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Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the Renaissance influenced a handful of some of the greatest philosophers and artists to ever exist. Italy, in particular, had the most remarkable and iconic renaissance out of all the other European nations at that time. Most of the world today still wonders how these revolutionary and talented people came up with their discoveries, creations, and passions. Without this era, art would have never been the same up until today with technology or newfound ways to express creativity.
As a result, the Italian Renaissance was a significant influence because of its origin and the art and literature that impacted the way people thought and perceived the world.
It all began at the midst of the Roman Empire’s fall, which caused their knowledge in science and government to fade into darkness, leaving the way to the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Europeans wanted to come out of the darkness due to the glory of the Ancient Roman’s history, and the wealthy’s desire to spend their money on untouched treasures (“Renaissance for Kids” 2018).
As a result, Italy embarked on a rebirth that would bring western science and art into their European culture, and thus started the Italian Renaissance. All of their rediscovered knowledge led to innovations in art, inventions, science, and principles that would go on to last over five hundred years (“Italian Renaissance Art” 2018). The people that helped to found and initiate the Renaissance from the beginning were the Humanists.
Humanists were philosophers, writers, artists, anatomists, and scientists who studied ancient life for a living and were sponsored by the rich while doing it.
They also encouraged other fellow Europeans to experiment and question certain wisdoms that were given by the Catholic Church. They also had believed that one man was always at the center of his very own universe (“Italian Renaissance” 2018). Society was never the same during the Italian Renaissance, as advancement in technology was a starting point for newer advancements (“The Renaissance – Why It Changed the World” 2015). Expressive creativity was always the point with Humanists, as their way of exemplifying art truly made them special. Art during the Italian Renaissance implemented numerous principles and techniques to characterize their paintings and sculptures. Mainly the most important being perspective drawing, which allowed buildings, figures, and landscapes to appear more precise in a painting.
Naturalism was common, as humans standing in front of nature with lighting and shadowing were a big emphasis (“Italian Renaissance Art” 2018). Italian Renaissance architecture led to churches using circles instead of crosses to further represent God’s perfection. Homes during this time also used columns to hold upper levels and ceilings; domes were used to cover parts of roofs (“Renaissance Art and Literature” 2008). Art influenced a handful of some of the greatest humanists at the time, including the one and only Leonardo da Vinci. His detailed scientific studies have led to discoveries no other man at the time could imagine existing, such as his glider (“Italian Renaissance” 2018). His most beloved and famous paintings were the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, which he sketched on his journal along with other various previews that tackled different fields including anatomy and science.
Another impressive drawing of his was the Vitruvian Man, which was made possible by his deep knowledge of the human body and depicts what was believed by Leo to be the man of perfect proportions. Leonardo’s fascination in engineering, painting, and science was what made him a true Renaissance Man (“Biography: Leonardo da Vinci” 2018). In addition, Michelangelo was another artistic genius of the Renaissance, as his signs of being intellectually creative were apparent from his fascination of art and sculptures. After his first year in Rome, he was commissioned to create a sculpture named the Pieta; it was a piece that depicted Jesus Christ being carried by Mary after he had been crucified.
When he went to Florence, he made the Statue of David, which was his true major leap into becoming another face of the Renaissance; the sculpture was thirteen feet tall and started off as a thin piece of marble. He eventually went back to Rome and painted the Sistine Chapel, which depicted nine visual scenes straight out of the Bible; it was 43 feet wide. What was immensely special about him is that he worked on his crafts by himself without the assistance of others (“Art History and Artists: Michelangelo” 2018). Lastly, another example of a famous artist of the Italian Renaissance is Raphael, who was only interested in wanting perfection out of his paintings. After he had met Pope Julius II, Raphael painted a fresco called The School of Athens; it contains some of the most beloved philosophers including Plato, Socrates, and much more.
Throughout his entire career, Raphael had a large obsession with angels and Madonna’s, with one example being The Sistine Madonna. In terms of architecture, Raphael excelled as one and even became the pope’s in 1514, proving himself as a true man of his field. Before his death, Raphael’s last painting was The Transfiguration, which was his largest painting (“Art History and Artists: Raphael” 2018). Along with art, literature was also a prominent field that encouraged humanists to use their creativity and ideas. Most of Italian Renaissance literature was derived from classical Greek and Roman culture. It thrived in a large manner when the Catholic Church began to lose faith from several Europeans (“Renaissance Art and Literature” 2008). This overall interest led to Gutenberg inventing the printing press; it allowed ink to be transferred and copied through the machine onto a sheet of paper.
