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Art In The Middle Ages And The Renaissance And Its Effect In Society History Of Art Essay

834 words - 4 pages

what is greco-roman heritage? how has it influenced the art of its times?. The remains of Greco-Roman antiquity coins, gems, sculpture, buildings, and the classics of Greek and Latin literature—fascinated the thinking men and women of the Italian Renaissance. The arts and the humanities, they reasoned, had declined during the “middle ages” that stretched between the end of antiquity and their own time, but by emulating the exemplary works of the ancients, even striving to surpass them, contemporary artists and writers might restore the arts and letters to their former grandeur. In Renaissance Italy, the desire to know and to match the excellence of the ancients often engendered passionate endeavor. The Florentine author Niccolò Machiavelli, for example, described his nightly retreats into his library in these memorable words: “At the door I take off my muddy everyday clothes. I dress myself as though I were about to appear before a royal court as a Florentine envoy. Then decently attired I enter the antique courts of the great men of antiquity. They receive me with friendship; from them I derive the nourishment which alone is mine and for which I was born. Without false shame I talk with them and ask them the causes of the actions; and their humanity is so great they answer me. For four long and happy hours I lose myself in them. I forget all my troubles; I am not afraid of poverty or death. I transform myself entirely in their likeness.” Artists likewise worked to transform their art by studying, measuring, drawing, and imitating admired examples of classical sculpture and architecture, and this is reflected in many of the greatest works in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Fra Carnevale’s Birth of the Virgin, part of an altarpiece completed in 1467 for the Church of Santa Maria della Bella in Urbino, places the narrative in a loggia accessed through classical arches, while the upper story of the building is decorated with reliefs that allude to Roman sculpture and gems and cameos. Similar attention to antiquity is revealed in the monumental Adam of ca. 1490–95 by the Venetian sculptor Tullio Lombardo. Originally part of the tomb of the Doge Andrea Vendramin (d. 1478) now in the Venetian Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Adam was one of eighteen classically inspired marbles decorating the monument. Giovanni Bologna’s Triton, a bronze statuette of ca. 1560–70, illustrates the Flemish sculptor’s attraction to the serpentine forms of later Hellenistic art, examples of which he saw and copied during his 1550 trip to Rome.
In the sixteenth century, antique sculpture and architecture became popular subject matter for prints that eventually helped generate interest in...

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