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Unit 3 (2nd half): c. 200 - 1750 CE

Early Europe and Colonial America

Images 73-83; 85-97

Main Ideas:

  • As different cultural and intellectual movements sprung throughout Europe, artists sought to depict God in their artworks in different ways

  • As different entities (such as the Catholic Church, French monarchy, Spanish monarchy in America, etc.) sought to expand their power, they commissioned artworks that glorified their power

800px-The_Calling_of_Saint_Matthew-Caravaggo_(1599-1600) (1).jpeg

Cinquecento Art

  • Northern Cinquecento: Depicted religious scenes and scenes from daily life in a naturalistic and aesthetic way to allow people to learn valuable lessons from them
  • Southern Cinquecento: Continued the revival of classical & pagan ideals, but focused more on creating a more aesthetic image than simply on realism & perspective

Image 74: Adam and Eve



Adam and Eve


Albrecht D​ürer


1504 CE



  • Uses weird contradictions to showcase the balance of the 4 humors (white bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood) right before Eve committed the original sin
    • Before modern medical practices, doctors believed our body had 4 humors (listed above), and any illnesses were caused by an imbalance in those humors

    • The bodies are in contrapposto even though they appear twisted

    • The little sign (top left) is in Latin and says the artist is from Nuremberg, but Latin was not common there

    • Tree’s roots look unreal

    • Eve (right) plucks an apple from a fig tree

    • A parrot perches on a tree even though parrots are tropical birds

    • Six animals stroll through the scene, which is very uncommon (since those 6 animals don't appear together often)

      • 4 of the animals represent the 4 humors are in balance (instead of having one dominant humor)

      • Parrot represents the influence of Virgin Mary (which goes away when Eve commits her original sin)

    • This engraving is very complex → Represents the skill of the engraver (Dürer)

    • Dürer uses Vitruvian ideals of symmetry

      • A type of naturalism/realism where the proportions of a person's body are used to determine the sizes and proportions of other objects (of natural proportion perfection)​

    • Likely meant to teach us to keep our 4 humors in balance, regardless of the extreme measures we have to take

Image 77: Isenheim Altarpiece



Isenheim Altarpiece


Matthias Grünewald


c. 1512 - 1516 CE


Oil on wood

  • Christ shows naturalistic depictions of himself in various positions to empathize with the patients suffering from ergotism
    • This altarpiece was hung in the Isenheim hospital for patients with ergotism (a skin disease)
    • Frontside: Christ himself is suffering from ergotism while crucified → Represents the idea that Christ sympathize with those suffering from ergotism at the Isenheim hospital
      • Christ is depicted in a naturalistic fashion to show that he's a normal human just like us → Easier for patients to empathize with him​
      • St. Anthony is on the rightmost panel, and he is known to help cure ergotism → His presence gives hope to the patients
    • Backside: Shows Christ's life story to show that miracles can save the lives of people suffering from ergotism (like Christ himself was)​​
      • Annunciation (left side); Resurrection (right side); Lamentation (bottom panel)​
      • Christ was suffering from ergotism (on the frontside), and here he shares his life story to inspire other ergotism patients that it is possible to recover from ergotism and live a happy life

Image 79: Allegory of Law and Grace



Allegory of Law and Grace


Lucas Cranach the Elder


c. 1530 CE


Woodcut and letterpress

  • Contrast between left (law) and right (gospel) side shows a contrast between Catholicism and Martin Luther’s (Protestant) views → Encourages us to support Protestantism
    • Left Side:

      • Dead tree

      • Skeleton and demon frighten a man as a prophet points strictly to the law (which involves doing good deeds to satisfy God)

      • Law leads to hell if mistaken for faith because law (without gospel) isn’t path to salvation

    • Right Side:

      • Healthy tree

      • John the Baptist directs man to Christ on the cross → Shows that if people submit to God’s will, they can achieve salvation

    • 6 columns of Bible at the bottom → Emphasizes Luther’s belief that the Bible alone, and not doing good deeds or donating money, will help you achieve salvation

Image 83: Hunters in the Snow

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Hunters in the Snow


Pieter Bruegel the Elder


1565 CE


Oil on wood

  • Represents a contrast (between harsh/stressed and playful) in the daily lives of Northern Europeans during winter → Teaches us that it is possible to have fun in wintertime
    • Harsh/stresses: The hunters cannot find many animals to hunt

      • Their backs are turned to us, we see little of their faces or the colors of their clothing → Emphasizes their despair at not finding any animal to hunt

      • One guy has caught a rabbit, but no one else has caught anything

    • Playfulness: The children playing in the pond (right side)

    • This is a literary narrative

      • Our eyes are guided from the stressed part of the image (the hunters at the bottom left) down the hill to the playful part (with the children playing in the pond in the right center)

    • The lesson is that although wintertime can come with stresses (such as lack of food), it is possible to have fun (like the children playing in the snow)

