Religion in the Renaissance - (Erin Giove)

This gallery features Religion in the Renaissance, with a focus on Italian painters.  These religious depictions were chosen based on their use of color, perspective, and movement.  Some of these are representations of Biblical stories, while others are depictions of saints and important religious figures and saints.  

This polyptych, painted by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli, also known as Giampietrino, was painted in the late 1530's during the Renaissance period. Polyptychs are named so because of their multi-paneled scenes. The Madonna and the Christ Child are featured in the center panel, with St. John the Baptist, St. Mary Magdalene, St. George, and St. Martha represented on the four panels on the flanks. The two female saints were painted with identical, angular backgrounds, while the two male saints were depicted in round niches. The human realism is beautifully rendered in the rich color palette of reds, blues, and greens, surrounded in a relief-carved, gold frame. The folds and draping of the fabrics within the painting give the paintings movement and life.
The Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Francis at the Porziuncola, was painted around 1450 by the Master of the Porciuncula. What makes this religious painting interesting is its use of tempera, oil and gold leaf. The gold leaf gives it a shimmer and opulence, and the contrast between the gold, reds, browns, whites and black give it depth. While little is available for the description of the image, the title suggests that Saint Francis is front left, with the apparition of the Madonna and Christ Child in the center. Depth is also achieved with the layering of other characters directly behind the main characters in front. The perspective is one that appears to be directly in front and slightly above the crowd, allowing the viewer to see all the faces. Movement is achieved with the woman in front and right, holding a platter, and the Christ Child's limbs, which appear to be in mid-movement. The faces in the background are facing in random directions, giving the appearance of conversations.
This tempera and gold on parchment was designed by Lorenzo Monaco around 1410, and completed by by Zanobi di Benedetto Strozzi and Battista di Biagio Sanguini around 1431. The Color is striking, with the blues and reds highlighted by the gold surrounding it. This Biblical image depicts the twelve disciples gathered in the center of the letter "V", gazing up at the ascending Christ. The acanthus leaves scroll upwards around the letter, giving more upwards movement to Christ's ascension. The draping, flowing fabrics and shadows add depth and perception to this beautiful work.
This painting of St. George Slaying the Dragon was painted by Paolo Uccello in 1430, using tempera, oil, and silver leaf on wood. The nature of good versus evil is depicted in this beautiful artwork, with God overseeing the duel in the sky. It combines two renditions of the story of St. George and the dragon. The people of Silene, Libya had been sacrificing their children in vain to the dragon, hoping to appease it. It came time for the King's daughter to be sacrificed, but St. George rode out and subdued the dragon, allowing the princess to capture it. In the painting, however, the second rendition is also depicted, in which St. George is credited as beheading the dragon. The use of color helps to convey good versus evil, or light colors versus dark colors. St. George is rounded, light and smooth, and the dragon is sharp, pointy, and dark. Depth and perception are achieved with the city in the background and God overlooking it all.
This tempera on a panel of Madonna with Child and Angels; Annunciation was painted by Giovanni di Paolo between 1440-1445. The gold background of this painting enhances the figures in front. The detailed edges of the draping, flowing fabrics, the transparency of the Madonna's veil, the baby suckling at his mother's breast, all add more realism to the humanism achieved. Beside them, two cherubs look on. Above, a small panel depicts the future crucifixion. Depth and perception are achieved through the shadows of the fabric and the the narrowing of the tiles towards the back of the painting behind the figures.
This altar piece of tempera and gold leaf on a panel was painted by Stefano d'Antonia di Vanni in 1430. The Annunciation scene depicts the Biblical story in which the archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God. Haloes were a common way of depicting spiritual dialog in religious images. Above them in the spandrel, is David, depicted as the Old Testament Prophet. Behind Gabriel is a garden, meant to symbolize Mary's virginity. The three predella panels painted at the base, show Mary's birth, her presentation at the Temple, and her death. The use of color in this scene is beautiful, with Mary being clothed in blue and gold, and Gabriel in light red with wings of rainbow feathers. The perspective of this piece of art is a little strange, in that the lines don't all move in the same direction, which gives the impression that the artist wanted the focal point to be in the middle where the conversation exchange happened. As with many works of art in the Renaissance, the draping of the fabric is realistic, giving movement to the image, along with the heavenly figure reaching down from the top left of the scene.
The Adoration of the Magi is a tempera painting on a panel, painted by Cosme Tura in 1480. The scene depicts the three Magi presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child, accompanied by Mary and Joseph. Reds, blues, black and gold are predominant in this striking image. Depth is achieved with shadowing and the layering of the characters within the scene, and the background of the brick wall and hills in the distance, and movement is achieved by the actions of the figures of handing or receiving objects. The perception is a bit strange with the brick arch in the background, but seems to be consistent with the left or right profiling of characters.
This tempera, oil and gold painting on a panel was painted by Matteo di Giovanni between 1430-1495. The Madonna and Child with Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Nicholas of Talento is a vibrant and beautiful rendition of Sienese art. The punchwork in the gold leaf and the stylized poses of the characters with remarkable realistic features make this piece stand out. Mary and the Christ Child are front and center, with Saint Nicholas of Tolentino to the right, Saint Anthony to the left, and angels the background. The facial details are striking, with their smooth and graceful features. The depth is achieved with the layering of the characters, giving a defined perception pointing to the heads Mary and the Christ Child. There appears to be little movement in this piece, compared with others, since this style tends to depict poses rather than action.
This tempera and tooled gold on a panel was painted by Zanobi Strozzi in 1450, and depicts the Virgin and Child with Four Angels and the Redeemer. Mary and the Christ child are front and center, surrounded by the four angels. Above them, on a triangular panel, God is depicted looking down on them. The gold leaf is intricately tooled with beautiful designs and halos around the characters. Blues and reds dominate the scene against the gold. The draping fabrics and shadowing gives a flowing, graceful movement, along with the baby's outreaching arms. The perception lines draw the eye to the center of the piece, where Mary's robe creates a black circle around the two of them.
This altarpiece of tempera on a panel was painted by Matteo di Giovanni in 1464. The Annunciation with Saints John the Baptist, Bernardine of Siena; Crucifixion, Saints Peter and Paul is a replica of the famous Annunciation painted by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi in 1333 for the Duomo of Siena. A beautiful depiction of Sienese style, the figures are posed, with facial features being incredibly detailed and realistic. Within the scene, the archangel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary to tell her she will give birth the Christ Child. Surrounding the figures are Saint John the Baptist, Saint Bernadine of Siena, the Crucifixion, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul. The dominant colors are red, black, brown, and gold. Sienese art is highly stylized with the way the bodies are posed, and perception is often limited to a few angels which are all used within the same scene. Hand gestures, haloes, and symbols are used to convey more depth in meaning.
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