The French word renaissance, meaning rebirth, is used to describe a period of Western European history between the 15th and 17th centuries. Before the Renaissance, Europeans lived in a period we call the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, Europeans were concerned with the church and religion, and everyone's activities centered around getting to heaven rather than life here on earth. The Black Death, a plague that killed one third of Europe's people, made daily European life scary and dangerous. To escape the danger, at least in their minds, people turned to God and the church.
Europe emerged from the Middle Ages and experienced financial, artistic, social, scientific and political growth. The Renaissance was a rebirth that occurred throughout most of Europe but the changes that we associate with the Renaissance first occurred in the Italian city of Florence. Locate Florence on a map for students.
Much of the financial growth that occurred during the Renaissance was used to support the creation of art and architecture. New materials, subjects and techniques established during the Renaissance remain with us today. New trade routes across the Atlantic Ocean aided by innovations in navigation and cartography led explorers to sources of exotic foods, spices, silks, gold and silver. Significant inventions and advancements were made in mathematics, machinery, medicine, astronomy and physics.
As we studied in class, artists as Piero de lla Francesca, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci made portraits order by different patrons of the art. The way they represented these people was according to the personal interpretation of the painter. So I want you to look for a portrait of this time made by any of these painters and try to guess the point of view and personality of the subject that appears. Write between 8 to 10 lines answering questions as:
- What do you see (visual inventory of the work)?
- What is the subject of the portrait wearing?
- What does the clothing tell us about the subject?
- Where is the subject situated? Home? Restaurant? Pub? How can you tell?
- What other items do you see in the background? What do they tell us about the subject?
- What time of day is it? How can you tell? Is this important? Why or why not?
- How do you think the subject of this portrait feels? How can you tell?
- Can you describe his personality by looking at him?