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An essay on art

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Benjamin N.
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documents in English
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  1. Introduction
  2. Brunelleschi's Sacrifice of Isaac
  3. The choice of subject matter
  4. The three developments
  5. Donatello's David
  6. Michelangelo's David
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

The art of Renaissance Italy is remarkable for its near complete break with past tradition, even as such art was still being made in the rest of Europe. The old forms and styles of the Middle Ages, which were primarily symbolic, gave way to a new art that strove for realism and at the same time glorification of its subject, and the artist too. These developments occurred in both sculpture and painting. Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Michelangelo, each was part of this revolution and created an art that reflected themselves and the times and changes that they were living in.

[...] Three developments that the art of Brunelleschi foreshadows are the rise of public patronage for the arts outside the church, the use of bronze, and the demand for increasingly realistic portrayals of Biblical figures, an influence of the growing Humanism in Renaissance Italy that elevated the status of man in the order of the natural world and cosmos. Within forty years of the Sacrifice of Isaac, Donatello sculpted his David, it was another break with the past, a freestanding sculpture made of bronze that showed a nude male body, complete with fully revealed genitalia. [...]


[...] David has a feather in his boot, which implied homosexuality in those days in Florence, either for David, the artist Donatello, or possibly both. The ambiguity of David's pose and helmet underscores Donatello's own interests in the Classical, since the statue could represent David, or the Greek god Hermes triumphing over the older god Argus Panoptes (who was also killed by a blow to the head with a stone). Michelangelo's David, continued the tradition set by Donatello and Brunelleschi, while adding to it the unique ideas of Michelangelo, regarding art. [...]

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