The Italian Renaissance vocab Flashcards

Terms Definitions
wood inlay
Palazzo Farnese
Commissioned by Alessandro Farnese (Paul III)
Begun by Antonio da Sangallo in 1517
Cornice and upper levels of courtyard 1547-50
~The Baptistery Doors
Phillip IV motive
Jacopo Pontormo
Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita, Florence
commissioned by Ludovico di Gino Capponi
oil on panel
c. 1525-28
Vendramin Family
commissioned by Andrea Vendramin for the Palazzo Vendramin, Venice
oil on canvas
c. 1543
Rule of merchant aristocracies
(1574 - 1654)
Ilusionistic scenery
"eye of the prince" perspective
1628 - Manual for
constructing theatrical
scenery and machines
Design for cloud machine
3 ways of changing scenery: periaktoi, angled wings in front of angled wings; canvas scrolls over angled wings
x chair with slats
observation and repeatable experiments
Giorgione, completed by Titian
Sleeping Venus
commissioned perhaps by Girolamo Marcello
oil on canvas
c. 1510
A Civic Procession

Gentile Bellini’s painting The Procession of the Relic of the Holy Cross
 recounts visually the miraculous healing of a young boy due to the 
intervention of the patron saint of Venice. More than the event, the 
city itself and its urban society are glorified in the work of art.

Renaissance Society


The Renaissance was initiated in the midst of the devastation of the 
Black Death. Unlike the Middle Ages, the Renaissance placed particular 
value on the renewal of classical art forms and literature and on the 
importance of the individual. Associated with Italy more than any other 
region of Europe, the Renaissance initiated a period of dramatic change.
 The entire age can be subdivided into three phases: from 1350 to 1400 
during which discovery of ancient texts and experimentation with new art
 forms took place; 1400 to 1500 typified by political stability in the 
Italian city-states and the creation of a recognizable culture; and 1500
 to 1550 dominated by foreign invasion and the diffusion of the Italian 
Renaissance to the rest of western Europe.

The Urban Environment

Italy was distinguished from the rest of Europe by the degree of its 
urbanization. Not only were seven of the ten largest European towns 
located in the Italian peninsula, but the region also was dotted with 
numerous smaller towns as well. Surrounding each city was a rural area 
that served as a supplier of foodstuffs and as a region of recruitment 
for the urban population. The cities served as central markets for the 
produce of their agricultural hinterlands. In the aftermath of the 
plague, Italian cities were smaller than their pre-plague counterparts. 
Despite the diminution of the population, urban space was crowded with 
men, markets, animals, and agricultural products. The social 
organization of towns differed from the countryside, where social status
 was determined by one’s relationship to the land. In the city, social 
distinction was determined by occupation and membership in guilds, 
communal organizations that imposed monopolies of trade or production. 
At the top of the guild structure were wholesale merchants, bankers, and
 public administrators. Farther down the social scale were retail 
merchants and skilled craftsmen. At the bottom were those men, unskilled
 and underemployed laborers, who were not guild members. Urban society 
was typified by a huge gulf between rich and poor. In Florence, ten 
percent of the population held ninety percent of all wealth in the city.
 Such disparities were common in Renaissance cities.

Production and Consumption

Demographics shaped the change in market forces in the early 
Renaissance. Between 1350 and 1400, the plague and subsequent 
aftershocks continued to depress the population of all areas. As a 
result, the value of labor increased. In the short run, the agricultural
 laborers’ disposable wealth—that amount left after the purchase of 
necessities—went up. Simultaneously, investment in the traditional 
fashion, in land and in the cloth industry, brought diminished returns 
for wealthy capitalists in the cities. Both the poor and the rich, each 
group with greater amounts of disposable wealth, turned to the purchase 
of luxuries. Such purchases eased the psychological burden of the plague
 and aided in escaping the increasing burdens of taxation. Producers 
responded to the sudden demand for luxuries by expanding markets in 
silks, jewelry, imported foodstuffs, and art objects. In a sense, the 
culture of the Renaissance was the creation of the plague.

