Italian Painting Renaissance art is the apogee in Italian paintings that stimulates, attracts, coaxes and cajoles the senses beyond your imagination.
It will always be a raison d’ etre of your trip to artistic delights in destination Italy. A coruscating efflorescence of style, technique and vision, Renaissance paintings borrowed heavily from the onrushing spirit of scientific enquiry during the times. The resultant cross fertilization gave birth to such inimitable elements as photographic realism, the illusion of distance and perspective. Yet, Renaissance art is only the doorway to destination Italy’s artistic delights-and missing the rest would be ill-advised.
CLASSICAL: GREEKS, ETRUSCANS & ROMANS (5TH CENTURY B.C. TO A.D. 5TH CENTURY)
If the source of inspiration for Renaissance was classical, visit the Hellenic fount at in Sicily and Southern Italy. The exquisite outpourings were the handiwork of Greek settlers here. Discover the classical conception of art as perfection of proportion, balance, harmony, and form in the Greek murals are in Paestum’s museum. The later Etruscan flavors superimposed on the Greek sensibilities are easily discernible in the best Etruscan art displayed in the Tuscan towns as well as the tomb paintings seen in Tarqunia in Lazio and Chiusi in Tuscany.
BYZANTINE & ROMANESQUE (5TH TO 13TH CENTURIES)
The rise of the eastern Roman capital in Byzantine led to an effusion of religious themes.
Its influence gradually percolated till it determined the stylization of the Italian art. Much of the symbolization – often at variance with reality -can be seen in the illustrations of biblical scenes as well as myths and pagan traditions in Ravenna
-especially at San Vitale and both Sant’Appollinare in Classe and Sant’Appollinare Nuovo, domes in Basilica di San Marco in Venice and Chiostro del Duomo di Monreale in Sicily; Il Duomo, Pisa; Bonano Pisano’s bronze Door of St. Ranieri, the 48 relief panels of the bronze doors in Basilica San Zeno Maggiore, Verona .
It is however the Byzantine mosaics that has provided the most beautiful legacy of the period ,fusing the Moorish subtleties with the western vitality to etch magic in countless monuments and churches across Italy.
INTERNATIONAL GOTHIC (LATE 13TH TO EARLY 15TH CENTURIES)
Gothic paintings acquired more realism and naturalism but the features and gestures were exaggerated for symbolic or emotional emphasis.
They had to .After all, paintings in this era adorned the churches and were religious “advertisements” to pull in the masses into the world of the Lord.
The finely structured, sky piercing Gothic structures could ill afford to have painted stories that nobody understood. Giotto fathered the Gothic art , who introduced the defining characteristics of realism like depth and emotion that later gained more prominence.
You can distinguish the incipient elements of the Renaissance in such Gothic masterpieces as: Pisano Pulpits in Pisa’s Baptistry and Duomo, and in Siena’s Duomo; Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government; Giotto fresco cycles in Assisi’s Basilica di San Francesco, Chapel of the Scrovegni, and Florence’s Basilica di Santa CroceRenaissance & Mannerism (Early 15th to Mid-17th Centuries)
Renaissance art, of course, overwhelmed all. Riding on the back of heightened consciousness of the scientific nature, it was engendered by countless painters, sculptors, and architects who worked out the seeds of the inspiration and broke new grounds in realism and naturalism.
However due to the limitations of space only works by the giants can be mentioned -though every opportunity to visit any piece of Renaissance art is worth while.
Botticelli One of the early innovators her injected a badly needed realism-including linear perspective – into the painting. Experience his courtly, graceful languid style in his masterpieces like The Birth of Venus and Allegory of Spring (Florence’s Uffizi.)
Leonardo da Vinci The many sided genius experimented so frequently with his colours -not to mention- techniques- that little of his remarkable painting survives.
But he definitely pioneered such effects as the fine haze of sfumato that lends a diffused perspective to the character. Its incredible glory of this effect can be experienced first hand in the fresco of The Last Supper (1495-97) and his earlier Annunciation (1481) in Florence’s Uffizi.
Raphael The consummate craftsman produced an impeccable oeuvre that inspired every painter that came later. While his Madonnas and papal portraits in Florence’s Uffizi ,Palazzo Pitti and in Rome’s National Gallery of Ancient Art amaze you with detailing , the ethereal Transfiguration (1520), is in the Vatican Museums is uplifting.
Michelangelo Perhaps the world’s greatest artist, he enjoyed a love hate relation ship with the pope .He worshipped the androgynous form and his depiction of the male body showed every strained sinew , every bone in an emaciated body and every line of expression in a face full of emotion.
Get swept of your feet by Mannerism in his magnum opus – the Sistine Chapel frescoes. The powerful Moses on the tomb of Julius II, as well as his works for Medici family tombs in Florence’s Medici Chapels, incorporating Dawn, Dusk, Day, and Night (1531-33) are breathtaking .And you haven’t even begun to glimpse his sculptural masterpieces!
BAROQUE & ROCOCO (LATE 16TH TO 18TH CENTURIES)
In Baroque, the opulent is extravagantly grandiose and rises to an ecstasy of decorative expressions. It’s an impossible effusion of exaggerated light and dark tones called chiaroscuro.
Dynamic fury, movement, color, and figures move together in an implosion of forms that alas lacks the integrality of a soul. The rococo is even more over the top.
Caravaggio was its supreme exponent and his St. Matthew cycle in Rome’s San Luigi dei Francesi, a series of paintings in Rome’s Galleria Borghese, the Deposition (1604) in the Vatican Museums will remain etched in your mind’s eye , long after you return from destination Italy.
Italy had very few artists of international repute after these.