The Italian renaissance was as the name implies the rebirth of painting. Thisdoes not imply that all the advances of painting came from this period but thatthe masters learned to combine new and old. The list of artist who contributedto the advancement in painting during the renaissance is as diverse as thepaintings. The Black Death (bubonic and pneumonic plague) caused an actualdecline in art from the prosperity of the high Middle Ages. The plague killedalmost a third of the people in Europe and the renaissance was the firstadvancement in the arts after this terrible devastation.
The capital of theTuscany region of Italy was Florence and this is where many of the newrenaissance artist were trained. The renaissance, broadly considered covered theyears between 1400 and 1600, although specialist do disagree on these dates.During this period artist were no longer regarded as mere artisans, as they hadbeen in the past but were now considered independent personalities.
Masacciomade notable advances in the styles of paintings such as perspective, space, andsurrounding his subjects in light and air. The next great step was in themellowness and richness of colors used by Bellini. The complex strokes of colormake the surrounding light and air almost inseparable from the figures. Belliniwas a great artist and teacher who brought Venetian art onto the scene to thepoint that it was at the forefront of the Renaissance. The Painter SandroBotticelli comes along as the next great painter after Masaccio. When you lookat the painting Primavera 1482, you see the new, sharply contoured, slender formand rippling sinuous line that is synonymous with Botticelli. In the paintingBotticelli catches the freshness of an early spring morning, with the pale lightshining through the tall, straight trees, already laden with their golden fruit.
The two paintings that are said to epitomize the renaissance are the Mona Lisa(1503-06) and the Last Supper (1495-97) by the master Leonardo da Vinci who wasthe elder of the Florentine masters. The observation of nature, firsthandinvestigations, and experimentation is what set him apart from his peers earlyon. Like Shakespeare he came from an insignificant background and fittinglydescribed as a genius. The art of perspective was used extensively by Florentineartist Paolo Ucello (Paolo di Dono, 1397-1475), and this was shown very well inhis painting The Hunt in the Forest, 1460s. The painting shows how well heused perspective the way everything in it is organized upon a distant and almostunseen stag, a vanishing stag: the vanishing point. The art of perspective isthe representation of solid objects and three-dimensional space in accordancewith our optical perception of these things. We actually see the world inperspective the way things get smaller as they are farther away.
During theRenaissance northern Italy was one of the wealthiest regions in Europe. Genoaand Venice both had populations of around 100,000 by 1400 and were the maincenters of trade. Florence, with a population of 55,000 was the center formanufacture and distribution.
The renaissance continued with many great paintersimproving the different styles and colors in the fantastic world of painting andart.