Religion and the Renaissance

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Religion is not easy to define. Many people have their own definitions of religion based on how they perform their religious beliefs. Religion can be a specific underlying set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or faith community. In the dictionaries religion is defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” The Florence Cathedral depicts religion through the artifacts inside that have a religious history.

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Meanwhile Michelangelo’s David depicts religion through a statue that was sculpted to depict a biblical scene between David and Goliath. Lastly Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper which depicts a scene with Jesus having his last supper with or final meal with his Apostles which is shown through a detailed painting. All three artworks have significant ways of depicting religion through them while the artists express their faith and belief within their masterpieces.

On the 9 September 1296 was when the Florence Cathedral broke ground by Brunelleschi and finished by the year 1436. A design by Arnolfo di Cambio with a Gothic style and a dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The dome is the largest brick dome ever constructed. Over 140 years is what it took to complete the structure and the people of Florence came together to help complete the Cathedral. This astonishing Renaissance sculpture was constructed by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504 and standing in at a towering 17.0 ft in height and weighing in at 6 tons. A marble statue illustrating the Biblical hero David being represented as a standing nude male.

The city of Florence saw themselves as surrounded by powerful rival states and saw themselves as the underdog, or little guy, just like David in the story of David and Goliath. Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissance sculptures. The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo began work on The Last Supper in 1495 and completed it in 1498 and it measures 460 cm × 880 cm and covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is one of the world’s most recognizable paintings.

The Florence Cathedral was built on top of a small church called the Santa Reparata. Inside you can access the underground museum where you can see the artifacts that were discovered and learn about the cultural and religious history. The interior and exterior has many religious art work from paintings, murals and stained glass windows to carvings on the Cathedral itself. The Cathedral has a gothic look to it which is very common in Italy with a lot of their churches. Michelangelo chose to carve his stunning, vigorous male nude in the moments before the encounter with Goliath. Michelangelo layers on spiritual, unique ideas about a passionate servant of God filled with the power of faith.

David seems peaceful or meditative before the fight. Even though he is hopelessly outmatched by his rival, he does not doubt that God will protect him, and the statue illustrates this spiritual truth. The painting The Last Supper represents the scene of Jesus sharing his final meal with his apostles before his crucifixion. Christ’s head and arms make the shape of a triangle, suggesting the solidity and steadfastness of Christ. Specifically the painting portrays the reaction specified by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would double-cross him.

There are various reactions to the news that all twelve apostles have ranging from anger and shock. The Last Supper gives the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as “”Holy Communion”” or “”The Lord’s Supper” it is a Christian ceremony when bread and wine are consecrated and consumed. The Last Supper has three major themes that are depicted throughout the painting the first theme is Jesus’s announcement of his betrayal, Second is the tradition of the Eucharist, and finally Jesus’s farewell to his disciples.

Filippo Brunelleschi was a Renaissance architect and the Cathedral placed Florence at the heart of a new cultural age. The dome itself on the Florence Cathedral was the major link to the Renaissance in Florence. The dome on the Cathedral was known for its phenomenal construction and very inspirational to many people and known for its early Renaissance art. David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture designed in marble. The statue is a Renaissance clarification of a frequent ancient Greek theme of the standing courageous male nude. Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most acknowledge works of Renaissance sculpture a representation of strength and vigorous beauty. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is a Renaissance triumph although it is one which has battled to preserve itself and stay intact over the years.

All three artworks represent religious history in different ways wether they showed religion through painting, architecture, or sculptures they all had their own significant way of depicting religion through them. Religion is hard enough to try and define but to be able to create masterpieces of art representing religion is much more in depth.

The specifics with the detail in each piece shares amazing history in the Renaissance history. The Renaissance is defined as the resurrection of art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th–16th centuries. Renaissance art assisted the world in becoming different by influencing society, informing the world to acknowledge something revolutionary.

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Religion and the Renaissance. (2019, Jan 13). Retrieved from