1985 To what extent is the term “Renaissance” a valid concept for a distinct period in early

modern European history?



1994 Explain the ways in which Italian Renaissance humanism transformed ideas about the

individual’s role in society.

Thesis: The Renaissance which began in the 16th century in Italy called for many changes in society. One of which was a radical change in the behavior and ideology of mankind. Men and women all around Italy began specializing in multiple aspects in society. Art was beginning to focus on an artist's ideas and beliefs, it began to evolve and reflect a person's nature instead of unnatural and unrealistic ideas.
During the Renaissance, individuals throughout Italy were classified as Renaissance men and women due to their capabilities in different areas of specialty, from politics to science

  • An ideal Renaissance man would be one who was capable of succeeding in multiple areas during his lifetime.
  • An example would by Castiglione’s book, The Courtier, which talked about the the ideals of a perfect man in the first two books.
  • In Castiglione's third book, he discussed how a woman can become an ideal woman.
  • Leonardo DaVinci, a well known renaissance man was able to advance in many aspects of society
  • DaVinci was a successful painter, whose famous painting Mona Lisa's smile still remains a mystery to many
  • DaVinci was one of the first persons to draw an embryo in utero, he drew many different organs and muscles in the body after dissecting and observing the body.
  • Along with being a scientist and artist, DaVinci was also an inventor. He had drawn many different pictures of flying machines, which are now known as airplanes.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli was also a well known Renaissance man
  • He is credited with writing, The Prince, in which he describes that to become a ruler, a person must to anything to achieve it as well as to do everything possible to maintain the leadership
  • Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, was an important figure during the Italian Renaissance
  • Pico wrote The Oration on the Dignity of Man, which was called the “Manifesto of the Renaissance” and was an important text of Renaissance humanism
Provided an opportunity for an individual to express their personal feelings through artwork
  • Giotto, who was the father of Renaissance painting, was known for creating his natural paintings.
  • Sculptors such as Donatello were sculpting the world around them more naturally and literally.
  • Leonardo DaVinci was one of the greatest Rennaisance painters of all time.
  • DaVinci possessed a great skill for conveying inner moods to a painting, he showed this skill in his self-portrait.
  • Raphael a well known artist during the Italian Renaissance who possessed a true quality of the Renaissance artistic technique.
  • Raphael created a fresco, The School of Athens which portrayed the great philosophers of the Renaissance
  • He did an excellent job in the expressions of every person in his fresco, and gave each person maximum detail
  • Michelangelo was famous during the Renaissance for his eight - foot sculpture, David.
  • The sculpture was a great example of symmetry, harmony, and proportion.
  • The sculpture was an extreme glorification of human form.
  • The human form and mind was beginning to develop during the Renaissance, which was well represented in the various paintings, frescos, and sculptures of the time.
Rucha Acharya


1996 Compare and contrast the patronage of the arts by Italian Renaissance rulers with that of

the dictators of the 1930’s.

Thesis: From using patronage to higher social prestige, as in the Renaissance, to using it as a tool for the spread of propaganda, as used under the dictators of the 1930’s, patrons of art have had many different and similar motives for the sponsorship of art.


Renaissance Patronage:

- Renaissance patrons wanted art that showed joy in human beauty and life’s pleasures.

- Patronage was good public relations for rulers.

- It was the key to social status

- A career and social mobility were almost impossible apart from being involved in a network of patronage relationships

- In the medieval times, most patronage came from the Church, but the ruling classes, the kings, princes and nobles, made up a second group of patrons

- The economic prosperity of the city meant that its merchants and bankers became wealthy too, and could afford to become patrons of the arts

- This group of powerful families took over the government of Florence and wanted to show the world that their learning, piety and taste made them worthy of their high standing in society.

- The leading Florentine family was the Medici – they spent money on constructing churches, encouraging art and supporting charities.

- An example of this patron-reputation linkage is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, whose patron was the Pope himself (Julius II).

- In the Renaissance the Church and the aristocracy had enormous influence on art, dictating what could be depicted and how it could be depicted, and commissioning most of the major artworks.For example, Leonardo, Tiziano, Raphael. There was no conception of the artist as expressing his individual ideas or experiences as there was in the 20th C.

