The High Renaissance in Italy Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael

The High Renaissance in Italy
• Da Vinci,
• Michelangelo
• Raphael
Leonardo da Vinci – the
Renaissance Man
• The term “renaissance man” is used to describe
someone who has a wide variety of interests, and
expertise in many fields.
• Leonardo da Vinci was the quintessential renaissance
man. He was a painter, sculptor, inventor, architect,
musician, engineer, and scientist.
• He is widely recognized as a genius of the highest level.
• Historians tell us that he was not only intellectually gifted,
but that he was noble in appearance and manners as
Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper 1495 - 1498
• Thank you Samantha and Lauren for
introducing this work to us.
• The Last Supper was painted on the wall
of the refectory (dining hall) in the
monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in
Milan, Italy
• The Last Supper measures 450 × 870
centimeters (15 feet × 29 ft)
• Christ is depicted here with his disciples at
the last meal he shared with them before
his crucifixion. We are shown the moment
after Jesus has announced that one of the
disciples will betray him.
• The disciples react with dismay, and their
gestures show their disbelief and concern.
• Notice how effectively Da Vinci leads the
viewer’s eye to Jesus:
– By centering Jesus
– By using the lines of perspective in the walls and
– By framing Jesus’ head in the window
– By isolating Jesus, while all other figures are grouped
and overlapping
– By following the gazes and gestures of the disciples
– By contrasting Jesus’ stillness with the agitation of the
other figures
Disasters plague The Last Supper
• The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the world,
but it has not been well preserved.
• Shortly after Da Vinci finished the painting it began to peel off the
wall. (Da Vinci did not use the fresco technique; instead, he sealed
the surface of the wall and painted on top of it.)
• Several attempts by lesser artists were made to restore it, and parts
of it were painted over with oil paints.
• At one point a door was cut into the wall below the picture, partly
cutting off the bottom of the painting.
• During the Napoleonic wars, when the monastery was used as an
armory, soldiers threw their boots at Judas.
• During WWII, the dining hall suffered a direct hit in a Nazi bombing
• The painting was covered by a canvas, but trapped moisture caused
fungus to grow on the surface of the painting.
Leonardo da Vinci
Mona Lisa (La Giaconda) 1503
• Mona was an abbreviation of madonna,
meaning “my lady,” the equivalent of Madame,
or Signora. So the title means Madame Lisa.
• Lisa became the wife of a Florentine silk
merchant at the age of 16. She was 24 years old
when the portrait was completed.
• Da Vinci worked on it for four years and kept it
with him until he died at age 50.
• The painting was stolen from the Louvre in
1911 by a former Louvre employee and
rediscovered in a hotel room in Florence 2
years later.
Mona Lisa, A Prototype for
Renaissance Portraiture
• The portrait is a prototype of the Renaissance portrait.
In other words, Da Vinci introduced a new way of
painting portraits.
• He used both linear and aerial perspective in the
• He used a relaxed, natural, three-quarter pose which
was a departure from the stiff profile head and shoulders
portraits which had become the norm at that time.
• He used a technique known as sfumato, (smoke)
building the painting with layers of semi-transparent
glazes, so the expression on the model’s face, especially
her smile, is softly ambiguous, or mysterious.
Leonardo da Vinci
The Madonna of the Rocks
• There are 2 versions of this painting, one
in the Louvre, in Paris, and one at the
National Gallery, in London.
• The scene refers to a legend that Jesus
and John the Baptist met up as infants on
the road to Egypt, fleeing Herod’s decree
that all Jewish infants under the age of two
years must be murdered.
• The cross and halos that are absent in the
first version (the Louvre version) were
possibly added to the London version by
another artist, to make identification of the
two child figures easier.
• The pool of water foreshadows John’s role
as the one who will baptize Jesus.
Leonardo da Vinci
The Virgin and St. Anne
• Da Vinci shows us three
generations of the Holy
Family here in an intimate
and relaxed moment.
The Virgin Mary sits in
her mother’s lap (St.
Anne), and reaches
lovingly toward Jesus,
who plays with a lamb.
The lamb, of course,
symbolizes Jesus’ future
role as a sacrifice for all
Leonardo da Vinci
Cecilia Gallerani 1489 - 1490
• The Lady with the Ermine was painted in oils on wooden
• Cecilia Gallerani was the mistress of Leonardo's
