Renaissance is the revival or the rebirth of classical art, philosophy, politics, literature, learning, and architecture. The eagerness in classical learning and values in the Italians during the middle ages led to the renaissance. During the period of renaissance, new continents were discovered and explored and commerce began to expand. Many innovations were also made such as the gunpowder, paper, printing, etc. It started in Italy and spread to Europe in the fourteenth century. Renaissance in Italy attracted many people especially from Europe where artists, writers, painters, etc. sought fame using their talents. It came after a long period of dormancy where thinkers and scholars could express their knowledge in different areas. In Italy, renaissance came as a result of a feeling in the people to revive their ancient culture and the need for that culture to be reproduced. This paper will seek to address the social and cultural similarities between the Italian and Northern European Renaissance, the social and cultural differences between the arts and the cultures of the Italian Renaissance and the Northern European Renaissance. It will also seek to explain the social and cultural differences reflected in the arts using artistic examples.
Social and Cultural Similarities between the Italian and Northern European Renaissance
The Italian and the northern renaissance shared many social and cultural aspects. To begin with, the faith that the people in Europe and those in Italy believed in was the same until the coming of Martin Luther the king. In fact, the modern Europe didn’t exist in terms of Christianity during the early days of renaissance. People from Europe at that time could identify themselves as being from Christendom regardless of their actual origin. All the artists in the church were provided with one subject matter by the church. The artistes from both Europe and Italy used religious stories in their teachings and as their artistic theme (Shelly, 2000). Christian figures were also used by church artistes from both communities.
The guild was another factor that the Europe and the Italy shared during the period of renaissance. When learning craft techniques, guilds were used by the people from Italy and Europe and it produced the best results whether one was making saddles, painting or doing some curving (Shelly, 2000). The members of this group called the guild had their own standards that were to be observed by all members of the group. Any funding that the guild got belonged to all its members. History has it that the guild was stronger in Europe than it was in Italy. Printed materials were accessible to people from both Italy and Europe after 1450. The subject matter of these printed materials varied from place to place but the thought in the materials were not very different. In the fifteenth century, both the Northern Europe artistes and the Italian artistes had definite artistic centers where the artistes could perform meetings and exchange ideas. There was the belief that these artistic centers could offer them inspiration and innovation. These centers kept valuables and had rulers who acted as the leaders of the members of the artistes.
Social and Cultural Differences between the Italian and Northern European Renaissance
Some social and cultural differences also existed between the Italian and Northern European Renaissances. The grip that the people from north held the Middle Ages art and architecture was stronger than the grip that the people from Italy held the Gothic. However, it should be noted that changes were still taking place in the north although not at a first rate as they were taking place in Italy. The renaissance artistes from the north were scattered and fewer in number than those in Italy. It has been noted that renaissance began in Italy and for that matter, those who were interested in commerce ended in Italy leading to the development of many free commerce centers. The number of free commerce centers in Europe were very few because most of the merchants had spent their funds in art in Italy where renaissance began (David, 2006).
The arts that the patrons from the Northern practiced were different from the arts that were practiced in Italy. In Italy, patrons could concentrate most of their efforts on architecture, sculptures, and paintings. On the other hand, European patrons concentrated their efforts on furnishings, tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts. The social changes in both Europe and Italy were inspired by different rationales. Italians believed in humanism and to them, this is the only way that humans could acquire higher dignity. Religious reforms inspired most of the artistes from the North (Shelly, 2000). The approach given to composition by the artistes from the north was totally different from the approach given to composition by the Italians. For the Italians, scientific composition mattered most in their arts. The Italians were very keen on
anatomy, perspective, and proportion during the renaissance (John, 2001). During the renaissance, the people from the north considered how their arts looked like especially in terms of color. The climates in the two places are a bit different to favor different arts. The geophysical conditions from the north favor stained glass windows for barrier purposes. Frescoes and egg tempera are favored in Italy.
Reflection of the social and Cultural Differences in the Arts
The differences in the social and cultural differences are reflected in many different ways. For example, the art in the Northern Europe concentrates on the color more than the perspective of the sculpture. The first view of a sculpture from an individual from Italy could clearly tell that the sculpture is from Italy because of the way that it is done. The kinds of arts that was practiced in Italy was completely different from the one that was practiced in the Northern Europe. In Italy, patrons could concentrate most of their efforts on architecture, sculptures, and paintings (Chris, 2008). On the other hand, European patrons concentrated their efforts on furnishings, tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts.
In conclusion, renaissance is the revival or the rebirth of classical art, philosophy, politics, literature, learning, and architecture. It began in Italy in the fourteenth century and spread to Europe later in the century. During the renaissance in Italy, many merchants were attracted in the arts that were developed in Europe and they spent most of their funds on the arts. During the renaissance, there were some social and cultural similarities between the Italian renaissance and the Northern European renaissance. People from both Italy and Europe practiced the same faith until Martin Luther came. Religious stories and Christian figures were used by both the Italians and the people from the Northern Europe in the churches. There existed some definite artistic centers for both members during the renaissance. Also, people from Italy and those from Northern Europe belonged to a group that was referred to as the guild and members of this group benefited from any funds that the group owned. There were also some standards that members of the guild had to follow. Regardless of the similarities between these two renaissances, there also existed some differences between them. For example, the arts that the patrons from the Northern practiced were different from the arts that were practiced in Italy. In Italy, patrons could concentrate most of their efforts on architecture, sculptures, and
paintings. On the other hand, European patrons concentrated their efforts on furnishings, tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts. Also, the grip that the people from north held the Middle Ages art and architecture was stronger than the grip that the people from Italy held the Gothic.
Chris, J. (2008). Renaissance in Italy. Retrieved from 123HelpMe.com on 12-september-09.
David, T. (2006). How Northern Humanism Differed From Italian Humanism. New York; McMillan publishers, 02-06.
John, A. S. (2001). Renaissance in Italy. Oxford; Oxford University Press, 04-10.
Shelly, I. (2000). The Renaissance in Northern Europe. Retrieved from http://arthistory.about.c om/cs/arthistory10one/a/north_ren_2.htm
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