Patronage in the 1930’s:

- The era’s dictators were Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Franco
- By contrast, the 1930s were part of the era of the artist as individual, and we saw tremendous experimentation both technically and conceptually by artists such as Dali and Kandinsky.
- Art, architecture and film were used as propaganda to further the ideals of the totalitarian regimes.
- Culture was fiercely contested by the competing ideologies of Communism and Fascism
- Artists faced difficult choices about their relationship to authority - for some this presented exceptional opportunities; for others it cost them their lives
- Speer, an architect had a plan to show Germany what it would look like had Hitler won the war. The plan included a triumphal arch three times the size of the Arc de Triomphe, a huge palace for the Führer and two 50 kilometer highways stretching from east to west and north to south, one crowned by a People's Hall, 300 meters high with space for 150,000 people.
- The Spanish pavilion, designed by the Catalan architect Sert, housed Picasso's "Guernica" while Franco's artists where shown in the Vatican pavilion.
- This showed how art in favor of the dictator was held higher in reverence.
- In Germany, Beckmann, Nolde, Klee, Barlach and Kollwitz were labeled degenerate because of painting material unfavorable for the Nazis, while artists and sculptors such as Ziegler, Breker, Thorak and Kolbe were purchased and promoted by the Nazis.
- In Nazi Germany, the theme of Mother Earth serves the political agenda and defends a nationalist ideology based on racial purity. Images of rural families are used as a propaganda tool, and become a symbol of the sense of belonging to one’s land.
- In addition, the totalitarian regimes of Germany, Italy and Russia referred to Classicism’s valued and idealized form as a tool of political propaganda, and it quickly became the language of power. To justify themselves with the great beliefs of the past, they used ideass found within classical art as justification for their warped ideological views regarding the perfection of the human body.

Similarities between the Renaissance and 20th century patronage:

- Both had some self – centered goals (social prestige, political gain)
- Both gave way to some of the world’s greatest talent – Michelangelo, Raphael, Ziegler and Sert.
- Both provided major funding for major forms of art.
- The ability to provide patronage was a sign of wealth or power during both times.
- Both had Greco – Roman influences
In the 1930's, many painters still needed to rely on public commissions and wealthy patrons for work.

By: Liz Blesson


1998 Discuss how Renaissance ideas are expressed in the Italian art of the period referring to

specific works and artists.

thesis_funnel.pngInsofar as the the human element is concerned, Italian art during the Renaissance portrayed the human body in its natural form, indicating power and accomplishment through it. Moreover, Italian art during this time saw an improvement in technique, allowing depth and naturalness to be perceived through linear perspective and shading; this resulted in an all- important emphasis on reality, rather that the supernatural. Finally, Italian Renaissance artists depicted developing ideas of science and mathematics within their creations, reinforcing the idea that the world is governed by certain natural laws.

I. The Portrayal of Human Power Through Portrayal of the Body

  • Portrayal of humans in and of itself was a testament to human strength- human sculptures were finely chiseled to maintian anatomical accuracy. This shows that humans have a high place, as the utmost care is taken in depicting them.
  • Specific Example 1- Michaelangelo's David- Accurate human anatomy is revealed, showing human supremacy and "beauty." (ick)
  • Humans were portrayed as powerful and triumphant in works of art.
  • Specific Example 2- Donatello's David- David here is shown as epitomizing human triumph. He stands, naked and curious, over the head of the monster Goliath, who he has just killed. Portrayal of the body shows that it was human strength which ultimately triumphed over the beast.
  • Humanity was depicted as part of God, making humanity look even more powerful.
  • Specific Example 3- Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel- Adam is reaching for God, but there is a gap in between them in this work of art. Adam is seen to be like God, as they are both depicted with a human element through their naked bodies.