employer, Lodovico Sforza
• At the time of her portrait, Cecilia was about sixteen.
• was renowned for her beauty, her scholarship, and her
poetry. She was betrothed at the age of about ten years
to a young nobleman of the house of Visconti but the
marriage was called off. Cecilia became the mistress of
the Duke and bore him a son, but he chose to marry a
girl from a more noble family, Beatrice d'Este.[3]
• Cecilia's dress is comparatively simple,
revealing that she is not a noblewoman.
Her coiffure, known as a "coazone",
confines her hair smoothly to her head
with two bands of hair bound on either
side of her face and a long plait at the
back. Her hair is held in place by a fine
gauze veil with a woven border of goldwound threads, a black band and a sheath
over the plait.
Why an Ermine?
• There are several interpretations of the significance of
the ermine in her portrait. The ermine was a traditional
symbol of purity because it was believed that an ermine
would face death rather than soil its white coat by hiding
in a muddy burrow.
• For Ludovico il Moro the ermine had a further personal
significance in that he had been in the Order of the
Ermine in 1488 and used it as a personal symbol.
• Given that Cecilia gave birth to a son acknowledged by
Lodovico in May of 1491, and the association of weasels
and pregnancy in Italian Renaissance culture, it is also
possible that the animal was a symbol of Cecilia's
Leonardo da Vinci – La Belle
• This is one of only four portraits of women
by Leonardo da Vinci.
• It is thought by some art historians that
this woman was another mistress of the
Duke of Milan.
Leonardo da Vinci
• Vitruvian Man 1487
• The Vitruvian Man
remains one of the
most referenced and
reproduced artistic
images in the world
• Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned
drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci
around the year 1487. It is accompanied
by notes based on the work of the famed
classical architect, Vitruvius, for which it is
• The drawing and text are sometimes
called the Canon of Proportions or, less
often, Proportions of Man.
• According to Leonardo's notes, (written in
mirror writing), it was made as a study of
the proportions of the (male) human body
as described in Vitruvius. For example:
– the length of a man's outspread arms (arm
span) is equal to his height
– the distance from the top of the head to the
bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man's
height etc. (ie. The figure is 8 heads high)
• The Renaissance was a period in which
the human form was recognized as noble,
made in the image of God. Mankind was
seen as “the measure of all things,” and
human proportions were thought to
correspond with measurements found in
the natural world and in the structure of
the universe
Leonardo da Vinci
drawing of a woman’s head
Da Vinci the medical researcher –
study of a fetus
Leonardo da Vinci
anatomical drawing – human lungs
Da Vinci the inventor – sketch
design of a helicopter
• "In every block of marble I see a statue
as plain as though it stood before me,
shaped and perfect in attitude and
action. I have only to hew away the
rough walls that imprison the lovely
apparition to reveal it to the other eyes
as mine see it."—Michelangelo
• Michelangelo’s David.
• This statue is perhaps
the most iconic image
of the Renaissance
• Michelangelo’s statue
stands 17 feet high
(about 3 metres)
• "In it may be seen most beautiful contours of legs, with
attachments of limbs and slender outlines of flanks that
are divine; nor has there ever been seen a pose so easy,
or any grace to equal that in this work, or feet, hands and
head so well in accord, one member with another, in
harmony, design, and excellence of artistry. And, of a
truth, whoever has seen this work need not trouble to
see any other work executed in sculpture, either in our
own or in other times, by no matter what craftsman."
Giorgio Vasari 1550
Michelangelo’s David
• It was sculpted between1501 and 1504.
• Michelangelo was only twenty-six years old,
when he won the commission to complete the
statue from a block of marble (the giant) that
had been abandoned 30 years earlier by
another artist.
• When it was finished, David was placed in front
of the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, the town
hall. In 1873 the statue was moved from the
piazza, to protect it from damage, and brought to
its current location in the Academia Gallery, in
A Classic Pose
• David is a Renaissance interpretation of a common
ancient Greek theme of the standing heroic male nude.
• In the High Renaissance, contrapposto poses were
thought of as a distinctive feature of antique sculpture. In
David, the figure stands with one leg holding its full
