hoists to raise building materials and food to workers at the top of the dome as they were building it.
The magnificent dome was finished in 1436. It stood more than 300 feet above the city. It still stands today, over 500 years later. From its top you can see most of the city of Florence. (Caption)
The dome of the Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore rises from the octagonal (eight sided) cathedral. Its design is one of the great engineering achievements of the Renaissance. (Vocabulary)
hoist a mechanical device used to lift people or heavy objects Page 326
29.4 Advances in Painting
Wealthy patrons made Renaissance Florence a thriving center of art. The Medicis spent huge sums of money on fine palaces, paintings, and statues. The Palazzo Medici was filled with works of art that were commissioned by the family.
Patrons like the Medicis created opportunities for talented painters, who made a number of advances in style and technique. As you learned in the last chapter, Renaissance painters were influenced by the renewed interest in classical culture and the spread of humanism. They wanted to depict real people who were posed in lifelike ways and who showed feelings. They also wanted to include realistic backgrounds. The result was a very different style from the more flat, rigid painting of the Middle Ages.
One key advance made by Renaissance painters was the discovery of perspective. Painters use perspective to create the appearance of depth on a flat surface. Renaissance artists used several techniques to indicate depth. One was the size of objects. The smaller a painted object, the farther away it appears to be. The larger an object, the closer it appears to be. Painters also learned that a feeling of depth could be created by lines that came closer together as they receded into the distance. They discovered that careful shading could make figures and objects look three-dimensional. Adoration of the Magi, a famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, shows some of these techniques.
Science and mathematics helped artists make other advances. The Florentine artist Masaccio used geometry to figure out how to divide the space in a painting to make scenes appear more as they would in real life. Leonardo da Vinci and others studied anatomy. They observed bodies and how they moved. Their studies helped them to portray the human body more realistically.
Renaissance science also gave painters new materials, such as oil-based paints, to work with. Oil paint was made by mixing powdered pigments (colors) with linseed oil. This type of paint was thicker and dried more slowly than the older, egg-based paint. Oil paint also allowed artists to paint over previous work and to show details and texture in new ways. (Caption)
Renaissance painters were the first to use techniques of perspective. This is Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi. Notice the sense of distance, or depth, in the painting. Page 327
29.5 Advances in Sculpture
Like painters, Renaissance sculptors were influenced by the humanist interest in realism. They were also inspired by ancient Roman statues dug up from ruins. Sculptors began carving figures that looked like real people and showed emotions.
For the first time since the days of ancient Greece and Rome, sculptors made freestanding statues that could be viewed in the round. This was very different from the relief sculptures of medieval times. The new statues caused quite a sensation. They seemed to symbolize the humanist ideals of independence and individuality.
Donatello, a Florentine, was one of the first sculptors to use the new, more lifelike style. His work expressed personality and mood. A good example is his statue of David, the young warrior in the Bible story of David and Goliath. In the 1500s, Giorgio Vasari, an architect and painter, wrote that Donatello’s David is “so natural…it is almost imn possible…to believe it was not molded on the living form.” This statue is thought to be the first life-size nude statue since classical times.
Donatello’s work influenced Florence’s other great sculptor, Michelangelo. This famous artist is renowned both for his painting and his sculpture. He was also a talented poet and architect. Of all these arts, he preferred sculpture because it seemed to bring his subjects to life.
Michelangelo created his own majestic statue of David. It may be the world’s most widely admired sculpture. Carved in white marble, Michelangelo’s David stands about 17 feet tall. It is famed as an ideal of male beauty, yet it reflects humanist ideas. David’s expression shows the concentration and tension of a real youth on the verge of battle.
Michelangelo’s David was installed in the Piazza della Signoria, the plaza in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. It became the prized expression of Renaissance genius in Florence.
Michelangelo had an enormous influence on other artists. Giorgio Vasari was one of his followers. He wrote, “What a happy age we live in! And how fortunate are our craftsmen, who have been given light and vision by Michelangelo.” (Caption)
Moses (above) by Michelangelo sits at the tomb of Pope Julius II in Rome. (Caption)
Michelangelo’s David is perhaps the most admired sculpture in the world. Page 328
Literature, like other Renaissance art forms, was changed by the rebirth of interest in classical ideas and the rise of humanism. During the Italian Renaissance, the topics that people wrote about changed. So did their style of writing and the language in which they wrote.
