Byzantine Through Reniassance

Art has evolved over the centuries, As aspect of society continuously change artist most find a way to incorporate those needs into art. The art within Byzantine through the High Renaissance period continued to evolve in order to fit religious, political, and social needs of society of the time period.

Between 527 and 726 a.d. Byzantine art emerged as a recognizable and distinctive style. The art of this period left behind the uncertainties and hesitations of the Early Christian artistic development. Although the period maintain its use of Late Antique traditions, it expressed an new independence and power of invention. The Ivory panel of Justinian as world Conqueror exemplifies the traditions of Byzantine art. The artists rejection of classical sculpture and the spatial ambiguities from the figures striking beauty characterized Byzantine art for centuries.

The Hagia Sophia, the church of Holy Wisdom, is the most important monument of early Byzantine art in Constantinople.Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus designed and built the church for Justinian between 532 and 537. This monument in particular mixed Roman, Christian, and eastern influences in the art of Byzantium. In the exterior view, the great dome overshadows the structure, but the buildings external aspects changed from orginal appearrance. The plain and unpretentious exterior exemplify the great architecture of the Byzantine period.
Between the dying Roman Empire's of Christianity as its official religion and the rebirth of interest in classical antiquity as the Dark Ages. This time was identified as the Middle Ages or Medieval period. The art of the warrior lords emphasized the different types of art of the many cultures that influence the medieval art style. The most relevant piece that displays these interest was the Merovingian looped fibula, a decorative pin favored by the Romans.

The term “Romanesque” was applied to describe the European Architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries. Romanesque architecture was varied and didn’t always stick to the architectural aspects of previous periods. It can sometimes be compared to the Romance languages of Europe which vary regionally but have a common background in Latin. The Sant’ Ambrogio in Milan Italy exemplifies the Romanesque style within Germany and Lombardy.

In the 13th and 12th centuries the Gothic Style was all the rage in Europe, especially north of the Alps. The Gothic style first appeared in northern France around 1140. Although it was an internationally acclaimed style, Gothic art was a regional phenomenon. During the Gothic period European society took on major changes. The focus of both education and religion shifted from monasteries in the countryside and pilgrimage churches in order to expand secular cities with great cathedrals reaching to the sky. The Chartres Cathedral located in Chartres France is a fine example of the Gothic style.
The art of the Renaissance Period was influenced by both the classical world of art and Byzantine. This period rejected the elements of medieval art, which emphasized the growth of the natural form. The mixture of both Italian and Byzantine style became known as Italo-Byzantine or maniera greca. A great example of the Italo-Byzantine style is Bonaventura Berlinghieri’s panel from the Saint Francis Altarpiece. The frontal view of the figures poses, prominent halos, and look of modeling indicates Berlinghieri’s use of the Byzantine style.

There are two main motives for the patronage of art- prestige and pleasure. The Patronage became firmly industrialized from the 12th and throughout the 15th century in Europe. It was the key to social status in Europe and was commonly used by the church. Rulers, nobles, and the wealthy used patronage to endorse political ambitions, social positions, and authority. They also commissioned personal work for their private viewing or religious use. Giotto Di Bondone’s work in the Arena Chapel shows just how important patronage was in the creation of religious art. The interior of the Arena Chapel, commissioned by Enrico Scrovengi, was intended for the families’ private use. The entire building provided as much flat surface as possible for Giotto to create an impressive and complete pictorial cycle of the Christian Redemption.

Northern Europe and Spain was the center of the arts during the 15th century. Here is where we find the establishment of politics and the development of a new style in the arts. In this period we see the transition from religious art to artist depicting the wealthy and nobles. Most were depicted as symbolic figures throughout the piece. In Robert Campin’s Merode altarpiece the Inghelbrechts, middle class couple, appears in a closed garden, symbolic of Mary’s purity.

During The 15th century Flemish art integrated both secular power and wealth as seen in Jan Van Eyck’s Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride. This painting, as well as other paintings by Van Eyck, references both the secular and religious aspects in 15th century painting.

Later in the 15th Century we see the transition from the Classical Aspects of the Early Renaissance into a more experimental style scene in the High Renaissance. The Art of the High Renaissance and Mannerist period departed from the balance and harmonious structure of the compositions in the Early Renaissance as seen in Jacopo Da Pontormo’s Descent from the Cross. Jacopo Da Pontormo enhanced the paintings uncertainty with the curiously anxious glance the Figures cast in all directions. Athletic bending and twisting characterize most of the figures, with distortion, elongation of the limbs, and heads rendered as uniformly small and oval.

We’ve seen how at took on many forms as centuries passed from Byzantine Period into the High Renaissance. Artist took ideas from previous architectural and artistic styles and used that inspiration to create a whole new period of art. Artist maintained the basis of religion and later incorporated aspects of politics and social status in the arts. Art today still embodies the characteristic of the art of the periods talked about. The main point of this is to show that although things change in actuality they remain the same.

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride

Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
Jan Van Eyck, 1434.

Descent From the Cross

Descent From the Cross
Jacopo Da Pontormo, Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy, 1523-1528