weight and the other leg relaxed. This classic pose
causes the figure’s hips and shoulders to rest at opposite
angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso. This
curve gives the figure its classical grace.
• Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most
recognized pieces of Renaissance sculpture, becoming
a symbol of both strength and youthful human beauty.
• Traditionally, David was portrayed after his
victory, triumphant over the giant Goliath. Both
Verrochio’s and Donatello’s Davids are depicted
standing over Goliath's severed head.
• Michelangelo has depicted David before the
battle. Davis is tense, but not so much in a
physical as in a mental sense. The slingshot he
carries over his shoulder is almost invisible,
emphasizing that David's victory was one of
cleverness, not sheer force.
• The hand that holds
the stone is larger
than the other,
drawing the viewer’s
attention to the action
that is about to unfold.
Facing down the enemy
• Michelangelo was a citizen of the city state of
Firenze (Florence), and Florence was
surrounded by much more powerful enemy city
• When the statue of David was placed on the
square in front of the city hall, the people of
Florence immediately identified with him as the
cunning underdog triumphing over the big bad
guy. David was positioned so that his glare was
directed south, toward the rival city of Rome.
Michelangelo - Moses
Michelangelo’s Moses
• This statue was commissioned by Pope
Julius II for Julius’ tomb.
• It was one of 40 figures that were intended
to adorn the tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The tomb ended up in a smaller church,
with only a third of the originally planned
• Moses, sculpted in marble, has horns on his
head, in the manner that was traditional in
medieval depictions of Moses (tongs of fire
according to the bible).
• Horns were symbolic of authority in ancient Near
Eastern culture, and the medieval depiction had
the advantage of giving Moses a convenient
attribute by which he could easily be recognized
in crowded pictures.
Michelangelo – Pieta
• Pieta means ‘Pity,’ and this is certainly the
emotion that this magnificent sculpture
• We feel pity for Christ’s suffering, but also
for his grieving mother, who holds her
son’s body in an attitude of quiet
Michelangelo’s Pieta
• The Pieta balances the Renaissance ideals of
classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is
one of the most highly finished works by
• The structure is pyramidal. The statue widens
progressively down the drapery of Mary's dress,
to the base. The figures are quite out of
proportion, owing to the difficulty of depicting a
fully-grown man cradled full-length in a woman's
lap. By concealing much of Mary's body in her
monumental drapery, Michelangelo made the
relationship of the figures appear quite natural.
• Note that Michelangelo's sculpted a young and
beautiful Mary rather than an older woman. One
explanation for this is that her youth symbolizes
her incorruptible purity. Another is that Mary is
really seeing her child, the infant Jesus, while
the viewer is seeing an image of the future.
• The marks of the crucifixion are limited to very
small nail marks and an indication of the wound
in Jesus' side.
Michelangelo as a Painter:
The Sistine Chapel
• The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican City
in Rome, attached to St. Peter’s Basilica, the papal
apartments and the vast complex of buildings that make
up the Vatican museums.
• Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to
paint the ceiling of the chapel. He resisted, as he
preferred sculpture to painting, but had to do as he was
• The works are frescoes, (painted into fresh plaster) and
they cover about 4,000 square metres of ceiling.
• Michelangelo built scaffolding so that he could work on
his back, and laboured over the frescoes from 1508
The Sistine Chapel
The Creation of Adam (The Sistine
• Thank you Jon, for introducing this work to
Interpretations of The Creation of
• It has been suggested that the background
figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure
of God bear a striking similarity to a cross
section of the human brain, including the frontal
lobe, optic chiasm, brain stem, pituitary gland,
and the major sulci of the cerebrum.
• Alternatively, it has been observed that the red
cloth around God has the shape of a human
uterus and that the scarf hanging out, colored
green, could be a newly cut umbilical cord.
• Both of these interpretations suggest the
mystery of creation – in the mind, where ideas
are born, and in the womb, where life originates.
• The painting depicts the symbolic birth of the
human race, as God reaches out to give the
