Art of Renaissance and Baroque Europe

Fill in the outline below. 

Describe the highlighted works of art, including your personal response to several of them. 


Answer the Overview Questions.


1) The Renaissance


The Renaissance was a period of new and renewed understanding that transformed the medieval European world, and laid the foundation for modern society.  New values combined with technological advances brought forth a new style of art in the fourteenth century.  Painting and sculpture were liberated from their medieval roles as supplements to architecture.  Artists, who considered themselves anonymous workers in the Middle Ages, came to be seen as individuals of creative genius.


What is the basic meaning of the word “Renaissance”?

Forms of art used in this period.


Describe The Holy Trinity by Masaccio, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, 1425

The painting is 317cm wide and 667cm wide, hence vertical to horizontal propotion is                     2:1. The desighn was an actual legde that was used then as an altar. The art enhanced depth and reality by projecting between the upper and lower sections of the fresco.


Describe The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1480

The painting clearly shows the arrival of goddess venus on the show after her birth, emerging from the sea fully grown. Venus stands nude on a shell as on the left the wind god blows her holding a female who blows gently and both have wings. On the left there is a lady who is slightly floating on air holding a dress and reaching out to the goddess.


2) The High Renaissance


Who are the 3 key artists of the High Renaissance in Italy?

Leornado da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael.


Describe Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-1506

The portrait clearly shows the subject sitting in an upright position as well as sideways. Her face and chest are slightly facing the viewer. Her left arm rests comfortably on the arm of the chair as the right one clasped on it. The background is a landscape with smoky blues and no clearly defined vanishing point.


Describe The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy,


The portrait potrays all twelve disciples seated together with Jesus, each showing a different reaction on the news that one of them would betray him. Judas is wearing green and blue with a small bag in his hand.


*Look at Raphael’s The School of Athens, Vatican, Rome, by Raphael, 1508 (Chapter 3)

Is implied space—using linear perspective—important in this painting?

Name the two philosophers who are the center of interest in this masterpiece.

Paulus of Middelburg and Euclid


3) The Renaissance in Northern Europe


Describe The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, 1434

It is a potrit of the Italian merchant Giovanni de Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife. They are in their home and her wife is holding her skirted dress making her look pregnant. The man is lifting his arm as if taking an oath, while the other hand holds her wife’s palm. the mirror shows two figure that the couple are facing.


Describe Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel, 1565

The portrait shows three hunters who are returning from hunting accompanied by their dogs. The hunters look tired and disappointed while their dogs look miserable. Infront of the hunters are footsteps of a rabit that escaped and was missed by the hunters. The colours are clearly muted grey and white.


4) Late Renaissance and Mannerism in Italy


            Describe Feast in the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese, 1573

The portrait depicts a tall figure of Christ in a green robe. The people in the room are interacting with each other, as they pose in different positions.


Describe Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro by Rosso Fiorentino, 1523

The portrait depicts four men on ground as another one is about to join them on the ground. At the centre there is one who is standing strong beating the others. On the far right there is a lady standing, not scared but proud, and other ladies are seen far behind her. Also in the portrait next to the lady there are two sheep.


5) Baroque


During the Baroque period from approximately 1600 to 1750, art moves in a new direction; it is a time of change.  Baroque art is an international style—including the countries listed below.




Describe The Conversion of Saint Paul by Caravaggio, 1600-1601


Describe David by Bernini, 1623

It’s a full life size human sculpture of stone, marble. The statue stands alert, his mouth frowning in grimacing detail as his hand reaches back to get a stone. The antique depicts the image of David that is explained in the old testament while fighting Goliath.


            Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands


Describe The Raising of the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-1611

The potriat depicts men who are struggling with all their might to raise the cross, where pale Jesus body is hanging. On the left there is John and Mary, children and weeping women. On the right there is a solder on a horse and in the backgroung the other thieves are being crucified.


