Early Renaissance Slideshow

A quick slideshow put together to give those interested in learning a bit more about art history an opportunity to do so. This slideshow walks through the early renaissance period, based off of Anatoly Vanetik’s post on both  his WordPress and his website TonyVanetik.net.

Anatoly’s Art History: Early Renaissance



To better explore a culture, to better examine the past and to better understand the history and people that came before us, we can study art. In some form, art has existed essentially since the dawn of time. Like people and cultures, through, art has changed. Looking, even casually, at art from the past, ignoring the subtleties and nuances that each artist inserts into their own work still sheds light on the changes that humankind has undergone throughout time. Here on TonyVanetik.wordpress.com and concurrently on TonyVanetik.net, I will continue to walk through various periods of time and the corresponding artists, themes and motifs found in each.


Happy reading.


Early Renaissance Art


Welcome to one of the single most influential periods of art that we’ve seen as a civilization to date. Literally meaning “rebirth,” the Renaissance period was home to artists whose names have lived on until today in the mouths of art lovers, text books and on the walls of museums; names like Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci–guys you’ve probably heard of a few times.


The rebirth characterized by the Renaissance wasn’t limited to art–not even close. The very lives and ways of living that those in the Renaissance period experienced featured a marked shift towards intellectualism and cultural reinvention. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll stick to the art and culture that changed in the early Renaissance period; covering the whole period is more worthy of a term paper or research report than a blog post.


Most of the Renaissance period (or, at least what art scholars and historians like to consider the Renaissance period) took place between 1400 and 1600, give or take a few years and depending on how stringent you’d like to be.


The period got its start initially pre-1400 in Italy, though the movement didn’t fully come into itself until about 1400, when the Netherlands and Italy developed seemingly concurrent styles independently of one another.


Causes of Italy’s rebirth into the classical world are numerous, including the rediscovery and thirst for new knowledge from older classical written works. Now with a stable government at their back and prosperity ahead, the people of Italy began to discover how meaningful delving into cultural philosophy and classical knowledge could be.


Like so many things in life, competition was one of the driving forces credited with bringing the Renaissance into existence in Italy–more specifically, a competition to craft a set of bronze doors for a cathedral in Florence. The competitors included Lorenzo Ghiberti, the winner, and Donatello, one of art history’s most revered Renaissance artists.


The artwork in the early Renaissance period was, as you may expect, heavily influenced by both Greek and Roman history as well as religion. The works were often more meticulously created, going so far as to utilize mathematical and scientific principles to perfect each piece. Three-dimensional art pieces that made use of shadows and depth techniques as well as strong geometric guidelines helped to define early Renaissance art.  

Anatoly’s Art History: Medieval Art

There are noticeable differences between the art of today and the art of yesterday. Even haphazard, fleeting glances can reveal entire worlds of differences between art from different time periods–even art originating from the same exact place.

The differences apparent in various periods of art history can be traced back to a number of factors, the most prominent of which is the people and the cultures surrounding them. That’s why I’ve been taking the time each month to review various periods and settings of art on my blogs at TonyVanetik.net and TonyVanetik.WordPress.com. New eras and specific cultures’ arts are inviting and worth exploring by their own merits. I began the journey with Ancient Roman art, then followed with Ancient Egyptian art and then took a step way, way back to the Stone Age, I’ve covered both cave paintings as well as Stonehenge in the past. After wrapping up the Stone Age pieces, shifting primarily to this WordPress blog and touching on Baroque art, I’ve changed focus now to Medieval Artwork. Here it goes.

Medieval Art

When many people think of Medieval times, they think of knights in armor, jousting, kings and queens and conquests of grandiose proportions. What’s often forgotten is the incredible array of art and artists that existed during this time and continue to exist today.

