15th Century – Early Italian Renaissance Art

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Humanism
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Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated, according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it. Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a “human nature” (sometimes contrasted with antihumanism)
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trompe l’oeil
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A manner of representation in which the appearance of natural space and objects is re-created with the express intention of fooling the eye of the viewer, who may be convinced that the subject actually exists as three-dimensional reality
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allegory
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In a work of art, an image (or images) that symbolizes an idea, concept, or principle, often moral or religious
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di sotto in su
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Which means “seen from below” or “from below, upward” in Italian, developed in late Quattrocento Italian Renaissance painting, notably in Andrea Mantegna’s Camera degli Sposi in Mantua and in frescoes by Melozzo da Forlì. Italian terminology for this technique reflects the latter artist’s influence and is called prospettiva melozziana, or “Melozzo’s perspective”. Another notable use is by Antonio da Correggio in the Duomo of Parma, which foreshadows Baroque grandeur
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Cosimo de Medici
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Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici (27 September 1389 – 1 August 1464) was the first of the Medici political dynasty, de facto rulers of Florence during much of the Italian Renaissance; also known as “Cosimo ‘the Elder'” (“il Vecchio”) and “Cosimo Pater Patriae” (Latin: ‘father of the nation’). His power derived from his great wealth as a banker, and he was a great patron of learning, the arts and architecture.
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Corinthian order
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A system of proportions in Classical architecture that includes every aspect of the building’s plan, elevation, and decorative system. Corinthian: The most ornate of the orders, the Corinthian includes a base, a fluted column shaft with a capital elaborately decorated with acanthus leaf carvings. Its entablature consists of an architrave decorated with moldings, a frieze often containing sculptured reliefs, and a cornice with dentils.
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Orsanmichele
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Orsanmichele (or “Kitchen Garden of St. Michael”, from the contraction in Tuscan dialect of the Italian word orto) is a church in the Italian city of Florence. The building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, which is now gone. Located on the Via Calzaiuoli in Florence, the church was originally built as a grain market in 1337 by Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante, and Benci di Cione.
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Judith & Holofernes
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The account of the beheading of Holofernes by Judith is given in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, and is the subject of many paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In the story, Judith, a beautiful widow, is able to enter the tent of Holofernes because of his desire for her. Holofernes was an Assyrian general who was about to destroy Judith’s home, the city of Bethulia. Overcome with drink, he passes out and is decapitated by Judith; his head is taken away in a basket (often depicted as carried by an elderly female servant).
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one-point (linear perspective)
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A system for representing three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface. One-point and multiple-point perspective (also called linear, scientific or mathematical perspective): A method of creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface by delineating a horizon line and multiple orthogonal lines. These recede to meet at one or more points on the horizon (called vanishing points), giving the appearance of spatial depth
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giornata (giornate)
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Adopted from the Italian term meaning “a day’s work,” it is the section of a fresco plastered and pointed in a single day
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aedicula
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A decorative architectural frame, usually found around a niche, door, or window. It is made up of a pediment and entablature supported by columns or pilasters
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contrapposto
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An Italian term meaning “set against,” used to describe the pose that results from setting parts of the body in opposition to each other around a central axis
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Filippo Brunelleschi
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One of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for his development of linear perspective and for engineering the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also include other architectural works, sculpture, mathematics, engineering and even ship design. His principal surviving works are to be found in Florence, Italy
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Composite order
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A system of proportions in Classical architecture that includes every aspect of the building’s plan, elevation, and decorative system. Composite: A combination of the Ionic and the Corinthian orders. The capital combines acanthus leaves with volute scrolls
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David & Goliath
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The original purpose of the story was to show David’s identity as the true king of Israel. Post-Classical Jewish traditions stressed Goliath’s status as the representative of paganism, in contrast to David, the champion of the God of Israel. Christian tradition gave him a distinctively Christian perspective, seeing in David’s battle with Goliath the victory of God’s king over the enemies of God’s helpless people as a prefiguring of Jesus’ victory over sin on the cross and the Church’s victory over Satan. The phrase “David and Goliath” has taken on a more secular meaning, denoting an underdog situation, a contest where a smaller, weaker opponent faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.
