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Art History

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Art History

| Web Museum | Web Gallery of Art | The Artchive |

I. Religious and Mythological

Up until the Renaissance, most art had to do with religion. Architecture, sculpture, music and painting all centered around the scenes from the Bible, the lives of the saints, and portraits of Madonna and the Christ Child. But this changed as the Renaissance progressed. Greek and Roman gods reappeared everywhere. Sculptures imitated those of ancient Greece. ROMEO AND JULIET and most of Shakespeare's work are full of references to the ancient gods and their myths. A good example of this transition might be to view a strong Biblical theme from the early 1400's and then take a look at one artist's version of mythological subjects painted about 75 years later.

A. Religious: Lorenzo Ghiberti was a sculptor whose greatest work was the bronze doors he designed and completed for the Baptistry at Florence in the first half of the 15th Century.

* Check the web sites on the bronze sculptures of Ghiberti and the Eastern Door of the Baptistry in Florence for the following questions:

1. Describe the panel of the Sacrifice of Isaac. What

Bible scene is Ghiberti portraying?

2. Describe the detail in the Creation of Adam, a panel on

the Eastern door of the Baptistry. How does it differ

from Michelangelo's depiction of the ceiling of the

Sistine Chapel?

3. Choose one other famous Biblical scene and describe

Ghiberti's interpretation of it.

B. Mythological: Now to the mythological - Botticelli painted religious scenes as well, but two of his most famous works deal with famous myths, stories which the ancient Greeks told to explain nature and the world around them. Using his Allegory of Spring or Primavera, answer the following:

1. Name a major god and a major goddess in the painting.

2. What other minor gods or goddesses appear in the


3. This painting is considered an allegory as its title

suggests. What story might it be explaining?

4. Viewing Botticelli's Birth of Venus and reading the

text, answer the following:

a. Describe the scene, explaining the myth behind it.

b. Why do you think it was so important to have a

Venus of such grace and beauty?

c. According to the text, what imperfections are there

in Botticelli's model of Venus.

II. The Davids

Compare Donatello's and Michelangelo's Davids. How are they different?

After consulting these web sites, answer the questions that follow.

* Information on Michelangelo's David

* Donatello: Biographical information

A. Why is Donatello's David so "innovative" for its time?

B. Compare the two David's

1. height

2. composition (What is each made of?)

3. stance (What attitude does each statue convey to the


C. Where are the two statues today?

III. High Renaissance

During the High Renaissance three brilliant artists emerged: Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Raphael (Raffaelo Sanzio).

A. Leonardo DaVinci

* View the web site on the Mona Lisa for the following questions:

1. Why was Leonardo DaVinci called the original

Renaissance man?

2. Why is DaVinci's Mona Lisa so famous as work

of art?

3. Why is the painting surrounded by mystery?

4. What technique does Leonardo use for the Mona


5. Where is the Mona Lisa today?

* View the web site on The Last Supper for the following questions:

1. What method did Leonardo use to paint The Last

Supper? Explain.

2. Explain why this painting is so important to the idea

of perspective in art.

3. How does Leonardo convey the tension of what

Christ has just told the Apostles?

4. Compare this painting to Ghirlandaio's Last Supper.

B. Michelangelo Buonarroti

* View the web site on Michelangelo for the following questions:

1. We have already seen Michelangelo's David when

we looked at it in comparison to Donatello's. One



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