II. Improvement in Techniques of Perception and Naturalness

  • A sense of depth and linear perception was shown. This connected to Renaissance ideals because there is emphasis on the actual depiction, rather than the abstract and non- symmetrical. A better sense of realistics and accuracy was a Renaissansical ideal.
  • Specific Example 4- Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper. The illusion of depth is shown through the open windows and the slanting walls.
  • Employed art technique- Chiascuro, or contrast between light and dark, was applied.
  • Specific Example 5- Leonardo Da Vinci's Madonna with a Flower. Light in the window, dark background. (chiascuro)
  • Art technique- Sfumato, or blending of different tones.
  • Specific Example 6- Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa employs blending of colors. (sfumato)

III. Depiction of Mathematic and Scientific Discovery in Architecture and Art

  • New Renaissansical discoveries of math and science were used in architecture and art, enhancing ideas of natural, rather than supernatural law..
  • Specific Example 7- Filippo Brunelleschi's Dome of the Florentine Cathedral- He developed, through mathematical insight, a dome that had to encompass 140 feet across, a problem for previous architects.
  • Specific Example 8- Brunelleschi's Ospedale degli Innocenti (foundling hospital) was based upon mathematic proportions.
  • Scientific innovation was portrayed in Italian Renaissance art, reinforcing the possibility that science was a governing factor in the world.
  • Specific Example 9- Lorenzo Lotto's Husband and Wife shows evidence of optical lense use- the shapes have distinct vanishing points, certain foci, etc.
  • Those who made these scientific and mathematical discoveries about the true nature of the world were also shown as heroes in the Renaissance art.
  • Specific Example 10- Raphael's School of Athens- The philosophers, scientists, and innovative thinkers of the time are painted in a positive light here.

Taha Ahmad (The Beast)

2006 Analyze the effects of the Columbian Exchange (the interchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old World and the New World) on the population and economy of Europe in the period 1550 to 1700.

From 1550 to 1700, the Columbian Exchange allowed the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases that had a great impact on Europe. The increase in variety of food and livestock increased population in Europe, though disease and immigration to the New World caused a decrease. The supply of goods that could be traded increased, helping the economy of Europe.
By: Jake Cohen

2003 Explain how advances in learning and technology influenced 15th and 16th century European exploration and trade.

Throughout the 15th and 16th century advances in learning and technology began to influence trade and exploration. Humanist scholars sought educational reform and set goals in order to create an educated society. The Introduction of new forms of technology, such as the printing press in which it allowed books to be mass produced faster for a cheaper price, thus generating a more literate public. As well the invention of the compass allowed sailors to accurately navigate the seas. The two elements of learning and technology broadened peoples horizons and allowed for them to see beyond their adapted environment, prompting new areas of trade and exploration , along with new motives , which were god, gold, and glory.

I.Educational Reforms and Achievements Created by the formation of Institutions during 15th and 16th century :

  • Humanism - unchristian philosophy that stressed the dignity of human kind
  • encouraged individualism
  • Championed secular values
  • Promoted a sense of civic responsibility and political liberty
  • Humanists were innovative educators
  • Constantly sought new sources of information
  • Goal of humanists- to be wise and speak eloquently , and practice virtue
  • Petrarch - ( humanist scholar / teacher ) - believed learning ennobled people
  • Quintilians “education of the Orator” - basic classical guide for humanist revision of education
  • Vittorino da feltre- exemplified ideas of humanist teachings
  • Guarino de Verona- Greek scholar - studied classical language and gave it a new systematic type of form
  • Baldasare Castiglione’s “ Book of the Courtier”- depicts a successful courtier who new how to utilize his knowledge to the fullest , while keeping good morals
  • The Florentine Academy -informal school for influential Florentine humanists
  • Devoted to Greek works
  • Platonism appealed to many humanists
  • Believed and studied human nature and reason
  • Prince Henry’s Navigation schools- taught people how to navigable the seas correctly thus promoting exploration
  • Due to increased exploration colonization occurred and trade flourished

II.The development of new technologies that prompted exploration and trade during the 15th and 16th century :

  • The Printing Press-machine allowed books to be printed at a faster and cheaper rate
  • Made general public more literate because books became affordable
  • Kings and queens encouraged schools to help provide educated bureaucrats for staff positions
  • No one could properly govern without being literate
  • Movable type version of the printing press ( Johann Gutenberg)- books were produced on more topics intended for ordinary readers
  • Literacy nurtured self esteem and critical frame of mind
  • The print revolution gave anyone who was literate an instant authority
  • The printing pres also spread knowledge of nations to different countries as it spread different works all over the world causing a new “literacy trade”
  • Invention of the compass allowed people to navigate on the sea and determine more accurately where they were going
  • The creation of faster ships speed up travel time allowing explores to reach area of exploration quicker
  • Implementation of the triangular sail as well made voyages faster

Dominic Akerele