The Experience of Life

Life in a Renaissance city could be hard, particularly for the poor. 
Children of the poor often failed to survive childhood. For those young 
who survived, males were apprenticed and females were sent out as 
domestic servants. Children of the wealthy were more likely to survive 
past their early years. There was no standard for Renaissance families. 
Most were probably nuclear in structure, but there were examples of 
several generations—grandparents, siblings, grandchildren, and 
servants—living under a single roof. Even nuclear households often 
contained servants. Older children were dealt with as economic resources
 and utilized to increase the economic fortunes of the household. Sons 
were normally apprenticed at age ten or thereafter. Daughters’ fortunes 
were determined by the ability of the family to arrange for a dowry. 
Young women with dowries were married and entered the household of their
 husbands until such time as the new couple had sufficient wealth to 
establish a separate household. Those without dowries were hired out as 
domestic servants or entered convents. Women commonly were married at 
around age twenty to men ten or more years their seniors. Married life 
for women normally involved successive pregnancies. Only death and the 
age differential between men and women limited family size. Men married 
much later in life, after long supervision in the households of other 
males. Some males never were able to establish independent households. 
Delayed household formation may have led to sexual frustration and even 
homosexuality. Men who did successfully establish independent households
 enjoyed complete authority over those under their roofs. Death was a 
companion of the Renaissance household. Frequent outbreaks of the plague
 and lack of medical knowledge ensured annual harvests of those without 
natural defenses—often the very young and adolescents. Famine and 
starvation were less significant causes of death.

The Quality of Life

Despite the plague, the quality of life for surviving citizens of the
 Renaissance may have improved. Life spans increased for survivors as a 
result of more plentiful food supplies and more varied diets. Social and
 political cohesion also increased as citizens came to depend on a 
greater variety of social support groups. Kinship groups were 
supplemented by guilds, neighborhood organizations—either familial or 
ecclesiastical—and godparenting. The Church remained central to 
Renaissance society. The fundamental symbols of daily ritual were 
derived from ecclesiastical sources. The calendar of the Church 
continued to establish the rhythms of urban life. Even spatial 
relationships within towns were dependent on the location of individual 
churches and parish boundaries. The extent to which Renaissance citizens
 were able to express social solidarity with the city in which they 
resided can be observed in the works of art produced within the shops 
and schools of Italy. In many cases, works of art were expressions of 
civic pride.

Renaissance Art


The art of the Renaissance owed as much to the social system in which
 the artists lived and worked as to the individual genius and techniques
 of the artists. Wealth within the cities permitted the creation of 
public works of art—buildings and monumental sculpture. The celebration 
of the individual and the existence of disposable wealth led to a sudden
 interest in portraiture. Renaissance art was also the product of a 
system of education based on the principles of the craft guilds. 
Students worked as members of shops where wealthy patrons contracted 
specific works of art. It was, in short, a business. Most Renaissance 
artists became skilled in more than one area of expertise. The great 
geniuses of the Renaissance were equally renowned for their 
architectural, sculptural, and painted works.

An Architect, a Sculptor, and a Painter

The early Renaissance produced three artistic masters who dominated 
their respective fields. Brunelleschi combined classical architectural 
motifs—in particular the dome and round windows with concepts already 
present in late Gothic architecture to produce a radically new style. 
His greatest triumph was the dome atop the cathedral in Florence. In 
sculpture, Donatello was the most important early Renaissance innovator.
 Again, Donatello impressed classical concepts of the ideal form on the 
sculpture of the later Gothic period. Among his contributions was a 
renewed interest in the equestrian monumental statue, a common feature 
of public art in antiquity. Masaccio introduced the mathematical science
 of linear perspective to Renaissance painting. His innovation gave 
paintings the illusion of three-dimensional space.

Renaissance Style

By 1450 the innovations of Masaccio, Donatello, and Brunelleschi had 
produced a recognizable Renaissance style, nowhere more apparent than in
 Florence. For the middle period of the Renaissance, the greatest 
architect was Leon Battista Alberti. He continued Brunelleschi’s 
technique of utilizing basic geometric forms according to Euclidean 
theorems. Alberti not only worked in monumental scale, but also 
transferred the new style to domestic scale. No sculptor of the middle 
period surpassed the artistic achievements of Donatello, but there were 
many painting masters. Piero della Francesca surpassed Masaccio’s study 
of linear perspective, possibly under the influence of Alberti’s 
geometric studies in architecture. Sandro Botticelli introduced a 
greater sense of romanticism and emotion than the more rigorously 
geometric painters. Better known still was Leonardo da Vinci. A master 
of composition (The Last Supper) and portraiture (La Gioconda or the Mona Lisa), Leonardo also was a master of scientific speculation.


