A1. Earlier Historical Art Period
In the early 1300s, Europeans began to shed the dark and oppressing mindsets of the Middle Ages. This sparked a revolution that would begin in Italy and spread throughout Europe, and is known today as the Renaissance. The word Renaissance literally (and fittingly) means ‘rebirth’ – making it a fitting title for a period where interest in learning, philosophy, and the classical arts were ‘reborn’.
Where the Middle Ages took the meaning out of the arts – using paintings and sculptures for nothing more than decorations in houses of religion, for instance – the Renaissance gave it back. Artists began to experiment and came up with new and original ideas instead of acting solely on old ones. As people saw what art truly was, their tastes began to grow and branch out, meaning that artists had to come up with new content to satisfy their growing audience. Also growing rapidly was city population, resulting in an increase in wealth that provided funds with which the arts could expand.
And expand they did. Paintings stopped focusing solely on religious models and took on new subjects such as portraits, landscapes, scenes of everyday life, and studies of the human form. Instead of focusing on the natural world and the hereafter, paintings focused on the material world and the here and now. New techniques were developed, combining science and mathematics with art, such as linear perspective and the depiction of light and shadow.
Sculpture and architecture were largely influenced by the classical world. Sculptors used new materials, developed new techniques, became more expressive with their creations, and created three-dimensional figures that deviated from stylization. Architecture became more calculated, geometric and mathematical. Architects reintroduced arches, columns, symmetry, and domes to their craft – components that were common in ancient Rome. Churches were no longer the only beautiful buildings, as people took more interest in secular buildings such as libraries and theatres.
Also influenced by the classical world was literature. Religion was forced onto people in the Middle Ages, but when the Renaissance began, those people started to look back on the philosophies of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Interest in humanism – the belief that one can rely on intellect and common sense instead of a god – soared to new heights. Respect grew for the classical authors, and often Renaissance authors would copy the themes and styles in classical literature.
A2. Later Historical Art Period
The eighteen hundreds saw the birth of Romanticism, a period of time where emotion was thought to be more important than reason. The preceding period, called the Enlightenment, had put heavy emphasis on thought and intellect and rationalization. In response, Romanticism strove to put that same emphasis on feelings and emotional response. Romantics turned to nature for true beauty and for means of escape, relied on...