Artistic Beauty of the Renaissance (Part 1)Category: General   Sep 5th 2016  12:44PM   0

What is art? How does it relate to the common perception of beauty? Is beauty something to be observed rationally or is it something more complicated than it is often considered? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, just as art is usually left up to interpretation by its viewer. Beauty is something that we should admire and appreciate whether the object that possesses the beauty belongs to us or someone else. In art, beauty is something particularly special. For centuries it was artists, poets, and novelists who told us about the things that they considered beautiful and created a standard of beauty through their documentation of the concept.

I’ve been exploring these ideas and decided to share a few of my favorite works of art, mainly from the High to Late Renaissance. My love for the Renaissance period comes from my personal experiences of seeing each of these paintings in different parts of  Europe throughout my travels. The only piece in my collection of favorites that I haven’t seen is Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine. When I eventually make my way to Poland, there’s no doubt that the Czartoryski Museum will be first on my list of places to visit.

The Renaissance fascinates me because it is rich with high symbolic values, wisdom, mysticism, discoveries in contrast with the concept of beauty as proportion and harmony. The prolific period raised visual art to a status formerly held by poetry while creating remarkably varied works of art. Thus, no single artistic style characterizes Renaissance. Although diverse, art of this period does uniformly exhibit an unprecedented mastery, both technical and aesthetic.

I love getting lost in art, escaping from modern times for a moment to appreciate its beauty. We tend to get caught up in images from commercial television and cinema. And while I enjoy shows and movies that are meant for pure entertainment or erotic satisfaction, it’s nice to take a break and appreciate my favorite works of art.

Sandro Botticelli, Allegory of Spring c.1478 

Botticelli was the most famous of all Florentine painters to be employed by Medici. He was one of the great masters of line. He was a brilliant colorist, as evident in the Allegory of Spring. The precise meaning of this painting is still a mystery. Botticelli drew attention to the goddess of love by opening the landscape behind her to reveal a portion of the sky. Three Graces dancing in thin transparent garments. The weightless figures are elongated, creating a very sensual portrayal of Venus in springtime. Divine Beauty is diffused not only through humankind but also through nature, offering a magnetic reflection of a different kind of beauty. To me, it’s merely the perfect sunny day in paradise:-).


Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine (1485-1490)

I cannot avoid the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s work is the heart and soul of Renaissance art. There is a fascinating history of this particular painting. Besides this being one of only four female portraits painted by Leonardo, the young woman in the portrait is identified to be Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan and Leonardo’s employer (Ludovico Sforza). Cecilia was admired not just as a beautiful woman, but as a scholar, a wit and a poet. Ludovico Sforza must have been impressed with her intelligence and creativity.

Cecilia does not stare at the viewer directly. She might be lost in her thoughts, isolated by the threatening darkness around her. Leonardo also opted for the freedom of proportions and realism in his depiction of the animal. Interestingly, in September 2014, new and exciting findings added to the 500-year-old portrait’s history.

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