Painting in our life

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Beginning about 1400, European painting flourished as never before. This era of great painting took place during the period of history called the Renaissance. The Renaissance began in Italy about 1300 and spread northward. By 1600, it had effected nearly all Europe.

One very important aspect of the Renaissance was a great revival of interest in the art and literature of ancient Rome. This revival had an enormous influence on painting. Religious subject matter remained important. But artists included elements of Roman architecture in their pictures. The Italian city of Florence and the northern Europe an region of Flanders became the major centers of painting in the early Renaissance.

Sandro Botticelli, one of the greatest Florentine masters, became the leading interpreter of Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism was a complicated religious theory that combined ancient mythology, Greek philosophy, and Christianity to explain God, beauty, and truth. Botticelli's Birth of Venus is based on a Greek myth. The myth tells how Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, was born in the sea and was blown to shore on a shell by the winds. The style and perspective of the picture do not follow the sculptural style of ancient Greece. In his attempt to express spiritual qualities, Botticelli returned to an almost medieval style. Venus' body curves in such a way that she seems much like a paper doll floating in the air. The design of the picture is more flat and decorative than most Italian art.

Leonardo da Vinci was probably the greatest artist of the 1400's. His portrait Mona Lisa and his religious scene the Last Supper rank among the most famous pictures ever painted.

Leonardo, as he is almost always called, was trained to e a painter. But he became one of the most versatile geniuses in history. His interests and achievements spread into an astonishing variety of fields, such as anatomy, astronomy, botany, and geology. Leonardo's paintings made him famous, and his more graceful approach marked the beginning of the High Renaissance Style.

Leonardo finished painting The Last Supper about 1497. He created the famous scene on a wall of the dining hall in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It shows Christ and his 12 apostles just after Jesus has announced that one of the them will betray him. Leonardo changed the traditional arrangement of the figures from a line of 13 figures to several small groups. Each apostle responds in a different way to Christ's announcement. Jesus sits in the center of the scene, apart from the other figures Leonardo's composition creates a more active and centralized design than earlier artists had achieved.

When painting The Last Supper, Leonardo rejected the fresco technique normally used for wall paintings. An artist who uses this fresco method must work quickly. But Leonardo wanted to paint slowly, revise his work, and use shadows all of which would have been impossible in fresco painting. He developed a new techniques that involved coating the wall with a compound he had created. But the compound, which was supposed to hold in place and protect it from moisture. Did not work. Soon after Leonardo completed the picture, the paint began to flake away. The Last Supper still exists, but in poor condition.

The Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa del Giacondo, the young wife of a Florentine merchant. It is often called La Gioconda. The Mona Lisa became famous because of the mysterious smile of the subject. Actually, Leonardo showed the woman's face moving into or out of a smile. He arranged her folded hands so that the figure formed a pyramid design. Leonardo's technique solved a problem that had faced earlier portrait painters. These artists had shown only the head and upper part of the body, and the picture seemed to cut off the subject at the cheat. Leonardo's placement of the hands of the Mona Lisa gave the woman a more complete, natural appearance. On the whole, Leonardo's paintings are remarkable for their delicate use of Shadow and their sense of motion.

By the early 1500's, Rome had replaced Florence as the chief center of Italian painting. The popes lived in Rome, and they spent great sums on art to make Rome the most glorious city of the Christian world. In addition, two of the greatest artists in history - Raphael and Michelangelo - worked there. The style of painting that centered in Rome

: 18/02/2007