As most historians or history buffs would be able to tell you, the period known as Medieval period (or middle ages, to many)  began in the 5th century, and gave way to the early renaissance period in the 14th and  15th centuries. The renaissance overshadows the Middle Ages largely in an art and culture capacity, but both will get their due time on this blog, as I try not to show any inherent bias when it comes to art.

Like many other periods, Middle Ages art can be divided further down by both specific time periods and locations. Let’s look at a few.

Byzantine Art

Byzantine Art was some of the earliest art in the Middle ages and originated as religious artwork for the Eastern Orthodox Church. As a result of this, much of the art was centered around religious figures and had religious themed to it.

A notable featured of Byzantine Art is the flat, almost exclusively two-dimensional traits to it, and the jettisoning of realistic figures in favor of more symbolic, anti-naturalistic styles. This came with an almost solemn-looking tone to the paintings’ central figures, due to the long faces of the forward-facing people within them.

Romanesque Art

Created for what would be known as the Catholic Church, Romanesque Art took place after 1000 AD, roughly. This period was known mainly for its illuminated manuscripts, fresco art, and a shift towards more realistic depictions of the actors within the art pieces.  Romanesque Art also brought with it a heightened sense of prevalence on sculpture, which was formerly seen as creating false icons for idolatry.

Gothic Art

With the advent of Gothic Art came huge advancements in technique. Gothic Art brought with it a further-heightened sense of realism and featured more bright colors, more naturalism and a wider array of shadows and light techniques.

This period, which lasted from the 12-14th centuries, also saw the decline in religion-centric art in favor of secular pieces.

Anatoly’s Art History: Baroque

Baroque 1600-1725

In 1517, Martin Luther started the Reformation Movement by criticizing the church with his 95 Theses. This historic act of defiance against the church spawned Baroque art was supported by the Catholic Church as a way to teach christianity to the uneducated, and to counter the sentiments of the Reformation. The Council of Trent, a council formed in the mid-1500s to discuss the actions needed to quiet the Reformation, and decided that art should be related to huge milestones of the Christian Church, and used as a way to illustrate Catholic dogma to everyone. The Baroque time period embraced paintings, sculptures, and architecture of this time period is intricately detailed, religious based, and dramatic to get their point across in meaningful way. The time period began around 1600 in Italy, spreading to the rest of Europe in the following years.

The word “Baroque” is derived from the Italian word “barocco,” meaning “bizarre” and the Spanish word “barrueco,” meaning “imperfect pearl.” The term baroque was initially used in a negative sense to describe the movement because the exaggerated scenes in Baroque art were such a stark contrast from the rational and realistic artwork that was created during the renaissance.

Baroque art would eventually move to Rococo movement or “Late Baroque,” which is described as being more jovial and less dramatic in subject matter, but still ornate and detailed. It may have started as a movement for the Catholic Church, but it certainly didn’t stay that way for long. By the mid 1600s, baroque began moving further away from the church and closer to secular themes.


Prominent artists during this period focused around scenes that had exaggerated, dramatic qualities, deep colors, and intense dark shadows and highlights. One of the techniques they used in order to achieve this was chiaroscuro. Originating during the Renaissance, the chiaroscuro technique was all about using strong contrasts between light and dark to give 3 dimensional shape to subjects. While it may have started in the Renaissance, artists employed this technique on a whole other level, adding drama to the piece as well as dimension. The paintings are extremely detailed and realistic, and since they were first supported by the Catholic Church, most have a religious focus and showcase a moment in time that has energy and sense of urgency.


In the Baroque era, sculptures were similar to the paintings, being elegant and ornate, but also having a certain energy behind it. Sculptures often seem to extend past the actual scene, as many of the subjects are reaching outward or pointing to the heavens. A common theme for sculptors was to show the moment when a human being would encounter angels and other heavenly beings. Like Baroque paintings, sculptors focused on intricate details and exaggerated  features.


