Renaissance architecture originated in Florence Italy in the 15th century but once the style appeared in other Italian towns, it began to make appearances in France, Russia, England, and other parts of Europe. Although it moved to other countries, the influence was less significant than in Italy.
The new style of architecture is known as the style that replaced medieval Gothic. Renaissance architects used the basic design element, order, and found a relationship between human proportions and buildings and this was a nod towards both Greek and Roman architecture. Using these proportions, the buildings became comprehensible spaces which is a distinguishing feature from the once known Gothic style.
Before the Renaissance Era, it was the Medieval Times. During the Dark Ages, famine broke out, war, and diseases. The Black Plague had spread throughout Europe killing about 60% of the continentr’s population, but because of the disease, Italy made changes in their trades and businesses and sold leather goods, cheese, and wines. The working class became wealthy due to the trade and the Italian cities became widely popular. It was the men like Leonardo Da Vinci, Leon Battista Alberti, Cola da Caprarola, Donato Bramante, and Filippo Brunelleschi that came to the ideas of proportions, order, and balance of the existing world and incorporated it into the structural, architectural world.
As mentioned, it was various men who impacted and supported the new Renaissance Era. There were issues with the economy, the current architectural buildings (Gothic), and they believed there were better ways. Renaissance means rebirth and was created because of the corruption of the Catholic Church. The old ideas of the Greek and Roman provided the people with the answers that they believed the church could not and it was considered to be the reawakening of these ideas. Renaissance reconception of architecture was the return to the classical language, which had a vocabulary of elements based on orders, and a set of rules, and within the new Renaissance way of design thinking, the mind of the designer was equally apparent, so much so that his personality could, and even should, show through in his finished work (2).
Leon Battista Albertir’s design of the church of S. Francesco, located in Rimini, was built in 1450. The church was a centrally planned and was inspired by ancient architectural philosophies, Greek and Roman. Alberti wrapped a previous building with a new wall to reconstruct a classical building utilizing arches, and a triumphal arch much like Roman Architecture. The architects, McKim, Mead, and White drew inspiration from Albertir’s classical style when building the Boston Public Library, in the nineteenth century. The Boston Public Library was planned around a central courtyard, similar to S. Francesco and the exterior of McKim, Mead, and White also drew heavily upon the Albertir’s idea heavily implementing the use of arches and vaults. The Renaissance style has been used in large cities such as San Francisco, New York, and has influenced various government buildings in Washington DC. Renaissance style and techniques used in these historic buildings can be seen in modern day buildings.
Renaissance architecture is mainly derived from both Greek and Roman architecture. Humanism is the idea that you feel like you can aspire to do anything by learning and having a good education and this was very important to all three styles. Another big part of all three styles is the interaction between Man and structures. While Greek and Roman styles had the biggest influence on the Renaissance, Gothic architecture also played a role. Renaissance designers (much like Leon Battista Alberti) wanted to move away from the previous style, however, Gothic architecture also used man-like techniques to measure out space and materials; it is where the expressions a thumbnail, at arms length, and a foot derived from. Difference is, that Gothic architecture used someone different each time and there was no exact measurement for these sayings, but the Renaissance style took those sayings and made them into something specific.
Specifically, Renaissance uses the arches, humanism, and corinthian columns that was used in both Greek and Roman architecture; there was no Renaissance building that is a copy of an ancient precedent, no painting or sculpture that looks like Roman or Greek. Details might be imitated, concepts rediscovered, but the Renaissance always generated new synthesis from the knowledge that came from study of ancient classism (1).
S. Maria della consolazione interior has a centralized square plan, with three polygonal apses and one semi circular. Each are capped by semi circles and the central square becomes a cube capped by a large interior dome. The church and the convent was built by Guiniforte Solari but was modified by Bramante in the late 15th century. Bramante enlarged the church by adding a large semi-circle apse, a cloistered a refectory, and a drum shaped come that is surrounded by columns.
