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The Renaissance era, lasting from the 14th to the 17th century, was one of the most progressive time throughout human history. Having the meaning of, “rebirth” the Renaissance changed the world dramatically in multiple different ways. Prior to the world changing era, around fifty percent of the European population was killed off by the plague. Following the Middle ages and the black death, the Renaissance era flourished Europe with art, science, mathematics, architecture and sexual expression. It was a time of intellectual growth and world changing ideas. Numerous inventors, artists, and creative thinkers had a substantial amount of influence on the today world. The Renaissance resembles the domino effect. Because of the new advances that were created or discovered, the Renaissance paved the way for other possible advancement for the future.
One of the biggest contributions the Renaissance focused on is the realism in art. Thanks to the exceeding popularity of art during the Renaissance, advances were made to better the category. Depth, realism, perspective along with other techniques were greatly improved and are still used today. One of the most significant changes made towards the arts were the use of tools. “The use of canvas for painting, for instance, developed during the Renaissance; previously, painting was typically done on wood” (Allen). This particular advancement had a huge impact on the today world. Almost every paint piece is now done on a canvas. “While this rebirth occurred in many creative realms—the poetry of Dante Alighieri, the architecture of Filippo Brunelleschi, the scientific experiments of Galileo Galilei—certain works of visual art stand as the most iconic representations of the Renaissance and its principles (The Most Iconic Artists). Most of the iconic artists that are currently loved today were born during the Renaissance era. This includes artists such as, Donatello, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Agnolo Bronzino. Each artist created a distinct style of art that make them memorable today. For instance, Michelangelo is mostly known for his sculptures even though he also has a few painted pieces.
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Michelangelo’s detailing in his nude sculptures is what made his art grow to be as popular as it is today. His 14-foot-tall marble sculpture, the biblical hero David, is said to be, “one of the greatest masterpieces ever created by mankind” (Michelangelo’s David). Although Michelangelo’s David is a big part of the art community, one of his fresco painting is definitely his most popular artistic piece. His Creation of Adam displays the biblical creation of life in which God gives life to the first man, Adam. The almost but never touching hands of Adam and God has taken such a large part of pop culture today. It has become one of the most iconic images throughout humanity. The image has been countlessly reproduced in clothing, furniture, phone cases etc. Just on Amazon alone — one of the largest online retail companies — over one thousand research results are shown for items that are eligible to be bought with an identical image of the original Creation of Adam.
Just like how Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam has a huge influence on the pop cultural today, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa also has the same effects. Although painted in 1503, the Mona Lisa is arguably still one of the most famous paintings. The image portrays a young female woman positioned waist up. The most notable detailing of the painting is her smile. The New York Times write, “First she is smiling. Then the smile fades. A moment later the smile returns only to disappear again.” The secret behind the the Mona Lisa’s smile is a painting technique that was created by no other than Da Vinci called sfumato. “During the Renaissance, oil painting underwent radical changes as artists learned to manipulate the new theories of linear perspective to create ever greater depth of space and lifelike images. Da Vinci himself described the sfumato technique as “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the picture plane (Hulsey and Trusty). This technique is is used when artist blur clear harsh lines by using other colors to deliver a smoother image. This technique has been since then used in numerous paintings including, Boy With an Arrow by Giorgione and Flora by Francesco Melzi. Another popular technique that was created by DaVinci is called the Chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro means to, “light and shadow” from the Italian translation. Da Vinci used this method to transform his artwork from 2D to 3D by creating illusions using light and shadows in his artwork. One of the most notable artist who used the Chiaroscuro technique was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
This method is still wildly popular today with many artists using his technique to give a dimensional effect to their artwork.
Besides the immense effect that the Renaissance had on the arts, it also made huge advancements in science. The Renaissance was the start of a new age of science. The renaissance caused people to have a more scientific view of the world. Multiple scientists such as Galileo Galilei, Johannes Gutenberg, and Isaac Newton made significant discoveries that eventually evolved the world. “We started to break science into disciplines, and medicine, astronomy, natural science, physics and many other fields took on forms that are recognizable today” (Shuttleworth). Multiple discoveries and inventions were founded and they became a foundation of any further advancements. Inventions such as the printing press and the thermometer that were furtherly developed during the Renaissance era, are still used in the modern world.
By the 1500s, the printing press was used throughout Europe. Although originally created in China, Johannes Gutenberg perfected the the machine and expanded its use. “The printing press is a device that allows for the mass production of uniform printed matter, mainly text in the form of books, pamphlets and newspapers” (History). Before the printing press, every known document that had to be replicated was handwritten. Due to everything being handwritten, books were extremely expensive and lower classes were not able to purchase them. The printing press allowed mass production of books which dropped the costs of them. “Gutenberg’s printing press meant more access to information, more dissent, more informed discussion and more widespread criticism of authorities” (Kennedy). The distribution of ideas were easier to spread by the use of copying and by 1605 the first newspaper appeared and was distributed throughout Strasbourg. “Newspapers appeared all across Europe, formalizing the printing press’ contribution to the growth of literacy, education, and the far-reaching availability of uniform information for ordinary people” (History). Due to the evolution of the printing press, more people access to information that they never had and also had a hand in creating newspapers that are still around today.
Although the printing press was a huge milestone for humanity, one of the most significant contributions to science was discovered by Nicolaus Copernicus in the field of astronomy. Known as the “Copernican Revolution” Copernicus theorized and created a system in which the sun was at the center of the universe, rather than the Earth. “While he still had the planets moving in patterns of circles rather than ellipses, he postulated that these circles had no one center. He said that the center of the Earth is not the center of the universe, but is the center of gravity and the lunar sphere” (The Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution). Because of Copernicus’s discovery we are now aware of Earth’s true placements and this allows scientists today to discover and learn more about the universe that we live in. Copernicus’s discovery set a scientific revolution that lead other scientists to add more to this information. In a way, Copernicus’s heliocentrism system is the foundation for modern astronomy.”
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