Italian art: The Beginnings of Italian Renaissance Art

The Beginnings of Italian Renaissance Art

Major painters, including Guido of Siena, Cimabue, and Duccio di Buoninsegna, while retaining many of the Byzantine conventions, introduced a new naturalism and a more direct appeal to human emotion. The same spirit is seen in the powerful sculpture of Nicola Pisano. He made use of elements from classical antiquity, as did Pietro Cavallini in his fresco paintings in Rome.

But it is with Giotto di Bondone, a contemporary of Dante, that the new painting first takes on life and warmth. His style, perfected c.1300, determined the future course of art in Italy. His immediate followers, Taddeo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi, Giottino, and others spread his teachings and technique. Simultaneously, art flourished in 14th-century Siena, following the example set by Duccio and developing a more Gothic manner. Among the superb artists of the Sienese school were the painters Simone Martini and the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the sculptors Giovanni Pisano and Arnolfo di Cambio.

The Black Death (1348) severely curtailed artistic productivity for the next two generations. Apocalyptic frescoes were created during this time by Andrea Orcagna in Florence and by Francesco Traini in Pisa. The pessimistic content of this art was superseded in the early 15th cent. by an elegant manner known as the International style (see Gothic architecture and art), manifest in the works of Lorenzo Monaco, Gentile da Fabriano, Masolino da Panicale, and to a certain extent Pisanello.

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