Although the Baroque period tapered off and moved toward Rococo style in the mid-1700s, the idealistic Baroque architecture was still an influential means of design. The paintings and sculptures of this time were ornate, and the architecture is no different. Like the paintings, architecture during this time also used the chiaroscuro technique, using a contrast of shaded areas and lit areas. Saint Peter’s Basilica is considered to be a precursor to Baroque architecture with a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque techniques. Buildings that followed had similar characteristics with large scale frescoes on the ceilings, ornate paintings and decorations throughout, and complex architectural components on the exterior of the buildings.

Anatoly’s Art History: The Stone Age Part III

Bringing yourself in touch with the art & culture of a time period can be achieved easily by narrowing your focus of concentration to a type of art or specific culture.  Breaking down art history into its five distinct categories in a recent post, I’ve decided to dive deeply into each era individually, exploring the intricacies of what made ancient art ancient, or what makes modern art modern.

Each month on TonyVanetik.net I have been choosing new eras and specific cultures’ art, and diving into the history and intricacies of what made their artform unique and noteworthy. Going way, way back to the Stone Age, I’ve covered both cave paintings as well as Stonehenge in the past. With such an incredibly wide breadth of art created during this period, it’s easy to focus on entirely new concepts every month almost endlessly. However, this month will wrap up the Stone Age, covering the sculptures and figurines created by our cave-dwelling ancestors.


The Stone Age Part III: Sculptures and Figures

The years (and years, and years and years) that Prehistoric art covers, as well as the categories, subcategories and sub-subcategories that fall under the umbrella are virtually limitless and could be written about ad infinitum. However, my time is not limitless, so instead of dwelling on the prehistoric art that helped to set the stage for that of today, I’ll instead be wrapping up the period with this third and final post on Stone Age (or prehistoric, essentially interchangeable names) art.



When we picture sculptures today, our minds likely wander to one of a few distinct places. Perhaps you’re picturing the likes of the Thinker, the statue of David, the Disc Thrower, or one of the countless sculptures that adorn college campuses across the country. These are the enduring works that draw countless eyes in museums and galleries around the world. They’re coveted so highly for their beautiful intricacies, their size and the symbolism embedded in each curve in the marble they’re sculptured from. The earliest forms of sculpture we’re not made from marble (of course) and were not as intricate or lifelike. In fact, some question whether they’re even art.

Primitive Sculptures

Some of the first works of art discovered from the Stone Age are the incredibly primitive, relatively hominid-looking figures such as the Venus of Tan-Tan and the Venus of Berekhat Ram. Both figures are very very rough, relatively human shaped stone carvings, shaped by a sharp piece of stone. Initially thought to be naturally occurring stones that were simply coincidentally shaped the way they are, both figures support the now confirmed via microscopic examinations theory that they were indeed carved–perhaps by the same artist!

Relief Sculpture

Relief sculptures were created on the same or similar cave walls as the oh-so-popular cave paintings of the Stone Age. Perhaps the most well-known and important to modern art is the Tuc d’Audoubert Cave, where over 300 pieces of prehistoric art were discovered, including cave paintings, rock carvings and relief sculptures including a pair of bison made of clay.

The Venus Figurines

Not to be confused with the above early carvings mentioned in the “Primitive Sculptures” section, the Venus figurines were created much later by the cro-magnon people, who proved to be more adept artists than their neanderthal predecessors. The Venus figurines were very small figures that share some similarities with African fertility statues. These statuettes were of women exclusively, and featured oversized hips and breasts. Unlike fertility statues–the purpose of which is known and in the name–the purpose behind the creation of the Venus figurines  is still subject to debate. Some historians believe that they were indeed fertility statues, while others claim they are religious artifacts. Without a firm grasp on the role that females and religion played in the Stone Age, no one is quite sure which of the two is correct.


This is hardly the beginning or the end of Stone Age art. But it is the end of my series of art history blogs on it. If you want to explore more stone age art, visit Visual-Arts-Cork.com; if you want to read more about art history, visit TonyVanetik.net.