Expository Essay on Renaissance Art

2022-01-18 08:11:38
5 pages
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Harvey Mudd College
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Introduction

Renaissance art was a blend of secularism and religion, depicting the short and long-term effects of the Plague. Immediately after the plague, people sought to reevaluate their relationships with God, believing that the plague was a punishment from God for the evil deeds people had committed across the world. However, in the long run, people embraced secularism to a great extent because they could no longer trust the church which had become corrupt under the leadership of hastily-trained clergies that offered to take up the places of the priests and monks that had been consumed by the Plague. With little respect for the church, a considerable percentage of the population resorted to the idea that the world and many phenomena could be explained better by science than religion. This marked the beginning of the secularism seen in most of the Renaissance works of art. Secularism was a primary theme in Renaissance art and was reflected in such legendary pieces as the Primavera by Sandro Botticelli (See figure 2 below). In the Primavera, there are two themes: secularism and religion. The left side of the painting shows life in a serene place that is a mimic of the Garden of Eden with angels. The right-hand side of the portrait shows people struggling to run away from the grip of death.

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The plague had serious religious consequences, with people embracing the idea that the human experience was ultimately superior to the teachings of the Catholic Church and others remaining conservative. This greatly impacted renaissance art because artists resorted to making artworks that sought to explain the relationship between God and humanity.

The procession of Saint Gregory Poetry and philosophy are among the pillars of renaissance art because philosophers introduced the essence of reason over fate, encouraging people to unchain themselves from the mental confines of the high structural Italian culture to more liberal and creative thinking that enabled them to use art to pass messages to the masses. After the end of The Plague, people lost trust in the existing systems of government and religion. They lost trust in the belief that the government would protect them because corruption was high. Also, they lost trust and respect for the church following rising cases of corruption and the proven inevitability of death. With that, they started questioning the status quo for the first time. People revolted against the authorities, such as the case of poor laborers and weavers demonstrating and eventually running the city of Florence in 1378. The continued questioning of the authorities by the urban elite led to the birth of renaissance politics of change and reformation. Such politics motivated the development of renaissance poetry, a strong channel of communication through which such renowned Renaissance artists as scholar and poet Petrarch.

After the Black Death attack across Western Europe, realism became an important phenomenon because people had seen that life would one day on earth and that death would eventually catch up with everybody. Artists emphasized the difference between perception and reality, and the extent to which surface appearances could be an extreme opposite of that which lies beneath. During and at the end of the plague, the fear of death had grown among the people, and while dying looked like a possibility, the chances of seeing new heaven as promised by Christianity were remote. With this, Renaissance art started featuring death, which was represented by such creations as an angel or a rotting skeleton hovering above the dying person’s death or over the city. Renaissance art showed people in the same picture with the angels, a clear indication that renaissance artists had indeed changed their mindset from the conservative to liberal and innovative.

One of the most critical aspects of art is a culture's architecture. During the plague, and upon the realization that death was not acting discriminately regarding class, the elite class tried to give themselves decent send-offs by acquiring a beautiful tomb display. Towards and at the end of the plague, the noble people could contribute towards the construction of churches in whose yards their tombs would be displayed. Such tombstones gained popularity and were assigned high significance in renaissance architecture becoming a core symbol of high status in society. Also, talking of the notable changes in renaissance architecture, the landlords changed focus from building houses that could protect the occupants against war and embarked on a style that could not allow them to leave the premises freely. Such architectural changes became a part of renaissance architecture in Western Europe.

In addition to the numerous paintings showing death, tired and tortured souls, dying people, fire, and brimstone, the Plague marked the beginning of renaissance literature. Such writers as Boccaccio wrote books and poems, most of which have played a primary role in determining the consequences of the plague, including his most famous book, The Decameron (1910). Such books and poems have been among the few available descriptions of the painful period. What is more, the poems of the Renaissance period were informed by the outcome of the long period of suffering.

Ultimately, the Plague is the backbone of the renaissance era because it gave rise to a significant component of the period's art radical death iconography. Death was presented in quite some ways, including its appearance in a strange imagination from among human beings. Radical death iconography was motivated by the trauma that the plague caused in western Europe and the firm passion for life that people developed upon the realization that everyone was mortal, including the members of the clergy and the members of the nobility. In his renaissance artwork, Danse Macabre, Hans Holbein shows the representations of deaths, mainly skeletons, dragging people from all social cadres to death, a lesson they had learned from the plague. Some other renaissance artworks consistently show the triumph of death over human beings, but Belle Rosine by Antoine Wierts (1847) tried to portray a different picture of humans defying the spirit of death.

It is important to point out that symbolism is a central aspect of Renaissance art because at the core of Renaissance art is creativity. The plague inspired the use of quite some symbols in Renaissance art. For instance, after the plague, and people associating death with evil, some paintings portrayed death in different ways, among them a snake coiled on a crown. Also, symbolism enables some artworks to explain the lessons of the Black Death, for instance, reason and human experience made more sense than the corrupted religion. For this reason, renaissance artists resorted to being innovative and embracing secular themes, which communicated real and verifiable issues in society.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident from the preceding discussion, the plague is the backbone and genesis of Renaissance art. Foremost, the plague inspired the development of the rapid death iconography out of the fear of death and passion for life among the people of Western Eu...

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