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During the 14th century, when the beginning of the Renaissance took place, Florence was one of the main political, economic, and artistic cities in Europe. The Black Death, the plague that reduced the population of Florence, and the difficulties Florence encountered by this time explain the heavy influence of gothic style in architecture and the elegance found in every artwork created in this era. Florence was one of the top European cities when it came to painting, because it had the greatest school of painting where many important artists assisted.
Florence, throughout the years, has always been an important influence in history and art.
Even though many artists have a vast aspiration for art, each artist possesses his own criteria and methods that they acquired during the time in which they lived. Artists in Italy from the 1400s throughout 1900s shared many common techniques and skills that were characterized by their era. This period brings a new perspective of life to the European countries in the early fourteenth-century.
By this time, people in Italy thought that a new and contemporary era had begun with a new style in painting and architecture and a new evolution in music, science, philosophy, and literature as well.
Lorenzo di Credi, is an Italian painter who belonged to the Renaissance period of the 1400s. Lorenzo di Credi, who lived in Florence, was learning about this new era that had a huge impact in everyone’s life. This new era had an advanced development in society and a rise of civic culture.
A new sense of realism in art, new discoveries in the material world, and new more joyous vision of the world around them were taking place during the era. The Renaissance influenced the social, economic, spiritual, scientific, and religious aspect of Italy.
Lorenzo, who started to have a special interest in art when he was in Florence by the 1450s, was already starting to produce his own paintings. When Lorenzo started his vocation as an artist, he always had a special interest in portraits. “He is known primarily for his devotional paintings, although he was also much in demand as a portrait painter and was a sensitive draughtsman. ” Lorenzo also started painting in oil, which was a new technique that arose in the Renaissance period. This new technique was usually painted in wood or canvas.
Oil has a deep, intense tone and has hard, enamel-like surfaces. With oil, painters could also demonstrate the glowing and the light and, if needed, they could arrange any possible mistake or part they wanted to change because oil dries very slowly. This technique is not easy to adapt and adjust, but this did not keep Lorenzo from painting with it. “It is not known how oil painting was first developed, but in Western Europe there are indications of its use from at least the 12th century AD, and it was widely used from the Renaissance.
Oil was also very popular because with it, artists could produce the finest clarity of colour. Artists manipulate the oil using stiff brushes made out of hog hair. Lorenzo was recognized for possessing patience when working in his paintings, he did not only use oil, he also adapted other methods of painting that required a lot of skill. A perfect example of a famous artwork of Lorenzo di Credi is Portrait of a Young Women. In the Renaissance, women were not lucky to live in Florence if they wanted to be involved in society. Woman by this era were just a subject of men.
The Portrait of a Young Women exhibits a widow woman. When looking at the painting, one can find a variety of characteristics that lead the viewers to think her husband has died. In the Renaissance era women in Italy dressed very elegantly, wearing long gowns with baggy and loose fitting dresses. Woman used to wear very complex fabrics that covered their entire body. Wool was usually the dominant fabric woman in Italy used to wear in different types of quality and colors. This young woman in the painting is wearing a long, simple black dress with long sleeves and a black veil on the head.
The dress may not seem extravagant because she is dressed as a widow. The dress does not contain any important detail, but stills looks elegant. Besides her clothing, her appearance does not demonstrate a positive one. The look on her face and the body language the painting resembles has a negative connotation. It is said that this woman was Lorenzo di Credi’s sister-in-law. She is also holding a ring in her left hand, which one can assume is her wedding ring. The way she holds and places her hands leads the viewer to think she is thinking about him, she is recalling him.
The look on her face, her eyes, nose, and mouth are all-static, they don’t have any positive expression. When looking at the eyes, one cannot tell where she is looking at. One may think Lorenzo was imitating Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa. It is said that Lorenzo admired and followed Leonardo’s paintings. When looking at Lorenzo’s paining, one can relate with her because of the rigorousness body. Her hands and her face are painted with in an accurate manner. Lorenzo’s skills are perfectly demonstrated in this painting, one can see the shadows all over he painting and the different tones of colors he uses in his work.
The young woman’s body is so realistic that one can even see the perfect nails and the wrinkles in her hands. Behind the widow woman is a beautiful garden and an enjoyable view. The background contains many details in the tress, especially in the leaves. The background incorporates the mountains and the sky with a variety of tones of blues and greens. The tree behind the woman is painted in a circular way looking like a halo, which can resemble an image of the Virgin Mary.