In medieval times, literature usually dealt with religious topics. Most writers used a formal, impersonal style. Most Italian writers wrote in Latin. Their work could be read only by a few highly educated people.
In contrast, Renaissance writers were interested in individual experience and in the world around them. Writing about secular, or nonreligious, topics became more common. Writers used a more individual style, and they expressed thoughts and feelings about life. By the end of the Renaissance, most writers were writing in their own dialect instead of Latin. As a result, far more people could read their work.
Dante Alighieri, a native of Florence, was the first well-known writer to create literature in his native language. His best-known work, The Divine Comedy, was written in the early 1300s. This long poem describes Dante’s imaginary journey through the places where Christians believed that souls went in the afterlife. With the spirit of the ancient Roman poet Virgil as his guide, Dante witnesses the torments of souls condemned to Inferno, or hell. Virgil also takes him to Purgatory, a place between heaven and hell where souls await entry into heaven. Then a beautiful woman named Beatrice shows him Paradise, or heaven.
Like other humanist art, The Divine Comedy highlights strong emotions and the experiences of individuals. Dante’s poem is a social commentary, too. It is filled with real people. The inhabitants of hell included people Dante disapproved of. People he admired appeared in heaven.
Dante’s work became a model for other Renaissance writers. He strongly influenced two important Florentine writers, Petrarch and Boccaccio. They described people’s lives with a new intensity of feeling. Like Dante, they wrote using the local dialect, so their words touched many more people. (Caption)
Dante, a Renaissance writer in Florence, wrote a long poem called The Divine Comedy. Dante is painted here with scenes of heaven and hell as described in his poem. (Vocabulary)
secular relating to earthly life rather than to religion or spiritual matters Page 329
29.7 Advances in Science and Mathematics
The Renaissance was not just a time of progress in the arts. Scholars and others also made great advances in science and mathematics.
Before the Renaissance, most of what people believed about the natural world was based on ideas in ancient Greek and Roman texts. As the humanist spirit took hold, people started questioning old ideas. They began carefully observing the world around them. Instead of relying on old books and theories, scientists began to perform experiments. They analyzed the results using mathematics and logic. This approach to research changed the study of science.
One of the most creative Renaissance thinkers was Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was an artist, a scientist, and an inventor. He studied under art masters in Florence and did his early work there. It is said that he was often to be found thinking and sketching at his favorite church, Orsanmichele.
Leonardo was endlessly curious. He did not accept anything as true until he had proved it himself. In his notebooks, he sketched and wrote about an amazing variety of topics. He wrote about geometry, engineering, sound, motion, and architecture. He studied anatomy, including the circulation of blood and the workings of the eye. He learned about the effects of the moon on Earth’s tides. He was the first person to draw maps from a bird’s-eye view (above the ground). As an inventor, he designed bridges, weapons, and many other machines. Among his many farsighted ideas was an underwater diving suit.
Other Italian scientists and mathematicians made breakthroughs as well. Girolamo Cardano solved complex equations in algebra. Cardano, who was interested in gambling, also did pioneering work in probability, the science of chance. Galileo Galilei did important experiments concerning gravity. He proved that a heavier object and a lighter object fall at the same rate. If the two objects are dropped from the same height, they reach the ground at the same time. Galileo also built the first telescope that could be used to look into space. He used his telescope to discover sunspots and the moons of the planet Jupiter. By emphasizing observation and experiment, Galileo and other Renaissance scientists paved the way for modern science. (Caption)
Leonardo da Vinci studied many things, including human anatomy. These sketches of the muscles of the arm are from his notebooks. (Vocabulary)
circulation the movement of blood through the body Page 330
29.8 Florentine Politics
The local government of Florence was housed in the Palazzo Vecchio. Like other Italian city-states, Florence was ruled by a governing board. As you learned in Chapter 28, however, these boards were often controlled by rich families. The powerful Medici family controlled Florence for nearly three centuries.
The Medicis maintained their power in a number of ways. They built palaces and kept a strong military. They were involved in all aspects of life in the city. They were great supporters of artists, writers, and musicians. The Medicis also defeated enemies who plotted against the family or even to murder some of its members.
