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Week 2 Early Renaissance



In the second meeting of Visual Cultures class, we introduced to the new topic about Early Renaissance. In the first session, we watched a movie, Northern Europe, Supreme Art. It talked about the transformation of lowly craft into the ultimate art. According to the movie, we can know in the 15th century, naturalism and religion play a big part shown in the artworks of artists from Northern Renaissance.

An artwork comes from this era is Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck. In that sumptuous painting of salvation from the original Sin of Adam and Eve, God the Father presides in majesty. Van Eyck rendered every figure, garment, and object with loving fidelity to appearance. He made details on it. So that, people can feel if Adam is living there – walking right off the painting.

In the next discussion session, we talked another artworks from certain artists in Renaissance era, such as: Altar Piece by Robert Campin, Man in Red Turban and Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife by Jan Van Eyck.

Over all, I interested to know more about early renaissance’s artwork: Donatello’s  sculpture. Therefore, I did research within reading books and articles related to sculpture, especially Donatello’s work. Here, I posted my writing, my thoughts of Donatello and sculpture.



Renaissance in Greece and Rome era defined that perfect human proportion reflected divines order. Human is the center of universe. That is why, in this period many artworks put human as the main subject, such as statue.

In order to make an artistic statue, artists may do sculptures in the round by curving or casting. The perfect statue would be constructed according to an all-encompassing mathematical formula. It must be through harmonic proportional and balance. Polykleitos – the sculptor of Argos in the mid-fifth BCE sought to portray the perfect man and to impose order on human movement.


Donetello’s David in Contrapposto Concepts

e0581772e049210f06acebcdf5a7fbc9Donatello, the first Renaissance sculptor who portray the nude male figure in bronze David statue. Based on the concepts of contrapposto, Donatello’s David had fulfill the classical proportions and beauty. Referencing the classical contrapposto pose in the tradition of Polyclitus’s Doryphoros, he has softened the static balance and firm stance of the traditional male figure. This softening is evident in the placement of the two hands as well as the way David’s free leg gently rests on the head of Goliath. The smooth, polished skin is set off against the rougher boots and curly locks of hair. This reference to touch is especially apparent in the detail of the feather stroking the inner thigh of David’s leg and in the detail of the way David runs his toes through the locks of Goliath beard. There is a disjunction between David’s refined and graceful pose with the apparent reverie and beauty of the facial expression and the gruesomeness of the decapitated head of Goliath at his feet. These are remarkable for its naturalism.


David as an Icon of Humanism

In fifteenth-century Florentine republican culture, David became a heroic example of the new humanist piety of civic engagement, modesty, humility, fortitude, and divine favor. He exemplified and sanctified the virtuous citizen-hero who bravely volunteered to fight for his fatherland and whose victories over much greater forces showed divine providence guiding and protecting the “little” republics. Those reasons honored him to be remembered and respected as an icon of humanism.









Kleiner, Fred. (2009). Gardner’s Art through the Ages: A Global History

Baldwin, R. (1993). Donatello; Civic Humanism and Republican Culture in Florence



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