Furniture from Palazzo Davanti (bedroom) has been fully preserved and well taken care of. Most renaissance furniture is made of wood (oak, walnut, or cypress). Canopy beds were used for both warming reason and privacy, but these beds along with chairs, were not considered comfortable. In the renaissance convenience was more important than practical. Davanzati bedroom is elaborate. The ceiling has exposed wood which is covered in a decorative pattern and the floor is tiles. The walls are covered in frescor’s and the overall feeling of the room is warmth. Furniture if minimal but there are the essentials, bed, dresser, baby cradle, table, and chairs. The baby cradle is also made out of wood and could be moved throughout the room (either close of further away from the fireplace or master bed). The last pieces in the bedroom are two chars, a table and a dresser. Over the dresser is some painting of a significant religious characters and it was common that bedrooms had fireplaces in the corner for the cold winter months. The table and chairs were used as a way to display and work on writing pieces and reading. During the Renaissance one could not brag about their wealth, therefore they would leave their studies out on tables as a way to demonstrate their intellect.
Medicine and astronomy were common in households. Astronomy was used for telling time and the wealthier an individual was, the more access they had to these instruments. The armillary could be used to cast the horoscope at the birth of a child and astrology provides the link between health and the heavens, and not only through the predictive power of the horoscope / A physician was trained in consulting the heavens for predicting the course of disease and determining the most propitious time for therapeutic intervention (3) As mentioned, in furniture, wood was commonly used. However, these instruments were typically made of brass, gilt brass, and more rarely, silver.
Renaissance design has influenced many pieces of architecture and interior designs since it became a style. French architect, designer, and inventor Philippe Starck is derived from Renaissance style. He focuses on how the essentials are important, the relationship between Man vs. nature, and he claims that everything should be organized to the needs of human bodys. As well as influencing specific designers as previously mentioned, the style has influenced the Boston Public Library, churches and cathedrals in large cities, Government buildings in Washington DC, and residential homes are sometimes decorated in the Renaissance style.
Furniture was commonly made out of wood. Chairs, beds, and chest would have wood carvings depicting a religious scene, and hints at its reflection on both Greek and Roman architecture. An example of a piece of furniture that is made of wood and has gilding is a
Lacquered and gilded games table, with detachable top of lobed oval outline, painted with birds and flowers, with shaped frieze containing two drawers on bold cabriole legs painted and mounted (4). Along with furniture, Rosary beads were also made out of wood and gilded gold. Brass was used for the more expensive decorative arts.
In the S. Maria della consolazione church interior on the north wall is The Last Supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The conversation that is depicted in Da Vinci’s photo is the moment right after Christ said “One of you will betray me”. Each of the 12 Apostles in the painting are depicted with different movements and expressions and therefore his painting is known as one of the masterpieces of the world and has had a great deal of influence over the figurative art style. The furniture from Palazzo Davanti bedroom does have carvings in the wood
Wood was a generally easy medium to work with and was the most common material used in Renaissance furniture. In the construction of cassones, chairs, tables, beds, corner cupboards, and game table, these walnut, cypress, and oak pieces were shaped, carved, and built into fabulous pieces that then were ornamented with gild, gold, ivory, frieze, scrolls, and more.
After getting guidance from Brunelleschi, painter Masaccio created a fresco painted called the Holy Trinity at S. Maria Novella in Florence. Brunelleschi found the way to take a three dimensional object and replicate it exactly on a two dimensional surface, convincing the illusion of space. The painting depicts God standing on a sarcophagus holding the crucified Christ while S. John and Mary are standing in front of two kneeling donors. The donors were not allowed to be in the recessed space where the biblical characters are depicted near the cross, they were purposefully painted to appear in the space of the viewer. One-point linear perspective is the technique that gives the sense that the painting receded back into space.
Renaissance art and architecture focus on proportions and symmetry, and the composition of this painting is in a pyramid shape, much like the panel of bronze doors competition Brunelleschi entered in for the Florence Baptistery.
Renaissance style is a reflection of Roman and Greek classical architecture. In the painting a coffered ceiling, barrel vaults, columns, and pilasters are depicted which were substantial in Roman architecture specifically. Using the one-point perspective technique in the coffered ceiling, creates the vanishing point which is located at the bottom of the cross. This is what causes the painting to look as though it is receding into the chapel.
Finally, at the bottom of the fresco is a skeleton in a tomb. Until recently, this part of the fresco was covered. The tomb was painted with the intentions to look as if it was three dimensional and coming at an outward projection. Above the tomb are words that have been translated to “What you are I once was; what I am, you will be”. This is a portrayal of death and that it is destined for everyone. Above the crucifiction there is a message of hope, freedom from death for believers. The complex painting is an example of a biblical story, science, and art all in one.
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