Renaissance Artists: Best of Both Worlds

“No feature of the Renaissance evokes greater admiration than it’s artistic masterpieces,” (Mckay, 421). Personally, I find greater interest in the architectural and scientific advances during the Renaissance. To explore Mckay’s statement further, I decided to take a look at the relationship between these two subjects during the Renaissance.

I ended up finding a video (here) on Fillipo Brunelleschi, a fifteenth century artist, who was the first to develop a scientifically accurate representation of a three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional area, commonly called linear perspective. In 1420, he stood in the doorway of the Cathedral of Florence, spending hours of trial and error attempting to recreate the scene that stood before him, the Florence Baptistry. With practice, he developed a method to recreate the three-dimensional building on his paper in front of him, using a mirror with a small hole. He had a hole in his painting that he would line up with the hole on the mirror. He would hold the painting to his eye, with the painting facing away from him, but facing toward the mirror. He could then look through the set of holes, and see both the reflection of his painting, and the actual Baptistry in front of him. He could then check to see if his vanishing point, distance points, horizon, orthogonal lines, and transversal lines were all true to reality. These lines specified above are shown below in this diagram.

This was truly a remarkable study, and “would have the most profound effect on the history of western art,” (Video).

Not only were discoveries in art, science, and architecture related, but some of these scientific and mathematic advances and discoveries were made by outstanding artists. Leonardo Da Vinci was an extremely well known artist, producing many works of art including pieces like the ever-famous Mona Lisa, and The Last Supper. He was also an exceptional inventor and scientist. His most notable inventions include produced plans for a flying machine, which was a completely new and unheard-of idea. Also, he created a groundbreaking bridge design that would span over 700 feet (Wikipedia Article). With my new understanding of the relationship of art, science, math, and innovation in the Renaissance, I can relate this idea back to a similar idea in ancient Greek society using my own knowledge of Greece during the Antiquity era. This similar relationship between art, science, and math in Greek culture is called the Quadrivium, which is the philosophy upon which Ancient Greeks were educated. The Quadrivium includes Geometry, Numbers, Music, and Astronomy, (Quadrivium).

Upon this connection, I noticed a change of this idea in today’s society. Yes, it is true that schools teach in all areas, but it seems like they are kept separate from each other, rather than interconnected. Here are some interesting thoughts to ponder: With budget cuts in the public school systems, it seems that art, music, and other close subjects are the first to go. Why is it that these areas of knowledge are considered supplemental and less important than math and science? If the Antiquity and the Renaissance humans were so successful with this idea of combined arts, mathematics, and science education and understanding, then why has this ideal faded over the years?

I feel as though both Brunelleschi and Da Vinci would both disagree with this approach to education. They both were so successful because they were knowledgeable in all areas of understanding. I bet that they would not have been as famous, smart, innovative, and successful as they were without the opportunity to explore all of the subjects and aspects of the world that they had access to. Is it right that arts and related subjects should be the first to go?

Works Cited

Linear Perspective: Filippo Brunelleschi’s Experiment. Smarthistory.org, 2011. Web. 4 Mar. 2012.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkNMM8uiMww>.

Various Wikipedia Contributors “Quadrivium.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia., 22, Mar. 2012. Sun. 29 Apr. 2012.

McKay, John. A history of Western society. 9th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.

Various Wikipedia Contributors “Leonardo Da Vinci.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia., 26 Feb. 2012. Sun. 4 Mar. 2012.

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2 comments

  1. ottol808

    A very simple, but informative post, Noah! You covered a lot of aspects of discoveries made during the Renaissance. I was wondering, did Brunelleschi keep on experimenting with perspectives until he found a way to draw things in linear perspective?

  2. jinny0905

    Hi Noah! I really enjoyed your post. I was interested in ‘linear perspective,’ and you had tons of information on that. Thanks !

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