breath of life to Adam, the first man, reclining on
the newly made earth.
• Under God’s left arm is Eve, as yet unborn.
• Michelangelo’s fascination with and his
familiarity with human anatomy are in evidence
Sistine Chapel – The Temptation of
Adam and Eve (The Sistine
Michelangelo – The Sistine Chapel
The Last Judgment
• The Last Judgment is on the altar wall of the
Sistine Chapel. It took four years to
complete(1537 to 1541). Michelangelo began
working on it three decades after finishing the
ceiling of the chapel.
• The work is massive and spans the entire wall
behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The Last
Judgment is a depiction of the Second Coming
of Christ and the apocalypse. The souls of
humans rise and descend to their fates, as
judged by Christ surrounded by his saints.
• The Last Judgment was a source of conflict between
Cardinal Carafa and Michelangelo: the artist was
accused of obscenity, having depicted naked figures,
inside the most important church of Christianity,)
• When the Pope's own Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da
Cesena, said that it was no work for a papal chapel but
rather "for the public baths and taverns," Michelangelo
worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of
the underworld (far bottom-right corner of the painting)
with Donkey ears {i.e. foolishness} while his nudity is
covered by a coiled snake.
• It is said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the
pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell, so
the portrait would have to remain
Detail from The Last Judgement –
• In the painting, Michelangelo does a self
portrait depicting himself as St.
Bartholomew after he had been flayed
(skinned alive). This is reflective of the
feelings of contempt Michelangelo had for
being commissioned to paint The Last
Michelangelo as an Architect:
The dome of St. Peter’s in Rome
• The dome of St.
Peter’s Basilica,
St Peter’s Square - Rome
Raphael Sanzo
• 8 years younger than
• Interested in
archeology, he
became an expert in
ancient Roman art.
• Commissioned to
decorate the state
rooms in the Vatican
at the same time that
Michelangelo was
working on the Sistine
Chapel frescoes.
• Raphael, unlike Michelangelo, was well
mannered, well dressed, well liked.
• He always carried around a sketch book in
which he constantly sketched women and
children. These sketches formed the basis of
his many Madonnas.
• He was influenced by Perugino to use soft
colours, simple circular forms, and gentle
landscapes in his paintings.
• He is best remembered for his madonnas, his
portrayals of the Virgin with the infant Jesus.
The Sistine Madonna
Raphael – The Sistine Madonna
(detail of the angels)
• Raphael’s madonnas seem simple and
effortless, but their apparent simplicity is
the fruit of deep thought, careful planning
and immense artistic wisdom. A painting
like Raphael's 'Madonna dell Granduca', is
truly 'classical' in the sense that it has
served countless generations as a
standard of perfection in the same way as
the works of the classical sculptors
Pheidias and Praxiteles.
• The Madonna del
The way the Virgin's face is modeled
and recedes into the shade, the way
Raphael makes us feel the volume of
the body wrapped in the freely flowing
mantle, the firm and tender way in
which she holds and supports the
Christ Child - all this contributes to the
effect of perfect poise…to change the
group ever so slightly would upset the
whole harmony. Yet there is nothing
strained or sophisticated in the
composition. It looks as if it could not
be otherwise, and as if it had so
existed from the beginning of time.
Raphael – Madonna della Sedia 1514
Raphael – The Alba Madonna 1500
Raphael – The Madonna of the
Meadow 1505
• Raphael – The
• 1505
Raphael – The School at Athens
• Thank you Erica and Chiara for
introducing us to this work.
Raphael – The School at Athens.
• Raphael’s famous fresco decorates a wall in the
papal palace at the Vatican, in Rome.
• He depicts famous figures from various fields of
knowledge, with the Greek philosophers, Plato
and Aristotle at the centre of the composition.
Plato is shown with Leonardo da Vinci’s
• Also included in the painting are Socrates
(another philosopher), Alexander the Great
(military genius) and Pythagoras and Euclid
• Raphael has also paid
tribute to his fellow artist,
Michelangelo, by placing
him in the foreground.
• The work is a brilliant
demonstration of the
technique of linear (line)
perspective. The
architectural space
recedes infinitely through
the arches of the marble
hall to the open sky
Related flashcards

Renaissance music

35 cards

16th-century paintings

19 cards

Paintings by Titian

55 cards

Paintings by Raphael

33 cards

Create Flashcards