One of the most powerful members of the Medicis was Lorenzo the Magnificent. A leading patron of art and scholarship, Lorenzo ruled Florence for more than 20 years, from 1469 until his death in 1492. Two years later, a revolution forced the Medicis into temporary exile. In 1512, the family regained power.
A Florentine statesman and historian, Niccolo Machiavelli, watched these struggles for power. During the Medicis’ exile, he reorganized the city’s defenses. He also served as a diplomat and spent time observing the actions of other Italian rulers.
Machiavelli drew on his experiences in a famous book called The Prince. The book was a frank account of how politics and government really worked. Machiavelli advised rulers to make their states strong by doing what worked best, rather than by being good or moral. He said that they should even lie if it helped them to rule. In his view, the end, or purpose, justified the means (the actions taken to achieve a certain purpose). Rulers, he wrote, should be feared rather than loved.
The Prince seems to contradict humanist ideals about people’s goodness. Its cold realism shocked many readers. Yet in other ways the book shows the influence of humanist ideas. It was the product of one individual’s careful observation and thinking. It was concerned with how things really worked in the world. It also separated ideas about government from religion. In this respect, The Prince was a very modern work. (Caption)
Florins were the most valuable coins in all of Europe during the Renaissance. (Caption)
The Procession of the Magi is a fresco from one of the Medici family’s palaces in Florence. Page 331
29.9 Florentine Commerce and Trade
As you have learned, one reason that Florence became a cultural center was the wealth that trade and commerce brought to the city. Let’s conclude our visit to Renaissance Florence with a look at this part of the city’s life.
The economy of Florence was unusually flexible. Its first great industry was woolen-cloth making, but people often worked in several kinds of business. The owner of a cloth factory might also deal in banking and real estate. A grain dealer might also be a lawyer. People often belonged to several of Florence’s guilds at once.
The shift to a money economy during the Renaissance helped create a thriving banking industry in Florence. The Medicis, for example, started out as merchants and moneylenders. Over time, Florence became Europe’s banking hub. The Medicis became one of the wealthiest families in Italy, and Florence became richer than the largest kingdoms in Europe. Popes and kings borrowed money from its 80 banks.
There were two market centers in the city. At the Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), people bought everyday items like vegetables, fruits, bread, fish, meat, medicine, and shoes. The Mercato Vecchio was crowded, noisy, and smelly. Still, people from all over Europe came there to buy and sell goods.
The Mercato Nuovo (New Market) was built in the mid 1500s as a center for the cloth and banking industries. City officials banned food and weapons from this new market. They wanted it to be clean and orderly as a sign that commerce was highly regarded in Florence.
The Mercato Nuovo became one of the largest financial marketplaces in Europe. People traveled from far and wide to get loans or to convert their money into florins, which could be used anywhere in Europe. 29.10 Chapter Summary
In this chapter, you visited Florence to learn about Renaissance advances in a number of fields. You saw how humanism influenced artists and thinkers like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. You also learned about Machiavelli’s political ideas and Florentine trade and commerce.
In the next chapter, you will learn how Renaissance ideas spread from Italy across Europe. Then you will meet 10 leading figures of the Renaissance—people who changed the world with their ideas. (Caption)
Florence’s Mercato Nuovo (New Market) was much cleaner and nicer than the city’s Mercato Vecchio (Old Market). The Mercato Nuovo represented Florence’s high status in Europe as a center of commerce. Page 333
Leading Figures of the Renaissance (Caption)
Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer painted this self-portrait at the age of 26. 30.1 Introduction
In the last chapter, you visited Florence to explore some of the major advances of the Renaissance. Now you will learn how Renaissance ideas spread from Italy across Europe. Then you will study the lives and work of 10 leading figures of the Renaissance.
From the 14th through the 16th centuries, Europe crackled with energy. Trade and commerce boomed. Cities grew. Artists and writers experimented with their crafts and created wonderful works of art and literature. New ways of thinking led to inventions and scientific discoveries. Rulers and wealthy patrons supported the work of artists, scientists, and explorers.
Why was there so much creative energy during the Renaissance? One reason was the Renaissance ideal that people should be educated in many areas. People who studied art or music, for example, were also interested in science. To this day we still use the phrase “Renaissance person” to describe someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in many fields.
