Renaissance marks the period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of the Modern world. It represents a cultural rebirth from the 14th through the middle of the 17th centuries. Early Renaissance, mostly in Italy, bridges the art period during the fifteenth century, between the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance in Italy. It is generally known that Renaissance matured in Northen Europe later, in 16th century(Hartt 112-119). The term renaissance means rebirth and is used to mark an era of broad cultural achievement as a result of renewed interest in the classical art and ideas of Ancient Greece and Rome. The main idea of rebirth lies at the belief that through the study of the intellectual and artistic treasures of the Greco-Roman antiquity, inspired by Humanism, can be reached the artistic greatness, wisdom and enlightenment.The rediscovery of classical world radically altered the art of painting. By the year 1500, the Renaissance revived ancient forms and content. The spiritual content of painting changed - subjects from Roman history and mythology were borrowed. Devotional art of Christian orientation became classically humanized. Classical artistic principles, including harmonious proportion, realistic expression, and rational postures were emulated. During this artistic period two regions of Western Europe were particularly active: Flanders and Italy. Most of the Early Renaissance works in northern Europe were produced between 1420 and 1550.
The Renaissance patrons wanted art that showed joy in human beauty and life's pleasures. Renaissance art is more lifelike than in the art of the Middle Ages. Renaissance artists studied perspective, or the differences in the way things look when they are close to something or far away. The artists painted in a way that showed these differences. As a result, their paintings seem to have depth(Aston 90-101). An artist from Florence named Giotto was one of the first to paint in this new style. Giotto lived more than a century before the beginning of the Renaissance, but his paintings show real emotion. The bodies look solid, and the background of his paintings shows perspective. The art produced during the Renaissance would build upon Giotto's style.
Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in the village of Vinci. His name means Leonardo of Vinci. Leonardo began his career working for a master painter in Florence. By 1478, Leonardo left his master and set up his own workshop. People have been trying to guess the secret behind the smile of his Mona Lisa ever since he painted it around 1505. His Last Supper shows clearly the different feelings of Jesus and his followers(Hartt 112-119).
Leonardo's fame grew—but not just for his painting. Leonardo was truly a “Renaissance Man,” skilled in many fields. He was a scientist and an inventor as well as an artist. He made notes and drawings of everything he saw. Leonardo invented clever machines, and even designed imitation wings that he hoped would let a person fly like a bird.