The most complete master of the Renaissance was Michelangelo 
Buonarroti—sculptor, painter, poet and architect. A son of a wealthy 
Florentine family, Michelangelo underwent the customary training as an 
apprentice in an artistic shop patronized by Lorenzo de’ Medici. His 
period of apprenticeship, two years, was remarkably brief. During his 
studies he may have been influenced by Neoplatonist philosophers who 
also enjoyed Lorenzo de’ Medici’s patronage. Following his 
apprenticeship, Michelangelo embarked on a career that took him first to
 Rome and then back to Florence. Between 1496 and 1504 he created two 
masterpieces of sculpture, the Pieta and David. The expressiveness and 
majesty of the two works guaranteed the artist’s fame. A third work, the
 paintings covering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, 
established Michelangelo as a painter as well as a sculptor. In some 
ways the most impressive achievement of the Sistine Chapel was 
Michelangelo’s ability to make the rounded surface of the ceiling appear
 flat when the frescoes were viewed from the floor. Michelangelo’s 
masterpieces continued throughout his career, but the crowning glory of 
his life was the completion of the dome for St. Peter’s Cathedral, the 
seat of St. Peter’s grave. The building of the dome was considered an 
architectural impossibility, but Michelangelo solved the load-bearing 
problems and integrated the structure into the already completed base of
 the cathedral. Renaissance art was an expression of the society that 
was responsible for its creation. It merged the renewed taste for 
classical models with the remnants of medieval art. A contemporary 
observer was able to list over two hundred major artists of the period.

Renaissance Ideals


Renaissance thought was embodied in the scholarly approach called 
humanism. Like Renaissance art, humanism entailed the synthesis of 
classical literary forms into the educational system. Those responsible 
for the recovery and interpretation of classical texts were referred to 
as humanists. While humanism did include topics that could be considered
 secular in nature and did often dwell on the accomplishments of man, 
there was nothing antireligious in the humanistic curriculum. Many 
humanists applied the study of classical languages to ecclesiastical 
texts, including the Bible.

Humanists and the Liberal Arts

At the heart of humanistic education was the study of ancient texts, 
particularly Greek works. After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks 
in 1453, Italy became the center of Greek studies. Humanism also 
departed from Scholasticism in the points of emphasis within the 
curriculum. Humanists placed importance on grammar, rhetoric, moral 
philosophy, and history. Of the ancient authors, Cicero was most favored
 as a model for humanistic studies. Petrarch was responsible for the 
elevation of Cicero to the humanistic pedestal. Petrarch’s most 
important successor, Leonardo Bruni, concentrated on the study of the 
texts of the two major Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Bruni 
was one of the founders of the influential Florentine Platonic Academy. 
Lorenzo Valla was famed for his study of philology, the study of the 
origin of words. Rigorously utilizing the humanistic study of philology,
 Valla invalidated the papacy’s claims to secular authority in Italy by 
proving the so-called Donation of Constantine a forgery. Humanists 
tended to be political activists. Leon Battista Alberti wrote a tract 
proposing proper family lifestyles in the urban setting. Even more 
influential was the work of Baldesar Castiglione. In the Courtier 
Castiglione defined the qualities necessary for the successful member of
 the ruling elite. The Courtier was both a book of etiquette and 
political science.

Renaissance Science

Renaissance scientific inquiry emphasized the recovery of ancient 
texts and their correction based on observation. In the biological 
sciences the recovery of the works of Hippocrates led to greater 
interest in anatomy and advances in the setting of broken bones. The 
treatment of disease was heavily influenced by the work of Galen which 
explained disease as an imbalance of bodily humors. At the same time new
 engineering techniques developed through the search for solutions to 
practical problems by Renaissance craftsmen and artists working on the 
building projects of the Renaissance.