You have already met the best example of this Renaissance ideal: Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo trained as a painter, but he was also a scientist, engineer, musician, and architect. He designed fortifications, waterways, and machines. He studied and drew plants, animals, and people. In his notebooks he sketched ideas for inventions that were far ahead of his time.
Leonardo is one of the 10 Renaissance artists, scientists, monarchs, and writers you will study in this chapter. First, though, let’s look at how the Renaissance spread throughout Europe from its birthplace in Italy. (Caption)
Use a bust and pedestal as a graphic organizer to help you remember what you learn about leading figures of the Renaissance. Page 334
30.2 The Renaissance Spreads Through Europe
As you have learned, the Renaissance began in Italy. From there it spread to France, Germany, Flanders (modern-day Belgium), Holland, England, and Spain.
Renaissance ideas were spread through trade, travel, and education. Italy was the gateway to Europe for much of the trade from Asia, Africa, and the Greek-speaking cities of the east. Traders moved through Italy to the rest of Europe, bringing a rich flow of new ideas along with their goods.
Visitors to Italy also helped spread Renaissance ideas. People from all over Europe traveled to Italy to learn as well as to trade. Scholars went to study humanism. Artists studied Italian painting and sculpture to learn new styles and techniques.
When these travelers returned home, many of them founded art schools and universities. Artists taught others what they had learned in Italy. Scholars began to teach the new ideas of experimentation and logical thinking.
The spread of ideas was made even easier by the invention of the printing press. This machine presses inked type or plates onto paper to create many copies of a work. Recall from your study of China that the Chinese had learned to make paper and to print using wooden blocks. Gradually, knowledge of papermaking and examples of Chinese printing blocks reached Europe.
In about 1450, a German named Johannes Gutenberg dramatically improved on existing printing methods. He invented a printing press that used movable type—characters that could be rearranged and used over again on other printing jobs. Unlike the Chinese, who used wooden blocks for printing, Gutenberg cast his type in metal.
Before Gutenberg’s invention, most books were written and copied by hand. It could take four or five months to copy a 200-page book. The new press could produce 300 pages in a single day. As a result, books and short works called pamphlets could be made much more quickly and cheaply.
The number of printers in Europe soon increased rapidly. People used printed matter to spread new ideas, discoveries, and inventions. And since printed material was more widely available, more people learned to read.
As new ideas spread, people in more countries were swept up in the spirit of the Renaissance. Let’s look now at 10 leading Renaissance figures and their accomplishments. (Caption)
The Renaissance spread from Italy throughout Europe. In Flanders, an early painter of the northern Renaissance was Jan van Eyck, shown here in his studio. (Caption)
After Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, print shops such as this one created books and pamphlets quickly and easily. Page 335
30.3 Michelangelo, Italian Sculptor and Painter
You met Michelangelo (1475– 1564) in Chapter 29. Michelangelo was born in a small village near Florence. He grew up to become one of the greatest painters and sculptors in history.
Personality and Training Historians say that Michelangelo had a difficult childhood. His mother died when he was six years old. His father was stern and demanding. Perhaps this troubled early life contributed to Michelangelo’s famously bad temper. Although he was very religious, he was known to use fierce words when he was angry. He was also intensely ambitious.
When Michelangelo was 13, he became an apprentice to a painter in Florence. At 15, he began studying under a sculptor who worked for the powerful Medici family. Michelangelo lived for a time in the Medici household. There he met many leading thinkers, artists, and writers.
Talents and Achievements Michelangelo was amazingly gifted in both sculpture and painting. His art combines ideal beauty with emotional expressiveness. To other artists, Michelangelo’s talent seemed almost godlike.
Michelangelo’s sculptures show his amazing talent for bringing life to figures carved from giant blocks of marble. When he was just 24, he carved his famous Pieta. A pieta is a depiction of Mary, the mother of Jesus, mourning over her crucified son. Michelangelo’s Pieta shows Mary tenderly holding the body of Jesus on her lap.
Two other magnificent sculptures by Michelangelo are his David and Moses. As you learned in Chapter 29, David is 17 feet tall. The statue combines great beauty with the intense look of a youth who is about to go into battle. Michelangelo’s Moses is also a strong, powerful figure. In the Bible, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God. Meanwhile his people, the Hebrews, are worshiping false gods. The expression of Michelangelo’s Moses is a mixture of compassion and anger.
Michelangelo is perhaps best known for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the pope’s