vinci drew the illustrations of the regular solids in Divina proportione while he lived with and took mathematics lessons from Pacioli. Leonardo's drawings are probably the first illustrations of skeletal solids, which allowed an easy distinction between front and back. The work also discusses the use of perspective by painters such as Piero della Francesca, Melozzo da Forlì, and Marco Palmezzano. As a side note, the "M" logo used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is taken from Divina proportione. List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics. Della mercatura e del mercante perfetto.

Florence Baptistery

BaptisteryBattistero di San GiovanniBaptistery of San Giovanni
Rustici may have been aided in his design by Leonardo da Vinci, who assisted him in the choice of his tools. Ghiberti was now widely recognized as a celebrity and the top artist in this field. He was showered with commissions, even from the pope. In 1425 he got a second commission, this time for the east doors of the baptistery, on which he and his workshop (including Michelozzo and Benozzo Gozzoli) toiled for 27 years, excelling themselves. These had ten panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament, and were in turn installed on the east side. The panels are large rectangles and are no longer embedded in the traditional Gothic quatrefoil, as in the previous doors.

Aerial perspective

atmospheric perspectiveaerialatmospheric effects
Aerial perspective was used in paintings from the Netherlands in the 15th century, and explanations of its effects were with varying degrees of accuracy written by polymaths such as Leon Battista Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci. The latter used aerial perspective in many of his paintings such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Atmospheric perspective was used in Pompeian Second Style paintings, one of the Pompeian Styles, dating as early as 30 BCE. A notable example is the Gardenscape from the Villa of Livia in Primaporta, Italy. The major component affecting the appearance of objects during daylight is scattering of light, called skylight, into the line of sight of the viewer.

Mathematics and art

mathematical artmathematics of artartistic and imaginative pursuit
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) illustrated the text with woodcuts of regular solids while he studied under Pacioli in the 1490s. Leonardo's drawings are probably the first illustrations of skeletonic solids. These, such as the rhombicuboctahedron, were among the first to be drawn to demonstrate perspective by being overlaid on top of each other. The work discusses perspective in the works of Piero della Francesca, Melozzo da Forlì, and Marco Palmezzano. Da Vinci studied Pacioli's Summa, from which he copied tables of proportions. In Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, Da Vinci's work incorporated linear perspective with a vanishing point to provide apparent depth.

Science and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

conceptda Vinci Bridgeda Vinci's flying machine
List of works by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci's personal life. The Art of War: Leonardo da Vinci's War Machines. Complete text & images of Richter's translation of the Notebooks. Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design (review). Some digitized notebook pages with explanations from the British Library (Non HTML5 Available). Digital and animated compendium of anatomy notebook pages. BBC Leonardo homepage. Leonardo da Vinci: The Leicester Codex. Leonardo's Letter to Ludovico Sforza. Animations of anamorphosis of Leonardo and other artists. The Invention of the Parachute. Da Vinci - The Genius: A comprehensive traveling exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci.

Pietro Perugino

PeruginoPerugino, PietroP. Perugino
According to Vasari, he was apprenticed to the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio alongside Leonardo da Vinci, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi, Filippino Lippi and others. Piero della Francesca is thought to have taught him perspective form. In 1472, he must have completed his apprenticeship since he was enrolled as a master in the Confraternity of St Luke. Pietro, although very talented, was not extremely enthusiastic about his work. Perugino was one of the earliest Italian practitioners of oil painting.

Adoration of the Magi (Leonardo)

Adoration of the MagiThe Adoration of the MagiAdoration of the Magi'' (Leonardo da Vinci)
Rediscovering Leonardo, Osher UCSD Distinguished Lecture Series, June 2008. Da Vinci Decoded, UCSD Alumni, Jan 2006. Adoration of the Magi at the BBC. Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, exhibition catalog fully online as PDF from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Adoration of the Magi (see index).

Divina proportione

On the Divine Proportion
Divina proportione (Divine proportion), later also called De divina proportione (The divine proportion) is a book on mathematics written by Luca Pacioli and illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci, composed around 1498 in Milan and first printed in 1509. Its subject was mathematical proportions (the title refers to the golden ratio) and their applications to geometry, visual art through perspective, and architecture. The clarity of the written material and Leonardo's excellent diagrams helped the book to achieve an impact beyond mathematical circles, popularizing contemporary geometric concepts and images.


anamorphicanamorphic artanamorphic column
Yet once both had been mounted on pillars, the decelerated perspective made Phidias' Minerva beautiful and Alcamenes' ugly. During the Renaissance, artists' experimentation with optics and perspective lead to more advanced development of anamorphic imagery. At this time, religious thought and science were equally important to the technique's growth in Europe. The earliest known example, known as Leonardo's Eye, was executed by Leonardo da Vinci and is included in the Codex Atlanticus (1483-1518). He later completed several large-scale anamorphic commissions for the King of France.

