As you can see in Donatello’s work David, he stands with his hand on his hip and a slight smirk, suggesting that the subject is both confident and satisfied with himself.
Unlike during the Middle Ages when all artwork was commissioned by the Catholic Church, new patrons (supporters of the arts) began to arise across Europe. Wealthy nobles such as Lorenzo di Medici and Isabella d’Este supported the work of dozens of talented artists and paid for them to create some of humanity’s most powerful works of art. Renaissance artists still portrayed religious subjects, but they used a more realistic style that focused on the “human” characteristics of their subjects.
The New Techniques of Donatello
Donatello made sculpture more realistic by carving natural postures and expressions that reveal personality. He revived a classical form by carving the statue of David after the defeat of Goliath. It was the first European sculpture of a large nude figure since the fall of the ancient Roman Empire. Donatello made an effort to depict his figures realistically, giving them distinctive postures (the way they hold their bodies) and facial expressions that were meant to convey emotions.
Leonardo, the Renaissance Man
This is Raphael’s depiction of Michelangelo in his “School of Athens”
What’s she smiling about anyway?
Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, inventor, and scientist, among other things. A true “Renaissance man,” he was deeply interested in how things worked. He studied how a muscle moves or how veins are arranged in a leaf. He filled his notebooks with observations and sketches of new inventions, and he incorporated his findings in his art.
Among his many masterpieces, Leonardo painted one of the best known portraits in the world, the Mona Lisa. The woman in the portrait seems so real that many writers have tried to explain the thoughts behind her slight smile. Leonardo also produced a famous religious painting, The Last Supper. It shows the personalities of Jesus’s disciples through facial expressions.
Michelangelo Lays on His Back All Day
It took Michelangelo nearly 3 years to sculpt this 18 foot tall statue of the Biblical hero David. His posture is graceful, but powerful.
Like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti was a true Renaissance man. He excelled at almost every area of study. Michelangelo was a painter, a sculptor, and architect, and a poet.
Michelangelo is most famous for the way he portrayed the human body in painting and sculpture. Influenced by classical art, he created figures that were forceful and showed heroic power. By doing this, he explored the Renaissance theme of human potential.
Perhaps his most famous work of art is a painting that covers the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The muscular human figures in this massive painting remind the viewer of Greek or Roman statues. He worked on it from 1508 to 1512, and some art historians believe that he placed hidden meanings in the work.
Raphael Advances Realism
Raphael was younger than Michelangelo and Leonardo. He learned from studying their works. One of Raphael’s favorite subjects was the Virgin Mary (Madonna) and her child (Jesus). Raphael often portrayed their expressions as gentle and calm.
In his greatest achievement, Raphael filled the walls of Pope Julius II’s library with several paintings. One of these, School of Athens, conveys the classical influence of the Renaissance. It showed classical and Renaissance figures together, with individuals such as Plato and Aristotle conversing with Michelangelo and da Vinci.