The period referred to as High Renaissance art involve four decades beginning 1490 up to 1527. It pertains to the phase in which classical humanism ideals became evident in art such as sculpture, painting and literature. This period was also the time when various techniques including shading and linear perspective were fully implemented and mastered. Although Early Renaissance focused more in Florence, High Renaissance was mainly in Rome.
There were several artists who were quite significant in the High Renaissance Art. Among them were Leonardo da Vinci, who became adept in the sfumato and oil painting, Raphael Sanzio, a Parma artist who popularized altarpiece panel paintings, Sandro Botticelli, an esteemed painter, Michelangelo, a renowned fresco artist and sculptor, and William Shakespeare, an English poet, playwright, and actor, also widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.
There were also provincial artists who were notable during the High Renaissance, and one of them was Luca Signorelli, known for the Orvieto Cathedral frescoes and Sistine Chapel murals. It was believed that this artist has become an inspiration for Michelangelo.
Works of Art During the High Renaissance
It is worth noting that there were a number of remarkable works of art that became popular during the High Renaissance period. This include Lady with an Ermine, Last Supper, Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, Sistine Madonna, School of Athens, Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, Transfiguration, Assumption of the Virgin, and Genesis Sistine Chapel frescoes. As for popular sculptures that were renowned in this era, these include David and the Pieta, by Michelangelo.
The period in art merely unfolded and developed despite political and religious tension in Italy. These conflicts impacted the sculptors and the painters during that period, as well as art critics and patrons. Some events that transpired during the High Renaissance were the the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, Magellan’s circumnavigation and exploration of the world, invasion of Italy by Charles VIII, political rivalry and conflicts in Florence, and Reformation.
Although these situations have occurred during the decades covered by the High Renaissance period, there remained an influx on visual arts in Italy. Moreover, it served as the defining moment in the history of art, and this has set the standards for sculpture and painting for years to come.
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the primary figures of High Renaissance, aimed to master the different aspects involved in pictorial art such as anatomy, characterization, linear, lighting, perspective and foreshortening. He also made use of oil paint as his primary media, and this allowed him to create a dramatic effect in his artworks such as in his infamous masterpiece the Mona Lisa. Other works of art by da Vinci that displayed the artist’s impeccable skills include The Last Supper and the Vitruvian Man.
As for Michelangelo, he was able to demonstrate his techniques in sculpting by creating enormous statues such as the Pieta and David. He also studied the human anatomy, and this allowed him to create a spectacular masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, when he was commissioned by Pope Julius II.
Another significant painter during that period was Raphael, and he was more adept in portraits and lifelike images. His famous works included the different portrayals of the Madonna and Christ, as well as portraits of Pope Leo X and Pope Julius II.
Raphael was another influential figure in the High Renaissance, in Northern Italy. His renowned works included paintings of The School of Athens, Sistine Madonna, The Transfiguration, and a few others. Later on in the Renaissance Period, El Greco contributed some remarkable masterpieces such as The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, The Opening of the Fifth Seal and the View of Toledo.
In England, the sixteenth century marked the beginning of the English Renaissance with the work of writers William Shakespeare and a small band of contemporary Renaissance figures. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, and these are regarded as some of the best work ever produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.