He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.

- Leonardo da Vinci


What a way to begin the month. A freakin’ post about a bygone era. Ah well, might as well be researching about this rather than looking for the zillionth science fiction/fantasy artist, right? I jest.

Patron of d’Arts is a series of posts that is aimed to educate me on the very basics of the works of the “Masters”. Y'know, masters like Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and all those other guys you heard about while sleeping in art class. I decided to begin this series during the Renaissance, Era of Classicism a time when man was truly in touch with God. Or at least, they sa they were.

Madonna of the Harpies
Some kind of masterpiece / altatpiece made for some nuns

So when did this so called “High Renaissance” era occur? Well folks, it allegedly happened sometime around 1450-1550 or 1500-1530, but one can't be too sure... Oh well. It was, as someone put it, a time when the artist had perfected chiaroscuto (shading) and other techniques, and achieved the photo real. It was said in some book that the best- known artists of the Italian Renaissance grew famous during the High Renaissance. As usual, only the rich and well fed could or would support these artists. I think I mentioned something about the Medici family in my last related post.

A site called “Gutenberg” mentioned the Renaissance as “..the grand consummation of Italian intelligence in many departments—the arrival at maturity of the Christian trained mind tempered by the philosophy of Greece, and the knowledge of the actual world. Fully aroused at last, the Italian intellect became inquisitive, inventive, scientific, skeptical—yes, treacherous, immoral, polluted. It questioned all things, doubted where it pleased, saturated itself with crime, corruption, and sensuality, yet bowed at the shrine of the beautiful and knelt at the altar of Christianity. It is an illustration of the contradictions that may exist when the intellectual, the religious and the moral are brought together, with the intellectual in predominance.

Titian Young Woman Combing Her Hair (1514)

So, basically everyone was hypocrites at the time. So who painted the good stuff? Well, there’s Titian. Yeah, “Titian”. Well, fine, his real name was Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (1485 – 1576), and he was like this leader of the 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian Renaissance. The man Titian isn’t important though. He’s just good with colors and composition. You can tell how influential these old painters simply by how popular their works are (Duh). Here’s two of his more notable accomplishments:

From Wikipedia: The Rape of Europa (1562) is a bold diagonal composition which was admired and copied by Rubens. In contrast to the clarity of Titian's early works, it is almost baroque in its blurred lines, swirling colors, and vibrant brushstrokes.

And yes, this pic is known as the Venus of Urbino. According to art historians, “the ‘frankness’ of Venus' expression has often been noted, seeing as she stares straight at the viewer, unconcerned with her nudity. In her right hand she holds a posy of flowers whilst her left covers her vulva, provocatively placed in the centre of the composition. In the near background a dog, symbolizing fidelity, is asleep.”

The Gutenberg site also states that “…in his 1880 travelogue A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain called the this painting "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses". He proposed that "it was painted for a bagnio and it was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong', adding humorously that "in truth, it is a trifle too strong for any place but a public art gallery". Funny guy.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Yeah, there was that Da Vinci guy. Leonardo da Vinci allegedly epitomized the renaissance ideal. He’s good, that’s all you needed to know.

From the Gutenberg, who can explain this a lot better than I can: “In 1482, Lorenzo de Medici purchased a lyre which Leonardo had fashioned in the shape of a horse's skull, intending to send it to Ludovico Sforza ofMil an. Leonardo asked to personally deliver the gift, and when he did, Sforza persuaded him to remain in Milan, where he painted his famous mural The Last Supper on the wall of a monastery.

Leonardo da Vinci the Swan or something or another

Leonardo da Vinci took full advantage of having all these wealthy bastards who wanted good art, traveling all over during his career, “..leaving every place he visited awed by his presence... His notebooks, recently published, contain ideas for such inventions as the scaling ladder, rotating bridge, submarine, armored vehicle, and helicopter, none of which were built until decades or centuries later.”

Another Madonna Pic
Leonardo remained in Milan seventeen years, returning to Florence in 1499 when the French invaded Milan. In Florence, he became chief military engineer, a position he held until 1513, when he went to Rome in search of a commission from the pope.

As an aside, I really wanted to buy this Da Vinci hardbound book, but it pisses me off that these books cost more than my basic salary. F**k that!

I used Google to find this image! *Groan*

Pope Leo X preferred the work of the painter Raphael, however, and Leonardo moved on, becoming court painter to Francis I of France, where he remained until his death in 1519. In addition to The Last Supper, Leonardo's best known work is the Mona Lisa, the most famous portrait ever painted. Many of da Vinci's greatest ideas remained just that, and he recorded his plans for future inventions and his notes on life around him in notebooks that have given historians insight into the true extent of his genius.”