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coffer
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A recessed decorative panel that is used to reduce the weight of and to decorate ceilings or vaults
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fresco sesco
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Created by painting on dried plaster, and the color may flake off
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Neoplatonism
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Neoplatonism (or Neo-Platonism) is a modern term used to designate a tradition of philosophy that arose in the 3rd century AD and persisted until shortly after the closing of the Platonic Academy in Athens in AD 529 by Justinian I. Neoplatonists were heavily influenced both by Plato and by the Platonic tradition that thrived during the six centuries which separated the first of the Neoplatonists from Plato
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Fra Angelico
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An Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects as having “a rare and perfect talent”.
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Ionic order
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A system of proportions in Classical architecture that includes every aspect of the building’s plan, elevation, and decorative system. Ionic: The column of the Ionic order has a base, a fluted shaft, and a capital decorated with volutes. The Ionic entablature consists of an architrave of three panels and moldings, a frieze usually containing sculpted relief ornament, and a cornice with dentils.
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Annunciation
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The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-39 Annuntiatio nativitatis Christi), also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus, meaning “Saviour”. Many Christians observe this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March
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condottieri
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Condottieri (singular condottiero and condottiere) were the leaders (or warlords) of the professional, military free companies (or mercenaries) contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance. In Renaissance Italian, condottiero meant “contractor”, and was synonymous with the modern English title Mercenary Captain. In contemporary Italian, “condottiero” acquired the broader meaning of “military leader”, not restricted to mercenaries. In Italian historiography, Renaissance mercenary captains are usually called capitani di ventura (literally “venture captains”)
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putti (putto)
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A plump, naked little boy, often winged. In Classical art, called a cupid; in Christian art, a cherub
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loggia
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Italian term for a covered open-air gallery. Often used as a corridor between buildings or around a courtyard, usually have arcades or colonnades
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Renaissance
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The Renaissance is a period from the 14th to the 17th century, considered the bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern history. It started as a cultural movement in Italy in the Late Medieval period and later spread to the rest of Europe. Some good early examples were the perspective within painting and the recycled knowledge of how to make concrete. As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch; the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting; and, gradual but widespread educational reform. In politics, the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term “Renaissance man”. There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century
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Giovanni di Bicci de Medici
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Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c. 1360 – February 20/28, 1429) was an Italian banker, a member of Medici family of Florence, and the founder of the Medici Bank. Giovanni’s founding of the family bank truly began the family’s rise to power in Florence. He was the father of Cosimo de’ Medici (Pater Patriae), great-grandfather of Lorenzo de Medici (the Magnificent) and great-great-great-grandfather of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
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Doric order
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A system of proportions in Classical architecture that includes every aspect of the building’s plan, elevation, and decorative system. Doric: The column shaft of the Doric order can be fluted or smooth-surfaced and has no base. The Doric capital consists of an undecorated echinus and abacus. The Doric entablature has a plain architrave, a frieze with metopes and triglyphs, and a simple cornice.
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Venus
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The Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. She was central to many religious festivals, and was venerated in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.
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oculus
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In architecture, a circular opening. Usually found either as windows or at the apex of a dome. When at the top of a dome, it is either open to the sky or covered by a decorative exterior lantern
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register
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A device used in systems of spatial definition. In painting, a register indicates the use of differing groundlines to differentiate layers of space within an image. In sculpture, the placement of self-contained bands of reliefs in a vertical arrangement
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orthogonal
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Any line running back into the represented space of a picture perpendicular to the imagined picture plane. In linear perspective, all orthogonals converge at a single vanishing point in the picture and are the basis for a grid that maps out the internal space of the image. An orthogonal plan is any plan for a building or city that is based exclusively on right angles, such as the grid plan of many major cities
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transversals
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A line that crosses at least two other lines
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barrel vault
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An arched masonry structure that spans an interior space. Barrel or tunnel vault: an elongated or continuous semicircular vault, shaped like a half-cylinder
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buon fresco
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A painting technique in which water-based pigments are applied to a surface of wet plaster. The color is absorbed by the plaster, becoming a permanent part of the wall

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