The Renaissance Period (1300s-1400s)

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15 April 2016.


Introduction. 1

The Renaissance Spirit. 2

The Early Rebirth in Florence. 3

The Impacts of the Renaissance Period (the 1300s-1400s) on Italy’s Arts and Architecture. 4

Conclusion. 5

Works Cited. 6


In the late 1300s, a novel movement in literature, art, science, and architecture had started in Italy. The movement was commonly referred to as the Renaissance, which was a period of change and creativity in Europe. It was popular in Italy in the 1300s, before it spread across Europe in the 1500s and 1600 (Jordan 32). Apart from spreading across Europe, the movement’s impact has been witnessed up to the current era. The Renaissance spirit affected not just the arts and architecture but also every life aspect of life. It was a renaissance of intellectual and cultural pursuits of the last decades of the Middle Ages. Therefore, this artistic movement’s name has been labeled to the entire historical period of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries (Najemy 150).


Furthermore, the Italian Renaissance reformed Western art in line with the classical principles of Greek art, particularly painting and sculpture, which offered much of the foundation for the Grand Tour and remained unopposed until Cubism and Pablo Picasso. During the 14th century, Italian thinkers and artists began searching for new forms of artistic standards as a reaction to the courtly global Gothic style. In doing so, they were encouraged by the forms and ideas of ancient Rome and Greece. As such, the search corresponded to their ambition of creating a universal kind of art which expressed a more confident and new disposition of the period.

The Renaissance Spirit

The term “renaissance” means revival or rebirth. During the 14th century, numerous scholars from Italy believed that various forms of art and architecture had declined in quality for nearly 1,000 years. They esteemed the writing and art of the Classical Era (400 B.C.- 400A.D.), the period of the Roman and Greek empires (McNeese 22). Accordingly, to resuscitate the grandeur and glory of the antique past, these intellectuals keenly studied classical sculpture, architecture, and literature. However, the Renaissance was a greater undertaking that involved much more than just classical art rebirth. In this case, it was all about the rebuff of the ending Middle Ages.

During the medieval era, arts were mainly used to portray the hereafter, spiritual life, and religion. Little attention was directed towards life on earth apart from preparation for the next world. However, in the early 15th century, Italians started directing their attention towards the world around them (Najemy 181). Individuals began to think more keenly about non-religious or secular matters. Moreover, they started placing faith in their various qualities, thus giving it personal importance. This novel spirit was known as humanism. Furthermore, medieval virtues such as obedience to power, unquestioning faith, and discipline were no longer accepted blindly. As a result, individuals started asking questions, and they desired to discover their personal answers. Artists were amongst the first group of people to be influenced by the new spirit of humanism (McNeese 33). In their various undertakings, they started to concentrate on human life while on earth.

According to Najemy (203), humanism was an artistic and intellectual movement whereby individuals started to concentrate on the present life, which contradicted with the Middle Ages’ concentration on the afterlife. Humanism always stressed the significance of education, with the analysis of ancient Roman and Greek texts becoming the standard of learning. Similarly, it stressed the significance of the individual in society. Therefore, it was the motivating factor behind the Renaissance, and it is revealed in the era’s scientific, literary, and artistic achievements (Winks 111). In addition, Renaissance architects and artists produced various works that were among the finest in the world. Although numerous religious arts were still popular, new styles and models were also created by Renaissance artists. Realism concepts and humanist ideas were highly depicted in various art forms (Jordan 38). For instance, artists like Leonardo Da Vinci decided to study anatomy while others applied live models to understand the human form in a better way. Equally, artists learned perspective rules enabling them to create their works in three-dimensional shapes. Architects revived numerous ancient Roman and Greek styles such as the use of arches, columns, and domes.

