Early Renaissance Vs. High Renaissance Art Explained

The Renaissance period art is considered one of the most essential art periods. Renaissance Art was known to be a time of “rebirth.”

Early Renaissance and High Renaissance are both periods of the art of the Renaissance era. The entire Renaissance era shared a lot of the same characteristics. The High Renaissance was dominated by three major artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

Table of Contents

Early Renaissance Vs. High Renaissance Art Period Explained

Many believe that the Renaissance was just one period of art, but the truth is that the Renaissance can be divided up into several different art movements. Two of those most significant movements were the Early Renaissance and High Renaissance Art movements.

Early Renaissance Art Explained

The Early Renaissance art movement started in Florence, Italy, from the 1400s to 1495. It flourished and started in Florence, Italy, considered the cultural capital of Italian Renaissance art.

Here are some of the main characteristics of the Early Renaissance:

Adoracion of The Magi
Sample Art In Early Renaissance
Adoracion of The Magi (1476) By Sandro Botticelli
  • Humanism Ideal – During the Renaissance, the Humanism ideals were a substantial cultural shift in Europe. These humanism ideals included new ideas at the time for self-reliance and civic virtue, along with the belief among the ordinary people in uniqueness, dignity, and a value for human life.
  • Naturalism In Art – During the Renaissance, naturalism became very important, and human figures were depicted with more anatomical realism and emotive qualities than before.
  • Fascination With Greek And Rome Antiquity – The entire Renaissance era saw a renewed fascination with Greek and Rome Antiquity. Also, during this time, especially in Italy, Greek and Roman statues were unearthed and discovered.
Sample Art In Early Renaissance
The Birth of Venus (1485) By Sandro Botticelli
  • Linear Perspective Was Important – For Renaissance Artists, including the Early Renaissance Artists, Linear Perspective in art was very important. Many of them used mathematics or geometry to help them gain a better linear perspective.

All of these were a change from the Byzantine art period. Under Byzantine art, the art was flatter and more two-dimensional that Early Renaissance art.

Painters during the Early Renaissance began the Renaissance period by focusing mainly on Greek and Roman-inspired scenes.

Gradually the painters of the Early Renaissance would focus on more religious paintings. During this period in Italy, the Catholic Church had a lot of power, and its influence would increase as the Early Renaissance progressed.

High Renaissance Art Explained

High Renaissance Art flourished for about 35 years, from the early 1490s to 1526. The High Renaissance revolved around three towering artistic figures: Leonardo da Vinci (1452 to 1519). Michelangelo (1475 to 1564), and Raphael (1483 to 1520).

Each of these three artists influenced the High Renaissance period of art. The High Renaissance built upon the Early Renaissance characteristics.

Here are some ways that Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael influence the High Renaissance period of art:

Leonardo da Vinci
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452 to 1519) – Leonardo da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man, a genius who spent his days and hours studying art and other studies such as medicine, science, and inventions; there was nothing that he would not study or learn. He relentlessly studied autonomy, the nature of light, and the structure of plant and animal life, so he had little time to paint; the art he did create is considered Renaissance masterpieces.
  • Michelangelo (1475 to 1564) – Michelangelo was a creative genius who was not afraid to take on vast projects. Michelangelo drew a lot of inspiration from the perfected human form and continues to be one of the most influential artists who ever lived.
  • Raphael (1483 to 1520) – Raphael was an artistic genius that created work that perfectly expressed the Classical spirit of harmony, beauty, and serene. He was a very influential Renaissance artist who also painted many masterpieces.

The Italian High Renaissance emerged around Florence and other heavily-populated areas centered around the Roman Catholic Church’s many prominent cathedrals. The High Renaissance built upon the same characteristics as the Early Renaissance, but there were specific aspects of the High Renaissance.

Here are a few aspects of the High Renaissance:

  • Three Major Artists Influenced The High Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael were central figures of the High Renaissance.
  • Religious Art – During the High Renaissance, artists took a great interest in religious themes and ideas that were part of Christianity.
  • Many Religious Commissions – In the High Renaissance, many artists received art from the Catholic church. The churches in Italy also controlled a lot of wealth, so this directly correlated with the artists doing art commissions at the request of church leaders.

At the end of the High Renaissance era, the Renaissance ended. Some historians say that the Renaissance ended at the death of Raphael. Most believe it happened sometime later with the sacking of Rome by Charles V; the sacking of Rome came about in 1527 and brought an end to the golden age of the once-thriving nation of Italy. 

Charles V became the Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, King of Spain and Lord of the Netherland, and Duke of Burgundy; for a time, he was in control of most of Europe, including Italy.

The Renaissance “Rebirth” Term Explained

Jules Michelet

The term Renaissance was not used until a French historian name Jules Michelet used the term “Renaissance” to refer to the painting, architecture, and sculptures created in Italy from 1400 to 1530. 

The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects By Giorgio Vasari
The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects By Giorgio Vasari

The term Renaissance was based upon the Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari using the word “rebirth” in his book The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (also known as Lives of the Artists – 1568). 

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy By Jacob Burckhardt

Two years after Jules Michelet used the term was used by Jacob Burckhardt when he published his book. “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy” in98yghuffghu about 1860. The word Renaissance started to become a convenient way to describe this period.

The Italian artists and elite never used the word Renaissance or Rinascita, but they were conscious that this was a unique period of cultural rebirth that was taking place.

Anita Louise Art is dedicated to art education, great artists, and inspiring others to find and create their art. We love art that uplifts and inspires. #ArtToMakeYouSmile! #ArtToMakeYouHappy!

If you are interested to see any of my art, you can find out more by clicking here. If you are interested in what inspires me and my paintings, you can discover more by clicking here.

We have a free newsletter and would love you to be part of our community; you can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking here. If you have any questions, I would be happy to talk to you. You can reach me, Anita, by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Anita Louise Art YouTube Channel filled with great videos and information by clicking here.

Join us for our podcast 5 Minutes With Art.” Spend just 5 minutes a week with us to discover and learn about great art and artists. You can find out more about our podcast by clicking here.

What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?

The focus of Renaissance art was on the classics of Greek and Rome, humanist philosophy, and the study of the human figure. Realism was also an essential part of renaissance art. The great artists of the Renaissance also became great anatomists and studied human beings.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?.

What Is The Importance Of Art From The Renaissance Period?

Renaissance art is essential as it was a time of rebirth and discovery. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael were at the forefront of that change, creation, and discovery. Renaissance art has influenced art and artists for many centuries and continues to influence artists today.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Is The Importance Of Art From The Renaissance Period?.

Did Leonardo da Vinci Believe In God?

Leonardo did not tell us what his belief in God was, but there is evidence that is left that suggests that he held fast to many Christian ideals and beliefs. People such as the artist and author Giorgio Vasari, who knew him and wrote about him, spoke of his character and what a great man he was.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Did Leonardo da Vinci Believe In God?.