The Renaissance is one of the most important periods in the history of art. From the end of the 1300s to the first half of the sixteenth century, the seigniories that swarmed with artists and men of culture were affirmed.
From this moment on, art will be interpreted as a manifestation of the human intellect and the artisans become artists. The center of attraction will be the city of Florence where in the first decades of the 15th century the artistic language will be inspired by Greek and Roman art, with the will to refer to the past as a rebirth of the ideals of the ancient world. Local rulers will replace powerful and wealthy families that will favor patronage aimed at supporting artistic activities of all kinds, painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry and literature.
This first historical phase is also called Humanism because, in this case, man is aware of his own abilities and his mind and this is placed at the center of all respect instead of the man of the Middle Ages who relied on providence. In art, sculptors delve into anatomy and nature. The body takes on movement and torsion. Art is conceived as an imitation of reality.
Artists of the Renaissance
One of the most important artists of this period is Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) who lived at the Court of the Medici who at that time ruled the city of Florence. Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) is a prominent artist at the court of the Gonzaga in Mantua where lived Isabella d’Este who married Francesco Gonzaga in 1490 and who fostered the arts. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-15199), Tiziano (1480-15769) and Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) worked for her.
Even in Ferrara, at the court of the Este’s from the middle of 1440, especially in painting, will flourish a peculiar style borrowed from Piero della Francesca (1420-14929) and the Flemish painters that will be characterized by a strong expressiveness. The most famous work is the Studiolo di Belfiore (1447-1463) which represents the birth of the Ferrara school.
A second school started in the 16th century with Dosso Dossi, who was an active artist at the Court of the Dd’Este dynasty together with Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533) who published the Orlando Furioso in Ferrara in 1516. Also, Lucrezia Borgia at the beginning of the XVI century in Ferrara supported Ludovico Ariosto. In the XVI sec. the Renaissance is definitively affirmed.
The Renaissance painters
One of the most important performers of this period was Michelangelo (1475-1564) who will express his skills in sculpture, painting and architecture. From 1508 to 1512, commissioned by Julius II, he painted the Vault of the Sistine Chapel. He will design the Dome of San Pietro and will restructure the Capitoline Hill.
Another important protagonist of the Renaissance art is Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520) who had the ability to assimilate the teachings of all the other masters, achieving the ideal of harmony and perfection typical of the Renaissance. Settled in Rome, he is one of the most important artists of the court of Pope Giulio II. Raphael realized the papal apartment known as The Raphael Rooms.
From the Renaissance to Mannerism
In the sixteenth century a new generation of artists will give life to the current of Mannerism (a style that we find in the Palace of the Villa d’Este). Giorgio Vasari, convinced that we can no longer reach the perfection of previous artists, invites new artists to learn and imitate the art of the masters of the past with new and original results.
The most important artists in architecture are Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), in sculpture Benvenuto Cellini who will also work at the court of Ippolito II d’Este, in painting Rosso Fiorentino (1495-1540) and Veronese (1528-1588). In the sculpture, there will be the search for dynamism with the so-called serpentine poses that will be a distinctive feature of the Baroque and that we find also in some artifacts of the Villa d’Este (spiral columns at the Fountain of Pluto and Proserpina and Siryiform Caryatids at the Fountain of Organ).
The Counter-Reformation in art
In the second half of 1500 the Catholic Church started the Counter-Reformation following the Council of Trent (1545-1563) aimed at countering the spread of Luther’s doctrine (1483-1546) initiator of the Protestant reform. In the artistic field, the Church believes that art should have an educational role, therefore it favors the production of religious art with the aim of reaffirming also spiritual hegemony.
Throughout the seventeenth century the most important artistic production took place in Rome with the affirmation of the Baroque.
From this moment, art will become the instrument of religious propaganda. The term baroque derives from the Spanish which indicates an irregularly shaped pearl. The Baroque will resume the Mannerism reviving the taste for the surprise, the eccentric, the scenographic effect. Amazement and wonder are the objectives of art. Features that we find already in the garden.