(Italian Renascimento, French Renaissance – revival)
Italian Renaissance is a pivotal era in the development of Italian and world art. The artists of the XV-XVI centuries revived antique forms, but reading totally new content into them. The word “revival” was first used in 1550 by the Italian painter Giorgio Vasari, the author of “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects”. It was not unfounded, since at the time the development and the revival of ancient traditions, as well as the opposition of the ancient aesthetic ideal to the gothic one, seemed to be the major task. Vasari identified the essence of the Renaissance artistic method as follows: nature is a “sample”, and the ancients are a “school”. Therefore, the creative discoveries of the Renaissance artists “were all partially obtained from their own imagination, and partially from the remains they have seen”. Vasari also wrote about the “scales that clouded the minds of men” (the Middle Ages and barbarism), which, all of a sudden, either by grace of God or under the influence of stars, has felled, and the artists saw the truly wonderful. However, the antiquity was not a role model but an incentive for creativity. The desire for renewal was a prerequisite of Classicism, new thinking with Roman antiquity allusion. The attitude towards the antiquity was not informative but romantic. The Renaissance ideology had not a real but an ideal nature. Imagining that they imitate antiquity, the Italian Renaissance artists created new forms. Few statues and reliefs, a small amount of coins and medals, and retellings of Roman authors by Italian humanists – that’s all the artists had at their disposal. No one knew what the Greek sculpture looked like. In the Renaissance epoch, by good fortune, the ideal of ancient form coincided with new ideas of the Christian culture. Therefore, the progress in the art of the Italian Renaissance was rapid, as if a man gained the knowledge just in a few minutes, while the previous generations spent years to gain the same. That’s why, even having no best Greek models, the great Florentine artists Donatello and Brunelleschi developed Classicism in just a decade. The best years of Florentine art, when the brightest works of the Italian Renaissance were created, are the years of civil unrests, palace intrigues, deaths from the poison and dagger. It is no accident that the Renaissance was so short (approximately 20 years). Naturally, the breaking out Renaissance almost immediately gave rise to such contradictory and intricate phenomenon as Mannerism and Baroque.
Classicism - resembling trend of Italian Renaissance art was, perhaps, a binding thread connecting all the styles, movements, schools, and individual aspirations of the artists, - different in form, but unified by the quest for new artistic thinking. Significance of the Italian Renaissance in the history of art is truly unique.