Renaissance technology

Renaissanceartist-engineers of the timenew medium of print
Science and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. Chariot clock.

Early Netherlandish painting

Early NetherlandishEarly Netherlandish painterNetherlandish
He was anomalous in that he largely forewent realistic depictions of nature, human existence and perspective, while his work is almost entirely free of Italian influences. His better-known works are instead characterised by fantastical elements that tend towards the hallucinatory, drawing to some extent from the vision of hell in van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych. Bosch followed his own muse, tending instead towards moralism and pessimism.

Andrea Mantegna

MantegnaA. MantegnaMantegna, Andrea
Leonardo da Vinci took from Mantegna the use of decorations with festoons and fruit. Mantegna's main legacy in considered the introduction of spatial illusionism, both in frescoes and in sacra conversazione paintings: his tradition of ceiling decoration was followed for almost three centuries. Starting from the faint cupola of the Camera degli Sposi, Correggio built on the research of his master and collaborator into perspective constructions, producing eventually a masterwork like the dome of Cathedral of Parma. Mantegna's only known sculpture is a "Sant'Eufemia" in the Cathedral of Irsina, Basilicata. * Berger, John and Katya, Lying Down to Sleep. Corraini Edizioni. 2010.

Italian Renaissance painting

Italian RenaissanceEarly RenaissanceItalian Renaissance painter
Many cite Leonardo da Vinci's the Last Supper, started in 1495 and completed in 1498, as being the first work of the High Renaissance. In his book, A History of Art: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, 1985, Frederick Hartt states that 1520 to 1530 was a transition period between the High Renaissance and Mannerism. The High Renaissance was dominated by three painters - Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael; while Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and Titian were the leaders of Venetian High Renaissance painting, with Correggio and Andrea de Sarto being other significant painters of the High Renaissance style.

Curvilinear perspective

curvilinearCurvilinear Perspectivescurvilinear projection
Curvilinear perspective is a graphical projection used to draw 3D objects on 2D surfaces. It was formally codified in 1968 by the artists and art historians André Barre and Albert Flocon in the book La Perspective curviligne, which was translated into English in 1987 as Curvilinear Perspective: From Visual Space to the Constructed Image and published by the University of California Press. Earlier, less mathematically precise versions can be seen in the work of the miniaturist Jean Fouquet. Leonardo da Vinci in a lost notebook spoke of curved perspective lines.


In Italy artists like Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Filippo Lippi, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Titian took painting to a higher level through the use of perspective, the study of human anatomy and proportion, and through their development of an unprecedented refinement in drawing and painting techniques. Michelangelo was an active sculptor from about 1500 to 1520, and his great masterpieces including his David, Pietà, Moses.

De pictura

Della pittura
His treatment of perspective was the most influential of his recommendations, being powerfully implemented by Leonardo da Vinci, and through him to the whole Italian renaissance. Alberti made at least 29 uses of Pliny the Elder's Natural History, deriving his key themes of simplicity and seriousness directly from Pliny. For example, Alberti advised artists to use colour with restraint, and to paint in the effect of gold rather than using actual gold in their paintings. Gold did indeed vanish from Italian paintings of the second part of the 15th century. Artists however found their own ways to paint with restraint, rather than following Alberti's actual instructions directly.

Human body

bodyhuman anatomyhuman physiology
In the Italian Renaissance, artists from Piero della Francesca (c. 1415–1492) onwards, including Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and his collaborator Luca Pacioli (c. 1447–1517), learnt and wrote about the rules of art, including visual perspective and the proportions of the human body. In Ancient Greece, the Hippocratic Corpus described the anatomy of the skeleton and muscles. The 2nd century physician Galen of Pergamum compiled classical knowledge of anatomy into a text that was used throughout the Middle Ages. In the Renaissance, Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) pioneered the modern study of human anatomy by dissection, writing the influential book De humani corporis fabrica.


Aristotle (Aristotélēs,; 384–322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidiki, Greece. Along with Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". Aristotle provided a complex and harmonious synthesis of the various existing philosophies prior to him, including those of Socrates and Plato, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its fundamental intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be central to the contemporary philosophical discussion.