According to The Telegraph (2015), it created 20 million copies in 1500 and made ten times more in 1600, with a single press creating 3,600 per day (“The Renaissance – Why It Changed the World” 2015). The Italian Renaissance had a plethora of writers, with one famous example being the one and only William Shakespeare. He created 37 plays; each one had a theme either being tragedy, comedy, a hybrid of the two called tragicomedy, or history. Some of his most famous plays included Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello (“William Shakespeare” 2018). Shakespeare also wrote 154 sonnets, which were a poetic form that limited the writer to 14 lines (“Renaissance Art and Literature” 2008). All of his work further proved that the Renaissance was a time of change and revolution.
Earlier in the Italian Renaissance, there was a writer named Francesco Petrarch, who had an interest in Latin literature after studying law for a couple of years. He wrote a lot of poems, and they all formed an entire sequence that can be made up as scattered rhymes. According to the Academy of American Poets (2018), he wrote a long epic called Africa, which reflected on the events of the Second Punic War. He was also responsible for the creation and overall existence of the Italian sonnet (“Petrarch” 2018). As such, many humanists after Petrarch have defined poetry as a complicated yet captivating way of expressing a poet’s life or their emotions.
One other literature-based humanist of the Italian Renaissance was Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote in The Prince, which described what an excellent leader could be in any government. The book was written from his own experience as a statesman within the government of Florentine up until Medici took over. According to A&E Television Networks (2018), Machiavelli’s portrayal of a perfect real-life prince would be “brutal, calculating and, when necessary, utterly immoral.” This implies, in a basic sense, that being feared is more superior than being cherished. Unfortunately, he would never see his beloved government of Florence to be revitalized to a state he envisioned of, yet his works would later be known to the world (“Machiavelli” 2018). As a result, all of these writers and artists of the Italian Renaissance would develop a humble reputation that would further impact and build upon our futures to come.
There were also a few extraordinary discoveries such as Galileo’s evidence that the sun was at the center of the solar system; he also proved that Earth spun around the sun (“The Renaissance – Why It Changed the World” 2015). This changed a lot of things people knew about science and how our factual knowledge of life could be distinct from what The Bible tells. The ability to pioneer the minds of human beings to its limits made Renaissance men such incredible revolutionists. Most people will probably wonder how in the world we could achieve another era like Italy’s Renaissance in the modern age. With the rising popularization of technology, media, and pop culture, it could be easy to forget how our beloved techniques and branches of thinking originally came into practice. If one seed of the cycle did not exist, the chain would be non-existent, thus causing a ripple effect.
One example of a future invention that was first brought on as an idea by Leonardo da Vinci was the plane. Leo made this type of concept possible by creating a massive glider, which could hold up to only one singular person. Times like the Scientific and Industrial Revolution were eras that could be made up as puzzles that connect to show our future. According to ItalianRenaissance.org (2012), the Renaissance, in general, could even be described as an “Early Modern” era, which would help set up a path towards a more advanced society (‘Why is the Renaissance Important?” 2012). If the influence and spread of the Renaissance never existed, modern society would have been completely different. It is difficult to think of a society different if the Italian Renaissance never happened, mainly because of how it connected with the present. Without it, many important advancements would have never happened; art would also be remembered and forgotten as a long-gone sport.
A world with no artistic influence would mean nothing to most; people would have nothing important, creative, or entertaining to appreciate. In short, a world without the Italian Renaissance could have drastically changed it in a negative way. Unfortunately, the Italian Renaissance era did eventually come to an abrupt end, as there were multiple wars that weakened Italy’s overall strength and durability. The Catholic Church was battling through countless scandals from theorists like Martin Luther and John Calvin, causing chaos throughout the 15th century. The Inquisition of Rome was also initiated right around this time, thus ending the Italian Renaissance (“Italian Renaissance” 2018). However, with many old school and modern icons along with pieces of entertainment, there is never a time to worry about losing interest.
Overall, there were a lot of things that made the Italian Renaissance very special. Artists like Leo and Michelangelo brought and made up lifelike paintings with revolutionary tactics in order to spread the influence of the era. Writers like Shakespeare made philosophical commentary on society and the way people behave through his interesting character development. These men of the Italian Renaissance prove that there is always a way to open our minds and adapt to the way the real-world works. In conclusion, the Italian Renaissance was one of the most major time periods because of its history, art, and literature, which impacted the world and the way people think about it.
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