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Renaissance Art – Characteristics, Definition & Style

If you are an art enthusiast, when you see a painting or research about a work;

“This masterpiece from the Renaissance Period.”

“This masterpiece from the High Renaissance period.”

You will see sentence entries such as. You would probably think about what characteristics that work was considered a Renaissance period work. In this article, we are talking about the Characteristics of Renaissance Art in order to answer your thoughts.



Characteristics of Renaissance Art


Renaissance Period

Middle Ages age was a period when Europe lived under church pressure for centuries.

Europe, under the intense influence of the church, ignored the understanding of art that the Greeks and Romans carried.

The fact that the Greeks and Romans had pagan beliefs undoubtedly had a great effect on this. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Church raised the spiritual, raised the sensual, and ignored the human.

Later, in the first half of the 14th century, the Italian poet and Latin teacher Francesco Petrarch, who is considered the greatest scholar of his period, attempted to melt the Christian thought of the writings and the thought coming from the Greeks and Romans, and these efforts were successful.

Thus, the pagan religion, which was despised by Europe, began to gain support again. With the effect of this thought, the center of attention started to shift from God to man. The change of this center caused the emergence of a brand new concept for Europe at that time.




The Renaissance, also the rebirth period, started with humanism.

Of course, the Renaissance could not have happened without the people of the Renaissance. If we need to describe the people of the Renaissance, we can give a definition of people who are qualified to be considered experts in many subjects.

For example Filippo Brunelleschi.

Filippo Brunelleschi was considered a jeweler, architect, engineer, sculptor, and expert in mathematics. The fact that he was closely interested in so many subjects had a huge impact on the advancement of art in the Renaissance period.

He started with a horizontal line and set a vanishing point and added lines that converge at that point. Now he could depict figures that seem like three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface and cast magic.

Filippo Brunelleschi invented the perspective.

One of Filippo Brunelleschi’s greatest influences on the Renaissance period is a dome.

Dome of the Florence Cathedral (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore).


Renaissance Art

Brunelleschi’s Dome of Florence Cathedral


The dome of the cathedral was so different that Florentines thought it was crazy. Brunelleschi built it without using a rest belt. The dome was full of ancient Roman influences. Sixteen years after the dome was finished, it attained the status of a unique artifact. Now Brunelleschi was seen as a genius, not as a madman.


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Donatello was also a Renaissance man. Donatello was a jeweler just like Brunelleschi, but his highlight was undoubtedly to be a sculptor, not a gold trader.

Donatello used the Roman and Greek-style in his sculptures. The statue representing David by Donatello was the first free-standing bronze statue. With the techniques he used, he made the statue look deeper.


Renaissance Art

David by Donatello | Renaissance Art


Perhaps if it were not Michelangelo who came later, Donatello could be called the greatest sculptor of the Renaissance period. But Michelangelo carried his sculpture to such a place during the Renaissance that it was not possible to approach his art.

Michelangelo brought the world to the High Renaissance by including Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Perhaps no one in the world deserves the term “Renaissance Man” more than Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci was a talented painter, sculptor, scientist, even military engineer. If you examine his notes, you will understand better what we mean.

Of course, we cannot ignore the Northern Renaissance. Behind the Alps in the north of Italy, the Netherlands has become the country closest to Italy in terms of art, receiving its share from this rising Renaissance influence in Italy.

Albrecht Dürer was the most important representative of the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance. In addition to the Renaissance features experienced in Italy, he was included in the art with features such as the attention to detail unique to the Dutch.

We think it will be enough for us to sort out some of the works put forward during the Renaissance to show what a great art period it was.


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Here are some of the most important and famous paintings of the Renaissance.


Renaissance Art

The Birth of Venus, c.1485 By Sandro Botticelli | Renaissance Art



  • Lamentation


Sandro Botticelli

  • The Birth of Venus



  • The Battle of San Romano


Renaissance Art

The Battle of San Romano, 1432 by Uccello


In the period that can be considered as the High Renaissance, there are names that we are all familiar with in some way.

In the middle ages, the sculpture is dependent on architecture. But in the Renaissance period, the sculpture appears as works independent of architecture. The first major representatives of the statue during the Renaissance are Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello.




  • Equestrian statue of Gattamelata
  • David (This statue is the first nude statue made after Ancient Greek and Roman art.)



Leonardo da Vinci

  • Virgin Of The Rocks, 1486
  • The Last Supper, 1498


The Last Supper, 1498 by Leonardo da Vinci |  Santa Maria delle Grazie, Italy


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Renaissance Art

The Last Supper, 1498 by Leonardo da Vinci |The Last Supper, made in 1495-1498 by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most famous paintings in the fresco. It depicts the scene in which Jesus tells his twelve apostles that one of them will betray him.


  • La Gioconda (Mona Lisa), 1506    


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  • Pietà (The mercy. It is the only work that has Michelangelo’s signature.)


Pietà, 1498-1499 by Michelangelo


  • The statue of Moses
  • Sistine Chapel ceiling



Raffaello Sanzio

  • Stanza della Segnatura (The Athens School, his most famous work, adorns one of the walls of this hall.)


The Athens School, 1508-1511 by Raffaello Sanzio | Stanza della Segnatura


  • Lo Sposalizio



Jan van Eyck




  • Bacchus and Ariadne


Renaissance Art

Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-1523 by Tiziano



Characteristics of Renaissance Art


The Role of Linear Perspective in Shaping the Renaissance

Since the 15th century, the third dimension in the art of painting begins to be applied thanks to the understanding of perspective. Two-dimensional dull, voluminous pictures were replaced by three-dimensional pictures. The application of perspective in the pictures made it possible to use landscape pictures in the background.


The Renaissance Concept of Place

In medieval painting, the figures looked sloppy and were portrayed in ambiguous spaces. With Renaissance painting, places have become realistic or real places. Nature studies and anatomy are involved, so landscapes begin to come into the picture.


The Renaissance Concept of Topic

Before the Renaissance, in medieval art, which was under the rule of the church, painting was used as a tool for promoting religion.

With the revival of the thoughts put forward in the Ancient Greek and Roman periods in the Renaissance, with the change in the thinking system, the artists turned to the world visible in their paintings and to human beings sensually.

Although the artist could not completely escape the influence of the church, he began to determine the subject of art by using his relatively free will.


Renaissance Composition and Painting Techniques

  • Different layers have been formed in Renaissance painting thanks to perspective.
  • Figures have started to take place in groups in the works.
  • Different trials are made in terms of the use of light.
  • In the figures, the ideal beauty that should be for the human being is at the forefront.


Colors in Renaissance Art

  • Canvas is now the main material for painting art.
  • The dull and dark colors used in the medieval period were abandoned, and instead of dark colors, real colors from nature were used.
  • The emergence of oil paint has led to the emergence of different layers in coloring.


How do we know that work belongs to the Renaissance period?

In the work of art you are examining;

  • Serenity
  • A feeling of infinity
  • Relatively stable
  • Calm and noble figures
  • Figures standing apart from you looking at you at a distance
  • If the figures in the picture or the depicted figure in the statue are in ideal condition
  • Linear body shapes

If there is, it probably works from the Renaissance period.


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