Prominent Names in the Renaissance
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The Renaissance: The Usual Suspects Prominent Names of the Movement
Introduction • The Humanist or intellectuals of the Renaissance Age between the 14th and 15th centuries called their age an “Age of Re-birth.” • They as Petrarch believed they had emerged from a ‘Dark Age’ and restored art, letters, reason, and intellect to the world.
• They saw themselves as accomplished individuals that succeeded because of their own reasoning and intellect—not necessarily a divine intervention.
• So what is this Renaissance? What goes under the title in an outline? • Certainly there is the humanism polemic that evinces human reason above all other sophistry. • But what does humanism mean— “a love and concern for human beings.” • “Man is a dignified creature simply because God endowed him with free will, reason, and the image of Godliness (spirituality or physical appearance).
• For some renaissance thinkers, it remained a religious concept of “Faith seeking understanding.” God is omnipresent. • Machiavelli suggests that humanism is preoccupied with worldly and material human concerns—ie. Politics and sociology. To Machiavelli, this is the world—it is reality, one must deal with it—neither good nor bad—just reality.
• Humanism can mean a devotion to the humane disciplines, liberal arts and humanities(no theology).
• One of the best examples was the quarrels and contention between Michelangelo and Pope Julius II “Warrior Pope.” • The Sistine Chapel being the bone of contention; • He kept his work hidden even from the Pope— stating “when it satisfies me as an Artist.” it will be done.
• Dante is best known for the Commedia—it was actually his last work. • 1) Vita Nuova—31 love poems, treats love allegorically—it brings Dante spiritual salvation. • 2) De Vulgari Elioquentia—a masterful essay on literary theory—can it be a magnum opus in the common vernacular?
• De Monarchia—a history between Popes and Emperors—Dante upholds the notion of independent empire—or a separation of church and state • Still, The Divine Comedy is the most prolific and well known. • It is full of literary allusions that can easily escape human understanding.
• Keep in mind however, that Dante through his writings and searching found Spiritual Salvation—he found this through prose and love.
• The poem is an exploration of morality and religion and how they form and shape human character; • It suggests the power that one man and one woman can have for each other;
• But in the end it is the mysterious love of God.
• We will move chronologically: • Early period. • 1) Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)—son of a Florentine merchant.
• Early years spent in Naples; he enjoyed the Patronage of an Angevin King who resided in the French Court. • He resisted studying the Law—he pursued a career writing history and satire.
• Greatest work: Decameron— Greek for 10 days—story of young people who move to avoid the plague and tell 10 stories a piece for 10 days. • Scholarship treatises included On the Genealogy of the Gentile Gods— • along with Petrarch—wrote Commedia—the life of Dante and gave them as public lectures
• Francesco Petracco (Petrarch) (1304-1374). • The giant of the early Renaissance; studied law for 7 yrs. Considered it crass mercantilism of the mind;
• He wrote 366 poems of a woman mysteriously never truly identified—he must have shadowed her from afar—which speaks more to Petrarch than the woman.
• His Secret Book wrote after the death of his brother—is a dialogue between Petrarch and St. Augustine—where Augustine reveals all his character flaws—probably survivor’s remorse. • He found some works of Cicero and studied him—he also translated Homer into Latin. • He was friends with many of the great intellectual figures of his day—they also in turn wanted to now him—first serious work on Julius Caesar. (never finished—he died).
• He loved Books—very indicative of his character: • “Books are welcome, assiduous companions, always ready to appear in public or go back to their silent box, they can speak or be silent, they can stay at home, or make the trek to the woods … they can gossip, joke, encourage, advise, or reprimand … they can give comfort or admonish … • Said of himself … “ I am a clumsy searcher … [yet] I hold in lieu of truth … I hold nothing, know nothing, and doubt everything … • Yet, he was also a religious person—”Theology is a poem that has God for its subject.”
• Petrarch flourishes at the height of Florentine exceptionalism. • The Florentine Chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331- 1406) founded and endowed many schools; • He maintained a correspondence with many of the scholars and thinkers of his day—he patronized and attracted many scholarly figures—he said that family life and public service was more important than penance and ascetic monasticism (a Cicero ideal).
• Argued for separation of church and state; • Believed that a free republican government nourished and propagated idealism, free people and free institutions of government; • He was a ‘Civic Humanist.”
• Guarino of Verona (1374-1460) stressed a classical paradigm shift in education such as Latin and Greek; • This way common vernacular would be known from the truly scholared individuals; • Demarcation between disciplines, genres and levels of intellect.
• Guarino wanted students to not only study the classics, learn the classics, but to emulate classical behavior and values found in the classics. • He placed Rhetoric along side of logic and grammar;
• He thought that a republic of virtue could easily be created in an environment of graceful refined language.
• Lorenzo De Medici (14491492) called the “Magnificent.” • Great family of bankers and merchants—also a great awareness of patronage for the arts. • He became head of state at 21—very popular leader even with the lower classes; • Good diplomat and leader, able to maintain peace.
• He diligently and tirelessly pursued the notion of Florence to be the cultural center of Italy, which meant Europe. • He spent half th state budget on books for the Medicean Academy; • Promoted civic humanism: “ask what you can do for your country …” • Inaugurated the courtly phase of the Renaissance.
• Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464)—Latinized name to Aeneas Silvius, not that uncommon in this era; • Tuscan, son of an impoverished Nobleman;
• Studied law, but was attracted to classical studies in Florence.
• Gave up the study of Law—traveled around Europe for 20 yrs in the entourage of a wealthy Cardinal; • Wrote treatises, satires, and scurrilous tales— he was quite the Cad; • 1445-returned to Rome; 1448 a consecrated Bishop; in 1458 elected Pope; • Tried to Launch a Crusade; wrote a scathing refutation of the Quran.
• Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) the illegitimate son of a Lawyer and a Servant; • Handsome, versatile, graceful, fine singer, insatiable curiosity; • Did not have a humanist education—Latin awful and no Greek;
• 1482 went to Milan worked as an Engineer; painted portraits to make ends meet; designed stage sets and costumes; drew maps, proposed irrigation systems; created a central heating system in Sforza’s palace; etc … • 1499 Sforza fell from power, Da Vinci spent the rest of his life wandering; • Never finished a statue; about a dozen finished paintings remain from a very prolific life.
• His greatest achievements were not paintings but sketches and insight into nature, mechanics, and anatomy/physiology. • He designed, not really workable, helicopters, flying machines, tanks, rapid fire weapons; • His lasting legacy of course was the Mona Lisa
• Michelangelo Buonoratti (1475-1564) • Florentine of high birth; • Vehemently opposed to his choice of vocation;
• Was favored and a patron of Lorenzo de Medici; Greek sculpture was being uncovered greatly influenced Michelangelo—he however, surpassed the Greeks.
• The ambient political and religious turmoil influenced him—he added human drama to sculpture. • Because of the advancement of human anatomy his sculptures were very human like; very much realism in his work; • He sculpted David in 1501; most of his work was an eclectic realism of Gothic, Greek, and Christian. He also did the famous Sistine Chapel and the Tomb for Pope Julius II.