Machiavelli and Politics

In The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli portrayed the ideal 
characteristics of a ruling prince in Renaissance Italy. His work has 
been interpreted as the blueprint for power politics without regard to 
public benefit. The son of a relatively poor lawyer, Machiavelli 
received a humanistic education before entering public service in the 
Florentine government. He served primarily as a diplomat until his 
dismissal from office and subsequent banishment. In exile he composed 
his literary works, including The Prince. Machiavelli’s 
dissection of the proper use of power is based on classical models drawn
 from history. It is entirely secular in mood. The sole concern of the 
ruler is maintaining power without reference to ethics. Rulers were 
advised to conquer, murder, and deceive in order to restore the ancient 

The Politics of the Italian City-States


The Italian peninsula was dotted with city-states. The economic 
supremacy of the cities was a result of their position astride the trade
 routes between East and West. Each state was a political entity that 
competed politically and militarily with its neighbors.

The Five Powers

Five political units dominated the affairs of Italy. In the far 
south, hereditary monarchs ruled the kingdom of Naples, including the 
island of Sicily. In the middle of the fifteenth century, the kingdom 
fell to the Spanish monarchs of Aragon. Just north of the kingdom of 
Naples lay the Papal States, technically ruled from Rome. Within the 
Papal States were numerous semi-independent cities seeking to distance 
themselves from ecclesiastical government. The last three political 
powers were city-states of northern Italy. Florence and Venice were 
republics. The former was inland. The latter was a maritime republic, 
dependent on sea power, and only later developing dominance over its 
landlocked neighbors. The last of the group was Milan, governed by a 
single aristocratic family. Until 1450, the political affairs of the 
Italian peninsula were chaotic. Foreign invasions, internal 
insurrections and political rivalries, and inter-city warfare destroyed 
any semblance of order. After the middle of the fifteenth century, 
internal order was achieved through the development of increasingly 
centralized governments. The republics saw the emergence of powerful 
elites that gained control over the electoral processes. In Milan, 
Francesco Sforza established a new military government. The succession 
of the Aragonese to the throne of Naples brought order in the South. 
Finally, the end of the Great Schism allowed the popes to restore their 
authority within the Papal States. Restoration of internal order led to 
the creation of a diplomatic balance of power within the peninsula. 
Since the hiring of mercenary soldier, called condottieri, was 
expensive, the Italian states used diplomacy as both a defensive and 
offensive weapon. Sforza’s overthrow of the Visconti in Milan led to the
 Peace of Lodi and the alliance of Milan with Florence. Venice allied 
with Naples.

Venice: A Seaborne Empire

Venice’s prosperity was based on its military and commercial control 
of the seas. From the tenth century, Venice enjoyed a privileged 
position in Byzantine trade. All of the lucrative trade coming into the 
city from the east had to be carried on Venetian galleys. The republican
 government controlled all merchant contracts in such a way that many, 
rather than a few, prospered. Venetian government was also intended to 
distribute power among many. A strictly regulated oligarchy, power was 
restricted to those families able to secure membership in the Great 
Council. From the approximately 2,500 men who were members of the Great 
Council, all public officers were chosen. Terms of public service were 
brief, and even the highest offices were distributed evenly among all 
members of the Great Council. Venice was able to create an enormous 
overseas empire in the East along the lines of its trade routes to the 
Byzantine Empire. In the fifteenth century, Venice began to extend its 
control to the west into the Italian peninsula. In part, the creation of
 a land empire was to balance the loss of eastern trade associated with 
the fall of Constantinople.

Florence: Spinning Cloth into Gold

The Florentine economy was based on the commercial successes of its 
numerous banking houses and on the industrial capacity of its woolen 
crafts. The calamities of the mid-fourteenth century ended prosperity 
for many banking families and for the cloth industry. Eligibility for 
the Florentine government depended on guild membership. As the number of
 guild masters was few, the government in Florence, as in Venice, was an
 oligarchic republic. Leaders among Florentine families were able to 
create powerful factions and to control access to public office. In the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Medici family was able to secure
 domination of the Florentine government. The Medici were a powerful 
banking family whose members were closely associated as patrons with the
 cultural revival of the Renaissance. The most famous of the family was 
Lorenzo the Magnificent. Himself a product of a humanistic education, 
Lorenzo excelled at diplomacy. He was able to maintain the balance of 
power in the Italian peninsula, although his concentration on political 
affairs permitted his banking house to collapse. In the long run, the 
success of the Medici political faction corrupted the sense of 
republicanism in Florence.