The Early Rebirth in Florence

The humanism spirit was first expressed by a famous painter known as Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) a decade before the renaissance began. The religious pictures of Giotto were painted with inordinate compassion for the quality of humans in his subjects (Winks 112). Consecrated figures were displayed in countryside sceneries, dressed commonplace clothing. Moreover, lovely paintings of Giotto appear to have been fashioned specifically for the ordinary people of his era. Through Christian art, viewers were reminded, for the first time, that religion saints were just peasants like them. After Giotto’s death, a dreadful plague, as well as a small but vicious war, swept across Italy. As a result, the progression of various sectors in Italy slowed including progress in art. Nearly 50 years elapsed before the ideas of Giotto became popular. Nevertheless, it was evident that Giotto had been the Renaissance painting’s forerunner (Jordan 42).

The Impacts of the Renaissance Period (the 1300s-1400s) on Italy’s Arts and Architecture

The Renaissance period brought about a lot of changes to Italian artists and their works regarding architecture and arts. For instance, the period ushered the humanism notion which emphasized on promoting individual talent which inspired many Italian artists to express their personal attitudes, emotions, and values. As a result of the Renaissance era (the 1300s-1400s), Italian artists stopped creating their subjects’ symbolic representation and started making their subjects as captivating and lifelike as possible (McNeese 23). Although most of the works were still dedicated to religious subjects, they had more worldly or secular overtones. Interests in prehistoric Rome and Greece made Italian artists to embrace biblical themes and classical mythology in their art. Likewise, to create their works in a captivating and lifelike manner, Italian artists tried to use new techniques. For instance, they had to learn how to give their art great depth by incorporating a sense of perspective. Most of them studied anatomy to portray figures of people more naturally and accurately (Winks 115). Equally, Italian artists learned to portray the subtleties of expression and gesture to express human emotions. Most of their art consisted of paintings or frescoes done on adank plaster.


The Renaissance of artwork in Italy made the public appreciate artists’ works. Consequently, great artists were hailed as geniuses. Townspeople and nobles used the artwork to decorate churches and homes. As a result, artists were lavishly rewarded by being given a celebrated place in their society (Najemy 214). Furthermore, throughout the Middle Ages, the cathedral architects had always pointed soaring spires and arches heavenward for the sake of God’s glory. However, during the Renaissance era, Italian architects embraced the classical style. They replaced columns and domes from classical Roman and Greek structural design for the medieval spires and arches (Jordan 35). Additionally, they pursued both beauty and comfort in their constructions, decorating them with glass windows, superbly made furniture, statues, paintings, and tapestries. Unlike the Middle Ages’ anonymous architecture, Renaissance architects were highly respected by the Italian public for their fine buildings. The most prominent architect of the Italian Renaissance was Filippo Brunelleschi. He was renowned for the dome that he designed and finished in 1436 for the Florence Cathedral (McNeese 89). Previously, no one had succeeded to construct an enormous and strong dome that could cover the entire cathedral without crumbling because of the weight. As such, Brunelleschi’s Roman-motivated design was perceived to be the utmost engineering achievement of the period.


In conclusion, the Italian Renaissance shaped a golden era with numerous achievements in science, art, architecture, and literature. But most significantly, it created a new notion of how individuals thought of each other, and the world they were living. Italy was the center of the Renaissance during the 1300s, but it eventually spread across Europe. Additionally, it shaped a host of prominent Italian sculptors and artists. Among the greatest of these included Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Cimabue, Giotto di Bondone, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo Della Quercia, Gentile da Fabriano, and Paolo Uccello. Moreover, humanism brought a change in both arts and architecture by introducing the concept of the individual figure instead of symbolic or stereotyped figures. During the Renaissance, Italian artists and architects started focusing on greater realism, besides paying attention to detail when developing their works. In essence, Italy witnessed increased prosperity in areas such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, and the construction of new and strong buildings.

Works Cited

Jordan, William C. The Middle Ages. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996. Print.

McNeese, Tim. The Renaissance: A.D. 1300-1500. Milliken Publishing Company, 1999. Print.

Najemy, John M. Italy in the Age of the Renaissance: 1300-1550. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

Winks, Robin W. History of Civilization: 1300-1815. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print.

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