The word Renaissance means rebirth and it is the name given to a
cultural movement; (Literature, learning and the arts) which began in
Italy around 1450AD and spread to the rest of Europe by about 1600AD.
Why did the Renaissance begin?
Italy was the centre of old Roman Empire. The ruins of
the old Roman Empire were visible in almost every
Italian town e.g Colosseum.
The Italian language was based on
Latin, which was the language of the
Italy was the crossroads of trade which brought Italians into contact with
Eastern cultures and new ideas from China and Asia.
Italy had many wealthy city-states, e.g the papal states were ruled from
Rome by the Pope, Florence was ruled by the Medici family while Milan
was ruled by the Sforza family.
Italy had many Patrons of the Arts. Patrons were sponsors.
They were wealthy people who paid artists to produce works
With the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 many Greek scholars fled from
Constantinople to Italy bringing with them orginial Greek manuscripts.
Italy just happened to have a lot of
talented artists at this time.
Patrons of the arts
Cosimo de Medici
Lorenzo de Medici
Papal States in Rome
New painting techniques during the Renaissance
Perspective: Giving dept and background to a
painting - showing a 3D effect and making the
Sfumato: Shading or
blurring the outlines of
faces ect. to make paintings
more lifelike. Sfumato
Painting in oils: Renaissance artists mixed their paint with oil instead of egg white. Oil
dried slowly which allowed artists to alter things and correct errors easily.
Impasto: A method of painting which
involved applying layer upon layer of
colour which made certain features stand
Fresco: Painting onto wet plaster
Humanism: Medieval artists tended to paint
mainly religious scenes but Renaissance Artists
concentrated more on people and nature. They
also studied Anatomy- the study of the Human
Realism: Making paintings more life like and realistic.
Michelangelo was born in Caprese near Florence in 1475. He became an apprentice to the
artist Ghirlandaio and soon noticed by Lorenzo de Medici who invited him to train at his
After Lorenzo's death, Michelangelo went to Rome where he carved The Pita
- a life sized statue of the virgin Mary holding the dead christ. Michelangelo
returned to Florence in 1501 where he carved his huge statue of David - 5
metres high and carved from a block of white marble.
In 1505 Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to go to Rome to carve
statues for his tomb. In 1508 Michelangelo began painting the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. For four years he worked on frescos
which told the story of creation from the bible. He painted scenes
from the old testament - the creation, Adam and Eve, Noah ect. In
total he painted 343 scenes from the bible.
In 1536 Pope Paul III asked him to paint scenes depicting the Last Judgement on the
alter wall alter the Sistine Chapel. This huge fresco shows many Renaissance painting
techniques including: perspective, sfumato, impasto and realism.
Michelangelo was also a fine architect and was responsible for
designing a new dome for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was also a
great poet and wrote over 300 sonnets.
Michelangelo died in 1564 at 89. Michelangelo - scupter, painter,
architect and poet - ranks as one of the greatest artists of all time.
Gutenberg and The Invention of the Printing Press
Before the Renaissance, all books had to be written by
hand. Knowledge and new ideas spread slowly before
The spread of printing
The skill of printing soon spread from Germany and within a short time,
presses had been set up in Italy, France, the Netherlands and England.
William Caxton learned these new methods of
printing. When e returned to England, he set
up a printing press near Westminster Abbey.
The most famous Italian printer was Aldus Manutius
The earliest form of printing is block printing. This involved
carving letters on a wooden block to produce a single page.
Johan Gutenberg invented the printing press. The exact date of the invention of the
moveable metal type printing press is
uncertain. The Forty-Two-Line Bible was the first book printed by Gutenberg.
The invention of the printing press
encouraged the development of the cheaper
paper. Before the Renaissance manuscripts
had been written on parchment or vellum.
The paper was made from linen rags, which
was boiled into pulp.
It made large numbers of inexpensive books available throughout Europe.
While many copies of the bible and the ancient classics were
printed, books also helped the spread of new ideas. This resulted
in the rapid spread of mew learning.
Without the invention of printing, the works of great Renaissance writers
Erasmus, Cervantes and Shakespeare would not have been widely known.
Martin Luther and others used the printing press to spread new ideas on religion (the Reformation)
Vernacular Writer- William Shakespeare
England's greatest Renaissance writer was William
Shakespeare. He was born on Stratford-on-Avon on
23rd of April 1564.
In London Shakespeare became an actor and writer and writer of plays. He opened his own theatre
called the Globe. Here Shakespeare's plays were performed in the open air. These playes aooekaed to
people of all classes. The conatined a wide variety of interesting characters, from kings and queens to
fools and common rogues.
Shakespeare wrote tragedies such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet. He wrote
comedies such as the Merchant of Venice, As you like it and Twelfth Night, as well as
plays like Henry V and Richard II which are called histories (factual accounts).
Shakespeare also wrote poems, including a collection of sonnets (14 line poem). He died in 1616.