The End of Italian Hegemony, 1450-1527

During the Renaissance, Italy enjoyed a political, cultural, and 
economic hegemony over western Europe. The political empires of the five
 major states of Italy were tenuous. They were immediately threatened by
 the expansion of the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed II. Conquerors of the 
Byzantine Empire, the Ottomans rapidly extended their control to the 
Balkan peninsula and to Greece. The Ottomans posed a most direct threat 
to the Venetians, who lost their seaborne empire in the East. Despite 
the Ottoman challenge, the Italian states were unable to overcome their 
individual differences. Instead, they plunged into an internecine 
conflict that destroyed the equilibrium of political power in Italy. 
Wars between the Italian states brought foreign intervention. Charles 
VIII of France in alliance with Milan successfully conquered most of 
northern Italy. In response, the defeated powers brought in Spain and 
the Holy Roman Emperor to offset the influence of the French. The myth 
of Italian power was destroyed in the Italian Wars.


creation of first bougeouis aristocracy
"Orbecche" - 1541
First vernacular tragedy by Cinthio; play was a huge success; Italian tragedy became Senecan from then on
the individual and his role
flat-topped underprop that projects from a wall as support
* Donatello, David, 1420-1460
-old testament story david a young boy killed goliath a monster
-nudity banned during middle ages unless its like adam and eve
-return of classical contraposto nude
- just beheaded goliath, casually resting his foot on the head
-straw hat represents that he is a peasant
-nude figure represents vulnerability, small, non muscular
- the only way he could've won was by the influence of god , so christianity justified
- first nude since antiquity
c.1266-1337. Father of renaissance painting. Perspective first used. facial expressions reflect humanity and emotion"the Ascension" "the funeral of Saint Francis"
Agnolo Bronzino
Eleonora of Toledo and Her Son, Giovanni
commissioned by Cosimo I
oil on panel
c. 1546
"Birth of Venus", painter, romanticism and emotion in paintings
Decameron in vernacular - collection of 10 stories
greatest of the venetians , realistic
old men; Pantalone (lecherous and miserly old man) and Il Dottore (absentminded, absurd professor/philosopher - complex verbal improvisation)
Humanists taught
Greek, Latin, History and Philospy
Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-1519) Painter, scientist, engineer; Noted for drawings of human anatomy an dmodern innovations such as the helicopter
a circular painting or relief sculpture
fine laces, embroidery, velvet, silks, leather
A great sculptor and painter, workaholic, worked for Pope Julius II
Medici Palace
1436- 1440 Brunelleschi Florence, Italy
different facade, 1st level projection of stone. 2nd floor code of arms (coins). series of large arches at bottom. 3rd floor completely flat. organic 3 dimensional effect.
Italian Renaissance Style
used spells/formulas to change one substance into another
Leonardo da Vinci
Madonna of the Rocks
commissioned by the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception for their chapel in San Francesco Grande, Milan
oil on panel
begun 1483
moveable pieces of scenery with multiple scenes painted on each side
Renissance Education
Boys: Followed "The Courtier" Girls: Studied the classics & learned poetry/languages
guili bude
helped establish national library in paris
text of an opera, secondary to music
~humanist ideas inspired by Cicero an Virgil
~ wrote love poems to "laura" imaginary perfect women.
a dictatorship where they ruled using violence to control society while improving the city
Cassone nuziale
An Italian Renaissance dower chest that typically had the coats of arms of the two families joinedby marriage
canopy on columns usually over an alter
Lucretia Borgia
Daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, married four times
Louis V blunders
1. destroyed weaker states
2. strengthened a prince already strong
3. brought a powerful stranger into country
4. didn't reside
5. had not sent colonies
Wars of Italy
(1494-1529) Began when Naples, Florence, and the Papal States united against Milan; Milan had France intervene, Papal States & Venice asked King Ferdinand and HRE for help
Francesco Petrarch
