LEARNING, Western Civilization

Renaissance Art Evaluation

The Moneylender and His Wife by Quentin Matsys


This image shows a man who is a moneylender who appears to be counting coins at a table. In one hand he holds a balance to weigh his coins. Beside him is his wife who is looking on with a book open in front of her. They seem to be people of middle class stature because of their simple dress. Behind them stands a shelf which holds some books, an apple, a plate, an oil jar, and some other items. Beside the shelf is a door which is open slightly.

This image demonstrates these characteristics of Renaissance art: (1) Renaissance Art stresses proportion, balance, and harmony. In The Moneylender and His Wife, Massys made sure all of his lines were balanced and in equal proportion with one another. The shelves in the background are straight and match evenly with the door to the right. Everything blends in harmoniously. (2) Renaissance Art figures began to look 2-dimensional and alive. The figures used in The Moneylender and His Wife look very much alive. Instead of looking like flat drawings against their background, the figures look as if they have depth and thickness to them. (3) Renaissance Art depicted scenes from everyday life. Most likely, counting coins was a common thing for a moneylender to do, and this image captures a depiction of how a moneylender would count and weigh his coins.

I think this image was very well done. Massys gave his figures color and expression in their faces. They are both sitting equally at the table and the entire image has a 2-dimensional effect. The clothes that the figures are wearing and the wall space behind them both accurately give a shadow effect.

Bacchus and Ariadne by Tiziano Vecellio (Titian)


This image shows what happened after the Greek king Theseus abandoned Ariadne. The full story is that Theseus promised to marry Ariadne if she helped him defeat the Minotaur and come out of the labyrinth, that her father had built, alive. Ariadne did help Theseus, but he later abandoned her on a island while they were escaping. Later, the god Bacchus heard her crying and came to her rescue. There, he fell in love with her, married her, and Ariadne became a goddess. I think that this image shows Ariadne on the island with Bacchus coming to her rescue. The other people who are shown may represent Theseus and some of the other captives.

This image demonstrates these characteristics of Renaissance art: (1) Renaissance Art envisioned human beings in heroic fashion. Bacchus and Ariadne shows Bacchus as a hero because he is coming to the rescue of the forsaken Ariadne who was left on an island. (2) Renaissance Art began experimenting with making 3-dimensional figures. I think that Tiziano in this image was trying to make his figures look more alive instead of  flat objects, and I think he succeeded in doing so. (3) Renaissance Art reproduced nature. Bacchus and Ariadne is a great reproduction of a nature scene that Tiziano either saw or imagined. Whatever the case, the sky, clouds, trees, and the ground itself all look very realistic.

I also found this image to be excellently done. The people are very much alive. Their shadows seem to dance on the ground. The animals have been drawn realistically. I think that the nature scene in this image is one of the most stunning and accurately drawn from the Renaissance Age. The earth does not just end suddenly behind the figures, but stretches on and on into the background until the mountains are fading into the sky.

Adoration of the Magi by Sandro Botticelli


This image shows the three wise men at the birth of Jesus the Christ. Jesus’ mother, Mary, is seen in the center holding the Baby on her knees. Along with the three wise men, who I believe are kneeling on the left, is an entire section of other people. Some are kneeling, others bowing, and still others standing. Some of the people appear to be old and some are young, but they all seem to have come to worship the Baby Jesus.

This image demonstrates these characteristics of Renaissance art: (1) Renaissance Art expresses spiritual aspiration. Botticelli’s rendering of the birth of Jesus the Christ is a wonderful example of man’s desire to connect with and imagine spiritual things. (2) The subject matter of Renaissance Art was overwhelmingly religious. Along with da Vinci’s The Last Supper and many of Michelangelo’s religious works, like the statue of David and The Pietà, Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi is a great piece to add to the long list of religious paintings of the Renaissance Age. I think it is one of the best. (3) Renaissance Art was not produced for an open market but for patrons. This artwork was done by Botticelli for a banker of Italy called Gaspare di Zanobi del Lama. The banker wanted it done as a piece to put in his chapel, and it is said that some of his family members are depicted in this painting.

I really like this image because like Tiziano’s Bacchus and Ariadne, the nature scenery is awesome and it is painted very realistically. Careful detail was placed into each one of the people, as well as the different items in the image, including the stone buildings. I did find this image interesting also because the stable where Mary and Jesus are does not look like a traditional stable and the sky is also very light. Most images that show the Magi worshiping Jesus take place at night, but there is a possibility that the Magi came during the day.

Isaac Sends Esau to Hunt by Lorenzo Ghiberti


This is not a painting with lots of color, but a sculpture done in bronze. In the center, Isaac is shown talking to Esau and sending him out to do some hunting. Isaac may have been giving him a blessing to be successful in his endeavor. Beside Esau, his hunting dogs are shown and in the background, is another shot of Esau leaving to do his hunting. To the left, are a group of women talking. I think that Esau’s mother, Rebecca, may have been in this group of women.

This image demonstrates these characteristics of Renaissance art: (1) Renaissance Art depicted scenes from Christianity and Greek and Roman mythology, as well as everyday life. This image is a scene depicted from Christianity which tells part of the biblical story of the brothers Jacob and Esau. (2) Renaissance Art began experimenting with making 3-dimensional figures. Ghiberti’s image is another excellent art example of 3-dimensional figures. While things in 3-D are quite the rage now, especially, with movies; back then, making art appear in realistic 3-D was quite an achievement and something that artists were experimenting with everyday. Ghiberti did a great job in his 3-D experiment. (3) Renaissance artists thought of art as a means of expression rather than a craft. No one knows exactly how the scene was when Isaac sent Esau out to hunt, but Ghiberti was probably not trying to please any certain person who saw the image, but was expressing how he thought the scene must have been in his imagination.

I think the sculpting in this image was well done. Despite its rough spots, the figures all have depth and are of equal proportion and balance. I think that more detail could have been placed to the feet and facial expressions, but it is good how that the things in the background actually seem to get smaller and farther away as in real life.

Photo credit 1: Wikimedia / Photo credit 2: Wikimedia / Photo credit 3: Wikimedia / Photo credit 4: Wikigallery


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