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Rogier van der Weyden was one of the most important artists to emerge from the early Northern Renaissance. His typically northern style with its fine details and clean lines earned him many important commissions.
Brussels was home to the influential Court of Burgundy and Rogier became a prominent citizen. He held the post of the official painter to the city in addition to his role as a painter to the court of Burgundy.
His portrayal of human suffering is a hallmark of van der Weyden’s style. Paintings such as the Beaune Altarpiece depicting the last judgement is a fine example of his technique. The centre of the altarpiece is filled superbly by St Michael who holds the scales of judgement deciding who will be saved and who will be damned.
Other works by the artist include The Saint Columba Triptych, The Entombment and The Descent from the Cross. Rogier van der Weyden’s influence was instrumental for the development of Northern Renaissance Art.
Andrea Mantegna was a versatile artist who used his extensive knowledge of perspective to great effect in his work.
His worms-eye view of St James Led to his Execution is one example of his outstanding application of what was a relatively new science at the time. Andrea’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Christo Scorto) is a triumph foreshortening in what is one of the artist’s most popular paintings.
Mantegna’s magnificent ceiling fresco in the Camera degli Sposi, Mantua, where he created a painted view of the sky is a triumph. His paintings of courtiers and members of the powerful Gonzaga family, also decorate the walls of the same chamber. They are exceptional.
In addition to his biblical works, Andrea also created scenes from classical mythology. His Parnassus was created to decorate the rooms of Isabella d’ Este, it includes a multitude of figures, dancing muses, gods, and horses.
Mantegna married Nicolosia the daughter of Jacobo Bellini and so became the brother in law of the painters Giovanni and Gentile Bellini. His influence on this artistic dynasty was profound. Giovanni’s Agony in the Garden owes much to Andrea’s painting of the same name.
Raffaelo (Raphael) son of the painter Giovanni Santi and his wife Magia Ciarla was born on the 28th March or the 6th April 1483.
His father Giovanni Santi was a competent painter and was highly regarded in Urbino, a province that housed one of the most glittering courts in Italy.
It seems that his life was destined to progress smoothly from childhood through to fame, considerable wealth, and adulation from his contemporaries and patrons. Not for Raphael the image of an artist working in squalor, begging for handouts for food and materials, he was blessed from the beginning!
Raphael died 500 years ago this month (6th of April 1520) at the age of 37 and was buried the next day in the Pantheon.
He was a famous, wealthy and popular renaissance personality and his funeral was very well attended attracting large crowds. His compositions were referred to extensively when training successive generations of artists.
On a personal note: - At the moment the world is in the grip of this terrible pandemic known as Covid 19. I would urge everyone to stay safe and look after family friends and neighbours. Take care!
April 6th 2020 will mark 500 years since the death of the Renaissance giant Raphael. To commemorate the occasion the Vatican has displayed the newly restored tapestries designed by Raphael in their intended location in the Sistine Chapel.
The Raphael Tapestries and the cartoons that form the initial designs from which they were made are among the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. Commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 their intended home was the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. To be hung on special occasions they depict events from the life of St Peter and the life of St Paul, popular subjects in the Renaissance era. Raphael and his workshop completed the cartoons in Rome but the tapestries were woven in Bruges, a centre of excellence for tapestry production throughout Europe.
The ten tapestries were woven between 1516 and 1521 and seven of the completed works were hung in the Sistine Chapel for the first time on St Stephen's Day 26th December 1519. This is possibly the only time that Raphael saw any of the finished tapestries in their intended location, he died on April 6th 1520 at the age of 37.
The Renaissance in Venice is epitomised by three painters belonging to the same family. Jacopo, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini span the period from the beginning of the Venetian period to the pinnacle of the High Renaissance in Venice.
Jacopo was a well-regarded artist who ran a busy workshop in the city, his eldest son Gentile was a prolific painter who executed many famous works for the rich and the powerful of Venice. Gentile greatly enhanced the reputation of the Bellini workshop but it was his brother Giovanni who had the greatest influence on the generation of artists that came after him.
Giovanni’s portrait of the Doge Leonardo Loredan is one of the finest masterpieces of the era and is contemporary to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Among Giovanni’s apprentices, the painters Giorgione and Titian became the leading artists in Venice but there is little doubt that the Bellini artistic dynasty laid the foundations for the ongoing artistic achievements of the city.
The Florentine artist Filippino Lippi’s career spanned the later years of the Renaissance and the very beginnings of the High Renaissance.
The liaison between his father, the artist Fra Filippo Lippi and a nun resulted in Filippino’s illegitimate birth in 1457/8, this did not prevent the Filippino from becoming a much-sought-after painter he gained many important commissions from rich and noble patrons. His work in the Brancacci Chapel and the church of the Santa Maria Novella both in Florence are world-famous.
Filippino completed his Adoration of the Magi for the monastery of San Donato a Scopeto a work that was left unfinished by Leonardo da Vinci when he departed Florence for Milan. Filippino Lippi is rightly recognised as a master of Renaissance art.
Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance polymath whose work spanned many disciplines including numerous drawings and measurements of the proportions of the human form. His thirst for knowledge is legendary this led to his famous image based on the writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius the Vitruvian Man.
Leonardo’s drawing depicts a man with arms and legs in multiple positions placed inside a circle and a square.
Many artists of the Renaissance studied the proportions of the human body using this knowledge in their work although none had dedicated so much thought and detailed attention as Leonardo.
This worldwide icon is used in various forms in the modern world and is closely associated with the medical profession. It has been used as a symbol for rock bands, NASA, and the Euro.
The warring factions of Renaissance city-states produced an ever-increasing demand for the new and more sophisticated weapons that were required to gain an advantage over the enemy, to this end Ludovico il Moro Sforza, Duke of Milan employed the most free-thinking engineer of the age Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo produced designs for military machines such as a giant crossbow, a repeating cannon, and numerous other inventions, he had studied the flight of birds and considered the huge effect that a flying machine may have on the outcome of conflicts on the battlefield.
Many of Leonardo’s designs are updated versions of the existing technologies that had been used for centuries but as always with Leonardo, his more radical ideas were years ahead of their time. It is incredible that this Renaissance polymath had imagined weaponry that only became a reality centuries later with the onset of the first and second world wars.
Antonio Allegri more commonly known as Correggio was born in 1489 in the northern Italian town that he is named after. It is not known how much influence (if any) other major artists from Rome or Venice had on his work. He was influenced by Mantegna's work in Mantua but, according to the great art historian Vasari, he never visited Rome.
Details of his life are sparse but his major works were executed in Parma a world away from his southern contemporaries. We know that he married a lady from his hometown, Girolama Francesca di Braghetis, and had at least one son, Pomponio Allegri, who was also a painter.
His famous Assumption of the Virgin fresco for the Cathedral in Parma and his painting the Holy Night are regarded as being among the artist's finest works.
The architect Filippo Brunelleschi along with the painter Masaccio and the sculptor Donatello make up a trio of forward-thinking individuals at the heart of Renaissance Florence.
Brunelleschi’s experiments on linear perspective were a vital step forward for the painters, architects, and sculptors who embraced his ideas. Linear perspective made possible the illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface.
Perhaps Brunelleschi’s most famous work is his revolutionary design for the dome of Florence Cathedral which today stands as a monumental testament to his work.