Describe Retun of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1668-1669

The farther stands at the center of the portrait welcoming his son who is on his knees, with ragged garments. The oldman sleeves are golden, as his face looks warm and welcoming. On the left is a man with a sad face looking down while at the back are two ladies one standing and the other one seated.


Describe The Kitchen Maid by Jan Vermeer, 1658

The portrait depicts a lady standing before a rough, white plastered wall. She is carefully pouring milk into an earthenware bowl. The window infront of her allows in light which kisses her face gracefully.


            Spain and France


Describe The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas) by Diego Velazquez, 1665

the painting depicts several characters , some are looking at one another while others are looking at the the middle there is a girl, with two maids each standing beside her. There is painter who stops painting and looks directly at the observer. A dog and two dwarfs are seen at the front right.

Describe the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 1678

The room is highly decorated and made with lots of mirrors. It was one of the most used rooms during the time of kings.


6) Rococo–a light, playful version of the Baroque


            Describe Happy Accidents of the Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard, 1767

The painting depicts a lady on a swing under a giant tree. A young man is hiding in bushes smiling as she can see under the dress of the lady. A man propels the swing using ropes and he is unaware of the young man in the bushes. Two statues are present on top of the young man and another one besides the old man.





  1. What are some of the key features of the High Renaissance and the art of this time period?

Classical humanism was seen in both paintings and sculptures, shading and other styles that enhanced realism and techniqes of linear perspective.

  1. What are some of the key features of Baroque art?

Sensuality, emotional content, realism, classism, and use of mural painting skills.

  1. There is a strong desire to find patterns in art history that are repeated over and over again. Several theories have been proposed.


As art history moves from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, which of the three theories outlined below, in your opinion, best describes the change?


One theory is the Sequential Theory—art history is a sequence of styles that simply        build upon each other over time.


Another theory is the Satiation or Saturation Theory—art history is a reflection of         human nature, and human beings continually seek change and new challenges.      Therefore, art history is a reflection of this ongoing search for novelty.


Another theory is the Dialectic Theory—art history moves back and forth between ideas that are opposites of each other; art history is like a pendulum.  One example of this is the following:  Art is a reflection of humanity’s confidence in itself (we are strong, capable            beings, masters of our fate!) VERSUS humanity’s lack of confidence in itself (we are     flawed; our lives easily spin out of control).



Additional information on two works of art:


During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing Illustration of Proportions of the Human Figure (located in the Media Library on the Course Menu) was an expression of confidence in humanity.  In the drawing, the figure is posed in two positions:  a) hands outstretched to the side and legs straight, and b) hands overhead and legs spread apart.  This is symbolic.  The first posture represents REASON; we have logical thinking to help us arrive at true knowledge.  If a line is drawn around this figure, it creates a perfect SQUARE.   The second posture represents FAITH; we have our beliefs to help us arrive at true knowledge.  If a line is drawn around this figure, it creates a perfect CIRCLE.  We are both a perfect square and a perfect circle!  Reason and faith go hand in hand; they are not contradictory.  Leonardo believed that we are created with these proportions as a reminder of our two special gifts: reason and faith.  In today’s world, the outlook on reason and faith is more controversial.  They are often viewed as incompatible sources of knowledge that conflict with each other.


The Arnolfini Portrait (Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride) by Jan van Eyck is often referred to as the world’s first oil painting.  Oil paints surpass water-based paints in their ability to capture great detail. The visual element of texture is IMPLIED.  Look at the way the artist captures the fur on his cloak, the gathered fabric of her dress, the smooth surface of the metal candelabra, the grain on the wood floorboards, the fur of the dog, etc.


The painting functions as a marriage certificate for the bride and groom.  It is a record of a special event; in fact, the two witnesses to the marriage are shown in the background mirror.  The artist signs his name and dates the painting, underneath the mirror, just as he would sign a document.  The objects in the painting are symbolic.


Dog = fidelity

Light streaming through the window and the candle in the chandelier = Divine presence

Red bed = passion

Green dress = fertility (no, she is not pregnant!)