humanist, scholar, and teacher; love poetry; classical education-Greeks and Romans
Giulio Romano
Fall of the Giants from Mount Olympus
Sala di Psiche, Palazzo del Te, Mantua
commissioned by Federigo Gonzago
Alfonso I
King of Napels, patronized Lorenzo Valla a humanist, kings in continual conflict with Papacy, Valla proved the Donation of Constantine a forgery in favor of Alfonso I, from Aragon, secured Napels in 1443
Status of the Artist
Paid very well by patrons
Tuscan Trimuvirate
Dante, Petrarch, Boccacio - first 3 major writeres & their work helped make the Tuscan dialect standard form of It. language
peace of augsburg
charles had o execpet "CURIUS REGLIOCUS RELIGIO "
95 Theses
October 31, 1517- nailed 95 reasons about disagreement w/ john tetzel about selling indulgences
Groove System
early 1600s; earliest method of scene shifting for flat-wing settings; wings and shutters placed in grooves and above stage door - grooves allowed elements to slide offstage easily and quickly so new wings and shutters (in place behind original set) would be revealed
was one of the earliest and most influential humanists. He was also a great poet who wrote sonnets.
 Francesco Andreini
 Innamorato: male lover
 Captain Spavento: most famous role
Lantern or cupola
A fenestrated superstructure on the roof of a building, often on a dome/ A superstructure on a roof or dome without fenestration. Might have openings to provide ventilation
engaged column
A half-round column attached to a wall
Peter The Great
Romanov Dynasty, Sofia (sister who became regent) took great Sovereign
Michelangelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564) Was considered to be the greatest sculptor of his day; painted the Sistine Chapel; the Church was his main patron
the period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world
Niccolò Machiavelli
1469 - 1527; the most important writer of the Italian Renaissance; believed it is better to be feared than loved; had a secular, ammoral view of politics; felt a ruler's 1st & foremost priority was to preserve his authority
1534 act of supremacy
king head of chrch in england
Camerata of Florence
creators of opera: Jacopo Peri and Dafne
a rich and showy type of chest, which may be inlaid or carved, prepared with gesso ground then painted and gilded. used by the wealthy; typically given as a wedding gift; use to store valuables (e.g., linens)
Piano nobile
Level above ground level in an Italian structure.
Franceso Petrarch
Writer and poet, invented the idea of rebirth of Ancient Culture
Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1452-1519. What talents did da Vinci have?
painter. sculptor. inventor. scientist.
read his writings by looking at them in a mirror
"The Book of the Courtier"
1518 by Castigilione; presented the rules of gentlemanly behavior, with focus on Greek/Latin, able to write, speak well, entertain, etc.
Characteristics of Commedia Dell'Arte
1. Pure theatre; "play of professional artists"
2. 10 performers - 7 men and 3 women
10-13 performers - 7 to 10 men; 2-3 women
3. Traveling troupes
4. Usually staged comedies
5. Improvised presentations - scenarios (short scripts without dialogue) - plot outlines - performers had no set text but invented the words and actions as they went along
6. Stock characters evolved from ancient mime - medieval farces - further refined by later playwrights
Who was Vittoria Colonna?
a female writer in the Renaissance with great influence.
Role of Merchant Guilds in the Communes
Built/maintained city walls, regulated trade, raised taxes, kept civil order
Book of Courtier by Castiglione
describes what is expected of an aristocrat: education, fundamentals, and to follow the standard of conduct; and to serve prince hoenstly and effectively
Name Michelangelo's famous works. Decscribe them as much as needed.
Moses, Mary holding Jesus, St. Peter's in Rome,ceiling in the Sistine Chapel
Name and describe the tree types of folding chairs that emerged in the renaissance
Savonarola- composed of interlacing curved slats & had a carved wooden back and arms. Dante- heavy curved arms & legs & usually had a leather or cloth back & seat. Monastery type- smaller and built of interlacing straight splats
What was expected of women in the Renaissance?
to inspire art, but not create it
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