The Influence Humanism Had on Italian Renaissance Art Essay Example

The Influence Humanism Had on Italian Renaissance Art Essay Example
📌Category: All About Art, Art
📌Words: 626
📌Pages: 3
📌Published: 12 April 2021

Humanism helped change what artists painted in the Renaissance. Before the humanist movement, art was mostly biblical, but the humanist way of thinking brought new ideas and revolution to artists in Italy. Humanism focused on the study of Latin and Greek literature in hopes of understanding human nature. This study influenced drawings and paintings of many artists including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and many more. 

One of Michelangelo’s most famous pieces of artwork is David. He represents the ideals of human perfection and symbolizes the republic of Florence standing up to larger and more powerful enemies. One of the many ways, David fits into humanist values is how he is depicted before his fight with Goliath not after. He is anticipating the fight, but is portrayed to be thinking. This can show rationally about how he will beat Goliath. Not with strength, but with intelligence, skill, and good judgement. He also symbolizes the republic of Florence standing up to their enemies. He is representing righteous behavior, which is a humanist idea. Another one of Michelangelo's paintings was the Last Judgement. The Last Judgement is dramatic and violent, while representing terror and divine power. Even though the Last Judgement is a religious painting it shows humans at their weakest point. The humanistic traits are shown through the human’s faces. Michelangelo also used mythological creatures instead of following the Bible strictly in his artwork, which can relate back to his humanist philosophy. 

Leonardo was a humanist. He was considered a Renaissance man, and drew everything he saw. Also, he studied live and dead bodies to understand how the human body worked. One of his drawings the Vitruvian Man is an example of the humanist influence on his artwork. The Vitruvian man is a lone man in his natural form. The drawing has relations to the ideal human proportions and the geometric shapes of the circle and the square are ideas based on the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. This was Leonardo’s attempts to relate man and nature. The humanist movement helped move focus from church and God to man itself. This was present in Leonardo’s work. Leonardo was an inventor. He used his drawings as a tool for scientific investigation. He drew many plans for many different inventions, which would eventually become reality centuries later. These inventions helped make him be considered a Renaissance  art genius. 

Botticelli’s artwork has humanist influences. One part of the humanist movement was the importance of humans, not just divine beings and God. This allowed him to paint non traditional gods and goddesses, while painting humans on the same level as gods and goddesses. Therefore, his artwork has Roman gods and goddesses, which before the humanist movement were rarely ever painted because most artwork focused on the Bible. The Primavera is an example of how Botticelli was influenced. It is about classical mythology featuring Venus, Flora, Three Graces, Cupid, Zephyrus, and Chloris. He did capture the ideal Renaissance woman’s body of being slender, with pale skin, a high forehead, red, blonde hair, and sloping shoulders. This relates to how humanists perceived the ideal human body proportions. 

Some other Renaissance artists are Giotto, who used realism in his art replacing the stiffness of humans that usually represented them. He emphasized human concerns and emotions. Filippo Brunelleschi often looked towards the classical past for inspiration making sure all the proportions were thought out carefully to achieve balance and harmony. He was a humanist due to the fact he often looked back to the classical era for help and inspiration in his art. 

There are many ways in which humanism changed how things were done. The effect it had on artists helped change and develop whole new art styles that are still used and talked about today. With Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas and drawings, with Michelanglo’s paintings, Botticelli’s mythological artwork, and many other new ways of thinking and progression helped the Renaissance and humanist ideals. 


Mckay, John P., Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler, Clare Haru Crowston, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, and Joe Perry. A History of Western Society. 11th ed. N.p.: Mary V. Dougherry, 2014.


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