Her face looks calm and docile, which can also be associated with the Virgin Mary. After analyzing Portrait of a Young Woman from the 15th century, one is going to encounter a whole new perspective of life with new techniques and characteristics in a painter from the 20th century even though both artists are Italian. This Italian artist, Umberto Boccioni, was not only a painter; he was also involved with sculptures, theories, and literature. Even though his career came to an end very fast when he died at a young age, he still influenced many artist around the world and had a very productive career.
Boccioni was from the Italian city of Verona, but he spent the majority of his childhood in Forli, Genoa, and Padua. It is not until he moves to Rome that he found his passion for art. Boccioni, inspired by Balla, relates himself a lot with landscapes and nature. “In his first years of activity, closely following his master’s teaching, Boccioni produced oil paintings, sketches, pastels, studies in tempera, and advertising posters. ” After several years he went to Paris where he got inspired by the modernity and the French metropolis, which impacted his life and his work in many ways.
Boccioni was leaving in a new era were the Futurism, art movement, was taking place. The Futurism movement had a great influence in his artwork; it later became a distinguished characteristic in all of his paintings and his career as an artist. He established this movement, so by demonstrating his painting with this new movement, he also inspired other artists to follow the Futurism. Self-Portrait was painted in Rome in the 1905 when Boccioni was twenty-three years old. In Boccioni’s famous painting, one can see Umberto Boccioni well dressed in black also with a black, flat hat on his head.
The painting does not show the body’s parts with clarity and the painting only covers less than half of his body. The way Boccioni paints himself is in a more modern manner using vivid colors in the background and in his face. This portrait is also painted with oil, but this time on a canvas instead of wool. Oil on canvas was the other method artist used in the 1400s, but still was popular in the 20th century. One can see that oil became an important gadget for artists in their paintings and is still currently in use by many artists at the present time.
Boccioni’s painting, Self-Portrait, reflects a change in style from light tonalities in colors to stronger contrasts of light and dark. With the way Boccioni applies the oil in this painting, one can see that the body itself is not well defined because of the longer brushstrokes. His face has a deep, serious look with his eyebrows twisted even though his black, little eyes are almost close. At the background, one can see a wall with different tone of yellow, baby blue, and the leaves of a tree.
One can see that Boccioni avoided the straight line and has used complementary colors to create a vibrant effect and express a positive connotation in his portrait. Now, one can see that even though both artists are Italian, they still have very different styles; they both have different perspectives of life because of different periods the lived in. Although they both have very different techniques, one can still find some characteristics that relate them and connect their paintings. Di Credi shows a more complex, divine, almost perfect human being while Boccioni portraits himself in a more modern manner.
Both paintings are portraits; yet, one can find a lot of distinction between the two of them. While the young woman shows a negative connotation, Boccioni’s self portrait shows a lively man with vivid colors that gets the viewer’s attention immediately. Both artists found a way of establishing a human body in different styles using different methods with the brushes. Another difference in the way these two artists painted is that with di Credi’s painting one can see when he exactly ends in the edges.
One can see that the young woman seems real, while Boccioni’s portrait has more shadows. In Boccioni’s painting is more noticeable the use of brushes than in di Credi’s young woman. Usually, each artist demonstrates his feelings in their paintings; or shows a current event happening in the artist’s era. Or they just produce something that has impact their life or them in any certain way. Zeitgeist , “spirit of the times” can be related with theses two artists and their paintings because both are presenting their passion for art in the epoch in which they are living.
All artworks are a reflection of the time. By analyzing and comparing these two paintings, one can find many interesting aspects of art. Art is more than a painting; art is a history behind an artwork that each artist is trying to evoke in every viewer. Art is using one’s creativeness to transmit one’s thoughts. One can appreciate more the Art when learning the “spirit of the time”; one can comprehend the artist’s emotions by analyzing every single detail in the artwork and the historical background of it.
It is beyond belief how many details one can find when observing in detail each painting; one can find intriguing how every artist was impacted and influenced by the political, economical and historical aspect of their own country. The techniques, skills, and styles di Credi and Boccioni possessed are still influencing other artist nowadays. Their artworks will always be recognizable and distinguishable to people because art will never be forgotten. As centuries go by, one will still see these two artists dominating, impacting, and influencing new artists and viewers.
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