The High Renaissance began at the turn of the century with Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper in 1495-8, Michelangelo Buonarroti's Pietà in 1500, and Albrecht Dürer's Apocalypse in 1498. In Italy, it was the most illustrious period in the history of art as evidenced by great patronage from the Roman Church and wealthy, influential families like the Medici in Florence. Painters, sculptors and architects were commissioned for the glory of the new St. Peters and the Vatican. Florence and Venice flourished as centers of artistic activity. In the north, it was a period of both accomplishment and difficulty for the artist. In the climate of religious dissention and impending Reformation, there were infrequent religious commissions, and artists turned to new secular subject matter appreciated by a new educated market of patrons. Artists like Albrecht Dürer became entrepreneurs.
In the sixteenth century, artists emerged from anonymity in the Middle Ages to the celebration of their individual accomplishments in this age of humanism. Some artists traveled seeking patronage beyond their birthplace, for example, El Greco from Greece to Spain, Hans Holbein the Younger from Germany to England, and Caterina van Hemessen from the Netherlands to Spain.
In this chapter you will learn about:
As you read about artistic achievements in this era, be aware of the
setting for these achievements in an era of humanism, scientific inquiry,
global exploration and the spread of ideas through the invention of printing.