Renaissance Art an Analysis Research Paper

Pages: 15 (4876 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Hilliard indicated, however, one of the necessary components of the miniature-portraiture, which was the fact that it should use as little shading as possible. Chiaroscuro in such a small frame would take away from the overall visual effect of the miniature. With such a focus on minute detail, the use of light and shade had to be as minimal as the size of the work itself. Rather, just as the poet had to focus his sights and limit himself to the aspect of the subject as it appeared in objective reality, Hilliard insisted that the artist show "the grace in countenance…and these stolen glances which suddenly like lightning pass" (Strong 23). The painter's eye, therefore, had to be as adept at catching the subtle nuances of character as the poet's had to be at catching the subtle meanings that hinge on a turn of a word.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Research Paper on Renaissance Art an Analysis of Assignment

There were many key differences between the English Catholics and the English Protestants of the 16th century (and onward) and both attempted to show themselves as upholders of the Christian Church. Edmund Campion went to his grave with his famous "Brag" having done its best against his persecutors. Elizabeth I went to hers in 1603: "She had done nothing to recognize her successor" as Evelyn Waugh (17) noted. Her father, the Catholic monarch Henry VIII, in 1521 had received from Pope Leo X the title of "Defender of the Faith" for his response to Luther's attack on the seven sacraments. Nonetheless, following a denial of a request for annulment five years later, Henry VIII would go on to declare himself Supreme Head of the English church in 1534. Many Catholics were faced with accepting the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Succession that followed or go to the gallows (as Thomas More and John Fisher did in 1535). 16th century England saw a split in the Catholic Church in England that had been in the works for some time. Thus, there was a significant difference between the two, which may be seen in Holbein's "speaking likenesses of Thomas More and his enemy Thomas Cromwell [who] gaze intently at each other across a fireplace" in the Frick Museum in New York (Johnson 302). But Holbein's miniatures were made in a different mold: they were more intimate and meant to be worn as jewels. In such a small frame, one could not tackle the larger subjects of religion and politics. In these Holbein, whom Hilliard considered the father of "the British school of miniature-painters" (Winter 266), had to address the more immediate issues of how to render a human likeness in painstaking detail. The same problem had to be addressed by both Shakespeare and Sidney in their sonnets. Indeed, Shakespeare would famously ask, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" As though the sheer thought of doing so in a sonnet were too much to ask.

The Poets' Love

Dante dedicated La vita nuova not to his wife but to Beatrice, his first love. Petrarch wrote his famous sonnets for Laura rather for the unnamed mother of his children. Sir Philip Sidney's sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella was for Penelope Devereaux, "and not his wife, Frances Walsingham," and the majority of Shakespeare's sonnets were to either a young man or a "dark lady" (Greenblatt 129). While each poet represented different aspects of love in art, from eros to agape, the theme of love in any form proved exceedingly popular throughout the Renaissance. At the end of the medieval world and the advent of the modern world, as religious, social, political and economic revolution occurred, the theme of love in poetry was an important bridge between the medieval and the modern.

But "as is poetry, so is painting," and the art of miniaturizing the complex world of the Renaissance in the 16th and 17th centuries became a way for the artist to prove himself. The painter's use of the pen and the poet's use of language were put to the test in a medium that demanded a lot in so little.

Sidney did not hesitate to state the resemblance between the nature of painting and the nature of poetry in his Defense of Poesy. He defined poetry as a "speaking picture," and echoed the sentiment of both Aristotle as well as what would be Hamlet's by stating that poetry "is an Art of Imitation…a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth to speake Metaphorically" (Hogan 9). This sentiment may also be seen in Sidney's "Loving in truth…" from Astrophel and Stella. Love was as connected to truth, as objective reflection in painting was connected to the accurate portrayal of real character.

And yet Sidney portrays a subjective character to love, as well. He anticipates the coming centuries in which the nature of art is transformed by the nature of the world around it; in which the forms and modes of expression of the old world are dispatched in favor of new forms of expression and new ideals. That Romance should follow naturally out of the demise of the medieval age and the establishment of Enlightenment ideology should be no surprise for those who understand that idealistic nature of the Enlightenment doctrine, divorced as it was from the rather objective sense of reality dictated by the ancients who came before. Sidney, while emphasizing and promoting objectivity in poetry as well as in painting, implies an altogether different object of his gaze in "Loving in truth…" Rather than looking outward, the poet looks inward, into his own heart, where he might find the proper verses that will speak of his love.

The first line of the sonnet states Sidney's problem in composing a sonnet on love: his verse does not match the truth of his love: "Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show." He is unable to set into words the feeling that he wishes to convey to his lover that she might know the extraordinary dimensions of his love. He looks elsewhere for inspiration: "of turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow / Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain," but fails to find the inspiration needed to fulfill his objective. Instead, he finally realizes, at the sounding of his Muse, to look within himself and therein find the appropriate words: "Fool,' said my Muse to me, 'look in thy heart, and write.'" The introversion of the gaze is significant: it shows that the lover in the new, modern world will not base his love on something real and tangible and good outside himself but rather on the "feelings" and ardor of his own heart. It is a subjective transference. Sidney sets the stage for the change in the nature of both art and love in the modern era.

His contemporary Shakespeare, however, approaches the nature of art and that nature of love in a different way. If Sidney approaches love subjectively, Shakespeare approaches it objectively, describing it in its various manifestations, from erotic to spiritual to fraternal kinds.

In Sonnet 129, for example, Shakespeare gives a harrowing description of sexual addiction removed from all love and propriety: "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame / Is lust in action; and till action, lust / Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame, / Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust… / Past reason hunted… / Past reason hated." Unlike Sidney's sonnet, this does not turn inward to find the words to give voice to passionate love, but rather looks outward at the effects of love -- specifically, at the effects of love that is not directed to a proper end.

This notion of love having a proper end is important in the sonnets of Shakespeare. It establishes and roots him in the medieval world, which held to the idea of first principles. Love, according to Augustine, and other ancients who helped set the foundation for medieval thought, came from God and was restless until it returned to God. Sin, as Shakespeare describes in Sonnet 129, was misplaced love -- love that was not directed ultimately to the God from which it emanated but rather inordinately to one of God's creations, rather lover or beloved. Love, in other words, had to be ordered, which is what Shakespeare implies in a Sonnet that objectively shows what happens when love is misdirected and given to lust.

However, Shakespeare could just as well show the other sides of love as well. He reflected the ironical aspect in the way lovers treat one another, through knowing and accepted flattery, through silly praises and humble acceptance.

In Sonnet 138, he presents a humorous admission of the lies we tell ourselves to keep the peace: "When my love swears that she is made of truth / I do believe her, though I know she… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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