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The Renaissance began at the end of the 14th century in Italy and had extended across the whole of Europe by the second half of the 16th century. The rediscovery of the splendour of ancient Greece and Rome marked the beginning of the rebirth of the arts following the break-down of the dogmatic certitude of the Middle Ages. A number of artists began to innovate in the domains of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Depicting the ideal and the actual, the sacred and the profane, the period provided a frame of reference which influenced European art over the next four centuries.
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Giorgione, Mantegna, Raphael, Dürer and Bruegel are among the artists who made considerable contributions to the art of the Renaissance.
second half of the sixteenth century was the stonemason and architectural theoretician Andrea di Pietro, called Andrea Palladio (1508 to 1580). He had been working as an architect since 1540, first in Vicenza, then in Venice. His main work in Venice, the desire for palaces, had already been covered by the native architects, so that Palladio worked there as a church builder and realised his magnificent ideas for construction in the two churches San Giorgio Maggiore on the island opposite and Il
commissioned by Charles V to Pedro Machuco (until 1550). With its splendid Tuscan-Doric columns on the lower floor and the Ionic on the upper, and the round columned courtyard, it is reminiscent of Raphael’s Villa Madama. The Italian High Renaissance then took over the rule under Philip II. The most excellent monument of his extraordinary devoutness and his love of art is the monastery situated northwest of Madrid in the small town of Escorial and dedicated to St Lawrence, which at the same time
successor. This architecture, in its renunciation of outward ornamentation, reflects the severe dignity of the Spanish knighthood and has nothing of the grace and charm of Roman High Renaissance. But behind the bare, five-storey walls, which surround a quadrangle marked by large angle towers, the courtyards and rooms open up and create an unforgettable impression. Through the entrance gate, a strictly gabled porch resting on columns, one reaches the Patio de los Reyes, bordered by columns,
Henry VIII, and was established as court painter, a position he held until his death. AC Renaissance 4C.qxp 4/9/2007 3:48 PM Page 167 AC Renaissance 4C.qxp 168 4/6/2007 6:22 PM Page 168 AC Renaissance 4C.qxp 4/6/2007 6:22 PM Page 169 Pieter Bruegel the Elder (born in Breda in 1525 – died in Brussels in 1569) Pieter Bruegel was the first important member of a family of artists who were active for four generations. A drawer before becoming a painter later, he painted religious
also had close contact with the Florentine circle around Verrocchio. However he, only initially and very hesitantly, adopted the view of naturalism prevailing there, and preferred to remain true to his softer, successful style. This was because his contemporaries always demanded sensitive devotional pictures, which nobody except he knew how to paint with such a beautiful lustre of colours. In his paintings St Sebastian and Madonna and Child enthroned with St John the Baptist this becomes quite