Dark Ages vs Renaissance                        Art

Dark Ages - Illumination
Dark Ages Illumination
Manuscript possibly from the Dark Ages
Dark Ages depiction of the Virgin Mary
Early Renaissance Painting
Jan van Eyck's mastery in the representation of space and light along with his meticulous attention to detail have challenged scholars to attempt to identify the details included in his paintings. For example, the details of the church included in the Berlin Madonna in the Church are so precise that scholars have tried to relate this to particular known structures. Van Eyck has very obviously studied Gothic architecture enough to introduce a contrast in design between the clerestory and triforium in the nave and in the transept. Despite the best efforts of scholars no convincing identification has been made.
Painting of the Birth of Jesus. All elements of the composition—figures, cityscape, landscape—spiral in response to the panel's round shape. This is one of the first examples of a tondo, or circular painting, which in the 1400s became popular for domestic religious paintings. In the case of the Adoration, the shape may have been suggested by deschi da parto, painted platters used to bring fruit, sweets, and gifts to refresh new mothers after giving birth.
Sandro Botticelli, a Florentine, painted several versions of the theme of the Adoration of the Magi. The Magi, or wise men, were particularly venerated in Florence, as one of the city's leading religious confraternities was dedicated to them. Earlier Renaissance paintings of this theme, such as the Gallery's tondo by Fra Angelico and Fra Lippi, emphasize the pomp and pageantry of the scene. As painted by Botticelli in this late version, the religious aspect is stressed. Each figure is an expression of piety, the postures of their hands and bodies revealing devotion, reverence and contemplation on the divine mystery before them.
This work of religious art - a masterpiece of High Renaissance painting - by the Urbino master Raphael, was the last of his Madonnas and one of the last pictures he completed himself. Among the great examples of altarpiece art, it was commissioned by Pope Julius II and installed on the high altar of the Benedictine abbey church of San Sisto (St. Sixtus) in Piacenza.
A drawing of the head of a woman turned three quarters to the left, looking down. The hair is fastened in elaborate braids, and arranged in coils over the ears. This is a study for the head of Leda in the lost painting of Leda and the Swan. The mythical Leda was seduced by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Leonardo worked on two compositions of the subject, finally executing a painting that was destroyed in the eighteenth century. In the four surviving studies of Leda's head, Leonardo expended little effort on her expression, simply adopting the usual downward glance; in the central two drawings he may even have left the face blank, for the faces there are of poor quality and may have been 'filled in' by a pupil. Instead Leonardo devoted all his attention to the most complicated of hairstyles, with dense whorls and woven plaits, even studying the head from the back - quite unnecessarily for a painted image.
The wall enclosing the Virgin and Child represents the 'hortus conclusus' or enclosed garden of the Old Testament (Song of Solomon 4:12), an image much favoured in litanies of the Virgin Mary. This ambitious, if rather awkward, picture is related to an early composition by Botticelli (now in Naples). The motif of angels holding the Christ Child up to the Virgin ultimately derives from a famous work by Fra Filippo Lippi (in Florence).
The painting of the Madonna in the Meadow (also called the Madonna Belvedere) was executed by a twenty-something Raphael while in Florence. The scene shows the Virgin with Christ and St. John the Baptist in a highly serene and tender moment against a landscape backdrop which places the scene in a Tuscan setting. In addition to being the cousin of Christ, St. John the Baptist was the patron of Florence, making his presence here in a Florentine setting very appropriate. The figures in the painting are arranged in a pyramidal composition. This is something that Raphael picked up from Leonardo, particularly his popular cartoon showing the Virgin, St. Anne, and their children, which was located in another church in Florence. Raphael also picked up on Leonardo’s use of fine chiaroscuro to model the figures so that they appear to take up actual space within the picture. Unlike Leonardo, however, Raphael used a lighter color palette that was more in keeping with the palette used by his teacher, Perugino.
The construction of the Tower of Babel during the Dark Ages.
Renaissance version of the construction of the Tower of Babel
Painted in 1645 when Rembrandt was 39, this painting falls somewhere between genre and portraiture. The girl’s identity remains uncertain; in the past she has been described as a courtesan, a Jewish bride or an historical or Biblical figure. It is more widely accepted that she is a servant girl; her rosy, tanned complexion along with her brown arms implies she worked outdoors. Leaning on a ledge, she stares directly out of the painting while fiddling with her necklace, either a gold chain or a cord, like that seen around the cuffs and along the seams of her loose chemise. She also wears a small headdress, possibly a type worn in North Holland, and her hair is tied back with red string.