Almost all of the art of the period has a religious theme with scenes from the bible taking prominence.
Brunelleschi was responsible for the emergence of both renaissance architecture and perspective drawing, his work had a profound influence on the sculptors and painters of the day. Donatello, along with his contemporary Ghiberti, was the greatest sculptor of the fifteenth century, he produced a range of astonishing work over a sixty-year period. Masaccio was the most accomplished painter of the early fifteenth century. His paintings incorporate the lessons learned from his personal connections with Brunelleschi and Donatello.
Following in the footsteps of Masaccio, Brunelleschi and Donatello came a succession of artists who produced work of outstanding quality. Painters such as Sandro Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, Filippo Lippi, Piero della Francesca and Domenico Ghirlandaio are examples of artists who continued the artistic development of renaissance ideas.
The printing press and availability of books.
The printing press was invented by Gutenberg who lived in Strasbourg in the 1440's. Before the printing press written works had been confined to manuscripts, Gutenberg's invention led to the production of affordable books that could be widely distributed on a scale that had been unimaginable previously.
Small editions of the classics begin to appear in 1500, championed by the printer Aldus Manutius in Venice. This innovation marked the birth of the modern book, vital to the intellectual development of the renaissance.
In terms of painters, the renaissance artists developed realistic liner perspective, developed by Brunelleschi and executed by artists such as Masaccio, they studied light and shadow in the search for realism in their work.
The Leading Powers In Italy were Florence, a financial center, and Venice, then a major maritime power. The Papacy was in exile in Avignon and it is only when Rome was once again the seat of the rejuvenated Papacy that Italy's leadership began to pass to that city.
The Early Italian Renaissance gave rise to many innovations in medicine and science and literature. The generation of artists after 1500 culminated in the flowering of the arts known as the High Renaissance and included such greats as Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael.
The High Renaissance features on this site, as an article in it's own right.