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High Renaissance

High Renaissance Collage

Started: 1490s

Ended: 1527

"Perspective is the rein and rudder of painting."

Leonardo da Vinci

Summary of High Renaissance

The High Renaissance, subsequently coined to denote the artistic pinnacle of the Renaissance, refers to a thirty-year period exemplified by the groundbreaking, iconic works of art being made in Italy during what was considered a thriving societal prime. A rejuvenation of classical art married with a deep investigation into the humanities spurred artists of unparalleled mastery whose creations were informed by a keen knowledge of science, anatomy, and architecture, and remain today, some of the most awe-inspiring works of excellence in the historical art canon.

Key Ideas

Although many artists vied for status and commissions during the High Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and architect Donato Bramante are undoubtedly the period's most notable legends who exemplify the term "Renaissance" man in their proficiency and mastery of multiple subjects and interests.
During this period, a cultural movement toward humanism arose, compelling artists to return to Classical Roman and Greek philosophies concerning universal man and his place in the world. This was a departure from the medieval era's idealized religious iconography and resulted in fresh depictions of divine subjects infused with a more resonant and human emotionality and expression.
High Renaissance artists utilized and perfected a bevy of techniques borrowed from Early Renaissance artists. This included the use of linear perspective to create extreme depth, highly accurate and scientifically correct depictions of human anatomy, the foreshortening of figures and subjects within elevated paintings and sculptures to provide an authentic viewing experience from below, and trompe l'oeil effects to seamlessly incorporate architectural elements into a work of art.
A rise of new styles arose that were groundbreaking for the time. Leonardo created sfumato, a glazing effect that revolutionized the blending of tone and color, and quadratura, or ceiling paintings, were born, meant to rapturously draw the gaze of viewers up into a heavenly visage.
The period is noted for infusing ideals of beauty back into art. Whether depicting religious figures or everyday citizens, in architecture and in art, the High Renaissance artists' key concerns were to present pieces of visual, symmetrical, and compositional perfection.
High Renaissance Photo

Celebrating, as he said, "the divine quality of the ancients' minds," Raphael portrayed a gathering of all the great classical thinkers in his Academy of Athens. At the same time his masterpiece epitomized High Renaissance ideals.

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