Michaelangelo Buonarroti

Whoopee for Michaelangelo. According to Guntenberg yet again, “he enrolled in the school for sculptors established by Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, when he was only thirteen, and soon attracted the attention of Lorenzo himself. Michaelangelo lived for a while in the Medici palace as a member of the family, absorbing the principles of humanism and Neoplatonism that freely flourished there.

Pope Julius II wanted Michaelangelo to create a tomb for him. A grand monument with over forty statue. It took Mike eight months to select the stone. The Pope eventually got impatient and cancelled the project.

Later, Michaelangelo, inspired by the belief that he had a divine calling, traveled to Rome, where, at age 23, he carved the Pieta, a bust of the Virgin Mary, bringing him instant fame. When he returned to Florence in 1501, he was commissioned to sculpt the Hebrew King David, just as Donatello had. Michaelangelo's David became the symbol of Florence's prospering artists, and remains there today.

The Sistine Chapel?

I always dreamed of taking a tour around Europe. Oh well. I guess I should just make plans to visit this recreation in the game Second Life.

Second Life Sistine

In 1508, Michaelangelo began his work decorating the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. The project was arduous and time-consuming, and when he finished he had painted over 300 human figures. The painting of the ceiling has assumed legendary status and is considered one of the great artistic undertakings of all time.”


Now here’s Raphael, born Raffaello Santi. I typed this guy’s name on google, and that Raffaello name kept popping up. Now I know. Thank you, ignorance! Anyway, like what Gutenberg said, “Raff was the leading painter of the Renaissance. In 1508, Pope Julius II summoned him to Rome to decorate the papal apartments in the Vatican. The most widely known of the series of murals and frescoes he painted is the School of Athens, which depicts an imaginary assembly of famous philosophers.

Raphael - purest of all classical works, possessing serenity/harmony even when representing rigorous action

The Harmonist of the Renaissance is his title. And this harmony extended to a blending of thought, form, and expression, heightening or modifying every element until they ran together with such rhythm that it could not be seen where one left off and another began. He was the very opposite of Michael Angelo.

Raphael maintained the favor of the Julius II and his successor Leo X, and thus painted for papal commissions all his life. He was widely renowned as the greatest painter of his age, and considered so important by his contemporaries that when he died at the premature age of 37 he was buried in the Pantheon.”

Finally, we have good ol’ Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531) who was some Florentine pure and simple. He did a lot of madonnas and altar-pieces, and wasn’t religious himself. Gutensberg described this man more as a painter more than a pietist, and was called by his townsmen "the faultless painter." So he was as regards the technical features of his art.


He was the best brushman and colorist of the Florentine school.

Gutenberg sez’ “He was influenced by other painters to some extent. Masaccio, Ghirlandajo, and Michaelangelo were his models in drawing; Leonardo and Bartolommeo in contours; while in warmth of color, brush-work, atmospheric and landscape effects he was quite by himself. He had a large number of pupils and followers, but most of them deserted him later on to follow Michelangelo.” Yeah. That sucks.

So that' High Renaissance for ya'. It's badly research, woefully incomplete, but that's because you have to pay forty bucks for all the good essays. Will Baroque be next?

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  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Well done, MMG--and you included my favourite painting of all time, "The School of Athens," by Raphael. Damned if the colourfulness of the Athenian intellectuals isn't romanticised throughout, but with Plato and Aristotle at the centre, it's an inspiration to one who often wishes he could create such a scene in this world.

    What kind of person is this? Perhaps it is, as you so beautifully put it, of a gentleman whose self is filled with the "contradictions that may exist when the intellectual, the religious and the moral are brought together, with the intellectual in predominance."

    The intellectual seeks all answers, and when he does not find logic for everything which has ever occurred, he turns to the illogical--that is, religion. Hence the adoption of religion becomes logical even in the eyes of once-doubters. I know, for at this point in my life, I am precisely the same...

    In any case, you seem to be blossoming as well. This delving into classical art shows that you, as an artist, are beyond the norm which fills the world and thus, this reflection called "the Internet." By broadening your horizons, you too are an intellectual seeking answers to all problems, and with your rise in understanding, I certainly hope that it brings joy to your art as well!

  3. ChrisK Says:
  4. Yeah. Thanks, Void™. Pissed me off that I couldn't find more stuff about Renaissance in 15 minutes. I hate citing Wikipedia as a source.

    Anyway, you bring up a lot of great points about these high and mighty types. Pretty interesting how you rationalized intellectualism would eventually lead to the pursuance of the religious, in the absence of deeper "answers".

    Trust me, I'd sooner post about Master artists Ryan Church or Stephen Martinere if it weren't for the fact that even these guys tell young people to research about the "Masters" of ye olden days first.

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