Proto- Renaissance PeriodBeginning in the late 13th century and ending in the early 14th century, Italian scholars began to reinvent themselves by connecting with classical Roman culture once again. They began to value stagnant languages and traditions by connecting with Roman intellectual traditions that fell with the Empire in the 6th century.
Renaissance StifledUp until 1401, the movement was suffocated by war and the Black Plague. With not only Italy, but Europe as a whole, suffering under the iron grip of the Plague, artists, scholars, and the wealthy had to put luxuries to the side.
Lorenzo Ghiberti wins major competitionLorenzo Ghiberti (c. 1378-1455) kickstarts the movement by winning a competition to design a new set of bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Cathedral of Florence, beating out even contemporary ground-breakers such as Donatello and the architect Filippo Brunelleschi.
Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di SimoneTommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, better known as Masaccio,the artist of the frescoes of the Trinity in the Church of Santa Maria Novella and Brancacci Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine, both in Florence, Masaccio's hometown, was also a major influence on early Renaissance Art.
MichaelangeloMichelangelo (1475-1564) is a world-renowned sculptor, painter, and poet. His most famous works include the Sistine Chapel, the most sacred part of the Vatican, which is the head of the Catholic Church, the Pieta, a depiction of the Virgin Mary holding her dead son Jesus Christ's body in her arms, and David, a 17- foot statue of David, the young shepherd who killed the giant Goliath and eventually became the king of Judah. All these pivotal works added to the awe surrounding the Renaissance.
High Renaissance Art PeriodThis period in Renaissance was the so-called golden age of the evolution of art and Italy as well. The three main artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael flourished for about 35 years, from the early 1490's-1527. In this time, works such as the Sistine Chapel, Mona Lisa, and The School of Athens were created.
Inspiration for High Renaissance ArtIn the High Renaissance Art Period, religious symbolism and images were often used. Christianity, at this point in time,swept across Europe. Italians adopted Catholicism, and it was a major part of life. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the Virgin Mary is a recurring image in Renaissance works. To us, these religious paintings and sculptures are seen as masterpieces, but at the time, even the Pieta was seen as simply a devotional shrine.
Decline of the RenaissanceBy the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Renaissance started to lose its momentum to a new art style, the Mannerist style, which at first was "anti-classical" and "anti-Renaissance", but later developed into an intricate, inward-looking, intellectual feel which appealed to scholars looking to buy art. However, the beauty of the Renaissance was never forgotten, then or now.