The Renaissance got its start when a group of writers and scholars in Italy began to seek out the knowledge of classical Rome and Greece. These Italians looked back on Ancient Greece and Rome as a time when literature, philosophy, art and architecture all flourished. Starting in the 1300s, the practice of studying ancient works by the Romans and Greeks became known as humanism. Those who studied these classical works became known as humanists. These humanists became popular throughout Italy in the mid 1300s A.D.


Here is one type of painting in which you can clearly see the change in styles: During both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a common subject of religious paintings was Mary and the baby Jesus. In medieval paintings, Mary, Jesus, and various saints were often painted with gold halos, indicating that they were divine. During the Renaissance, the same religious subjects were painted to emphasize their human-ness


Renaissance scientists wanted to learn more about human anatomy. This  interest led to important collaborations between artists and physicians. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo teamed up with physicians to perform autopsies  so they could learn about muscles and bones. Artists demonstrated how to create accuratea natomical drawings .

Renaissance was based on two cities and two centuries.


The city-state of Florence in Italy was the location where the Italian Renaissance began. This city was ruled by a wealthy family known as the Medici family. The Medici’s taxed both the poor and the wealthy, and used the funds to build public works, such as roads and sewers, that benefited everyone. Florence

The result was that Florence became one of the wealthiest cities in all of Western Europe. The Medici Family were avid supporters of the humanities. They donated money to help support the development of the arts in their city.

Florence flourished in the 14th century a period called Quattrocento.


By the early 1500s A.D., Florence began to decline. Political unrest and uprisings had led to a loss of power and wealth so that the Medici Family lost influence . In the city-state of Rome, power was held by the Pope and other leaders of the Catholic Church. Many of the Renaissance Popes used their influence to rebuild the city . These Popes acted more like kings than religious leaders. By laying heavy taxes on their people, they  built magnificent churches and palaces .  Rome was the most important artistic center during the Cinquecento (16th century)

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