Image 73: Last Supper



Last Supper


Part of Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy


Leonardo da Vinci


c. 1494 - 1498 CE


Oil and tempera

  • Uses simplistic imagery to showcase the spirituality of Jesus and his 12 apostles
    • References the Last Supper of Christ: Jesus's final meal with his 12 apostles before Judas (the 3rd guy to Christ’s left) identifies Christ to the authorities as a Jewish priest (rabbi) → Christ is later arrested

    • Jesus’s body (center) is like a perfect equilateral triangle → Represents the perfect geometry of the spiritual world

      • These ideal human forms represent a revival (Renaissance) of Plato’s belief in perfect geometry

    • The painting could be a halo for the divine figures (Jesus & his 12 apostles), and the table could be separating the earthly humans (us) from the divine figures

    • Uses linear perspective to showcase the geometric perfection of the divine figures

Image 75: Sistine Chapel Ceiling and Altar Wall Frescoes



Sistine Chapel ceiling and altar wall frescoes


Vatican City




Ceiling frescoes: c. 1508 - 1512 CE
Altar frescoes: c. 1536 - 1541 CE



  • Ceiling Fresco: Represents the Old Testament scenes of the origins of the world
    • Left to right: Creation of the heavens (sun, water, planets, etc.), Creation of Adam and Eve, Expulsion from Garden of Eden, Noah’s Flood

    • Surrounded by nude figures and apostles → Gives more importance/divinity to this story

    • Showcases the figures in their own space in a richly-colored way → Makes it easier for us to understand the emotional intensity of each scene when looking at the ceiling from the floor

      • Allows us to better understand and feel the creation of the universe through the ceiling's paintings​

  • The Deluge (flood): Has 4 scenes about people suffering from a flood → Represents God’s justice in wiping out the entire population due to the sins of the wicked
    • Right: People take shelter from rain

    • Left: People climb a mountain to escape rising sea levels

    • Center: A boat capsizes

    • Top: People attempt to build Noah's ark to survive the flood

    • Difficult to convey emotion due to presence of a large number of figures and actions → Represents more realism/naturalism

  • The Delphic Sybil: Uses spiritual imagery and humanistic elements to show a combination of divinity and realism
    • Delphic Sybil is a female prophet from in Ancient Greece that helps people worship Gaia, the mother goddess connected with fertility

      • Hence, this is a revival of classical (pagan) mythology, which is a key part of the Renaissance​

    • Spiritual imagery: Circular body represents a halo

    • Humanistic imagery: Harmony of proportion, contrapposto, an imposing left elbow and knee, elaborate drapery → Power and virtue

    • This combination of divinity & realism is common in the Renaissance as many divine figures were depicted more human-like

    • Does not cluster many people and only shows one main figure → Easier to comprehend emotionally, allowing us to empathize and connect with the figure due to her realist depiction

  • The Last Judgement: Shows the scene where Christ determines who'll go to heaven & hell
    • Its prominent location on the main front wall of the chapel highlights the importance of doing good deeds to end up on Jesus' good side (so that we can eventually go to heaven)

Image 76: School of Athens



School of Athens




1509 - 1511 CE



  • Represents all the knowledge of Greek/Roman times that’s being revived now in the Renaissance → Encourages us to learn from that knowledge
    • Center left (with red tunic): Plato

      • Points upward because his philosophy is that there exists a higher true ultimate reality that is the seat of all truth, beauty, justice, and wisdom

        • More abstract philosophy

    • Center right (with blue tunic): Aristotle

      • Holds his hand down because he believes that the only reality in the world is what we can see and experience ourselves → Believes in the justice and government of the human world

        • More experimental/practical philosophy

    • Lower left (with a beard looking at his book): Pythagoras

      • Believed the world operated in harmony with mathematical laws; were related to ideas of musical and cosmic harmony → Perfection of God

      • Planets all move in perfect harmony

    • Lower right (back turned, yellow tunic): Ptolemy

      • Holds a sphere of the Earth: Promoted the model where all planets orbit around the Earth (geocentric); Tried to prove it as well, which was a bit difficult

    • Raphael included a self-portrait of himself (next to Ptolemy)

    • Showcased within a large Roman arch, and we see many other Roman arches and Roman sculptures → Emphasizes the classical ideals of the past and encourages us to learn from them

Image 78: Entombment of Christ



Entombment of Christ


Jacopo da Pontormo


1525 - 1528 CE


Oil on wood

  • Depicts the Lamentation of Christ in a mannerist style
    • Mannerism: A style that emerged in the Late Renaissance that still depicts figures in a realistic way but organizes them in a way that emphasizes our emotion when looking at the artwork rather than the image's natural state

      • Here, the bodies are arranged in a circular way in an exaggerated manner → When we look at it, our eyes cannot come to rest (because it's arranged like a circle), so we cannot escape the sense of sadness created by the artwork

    • No illusion of space, no linear perspective, no perfect anatomy, etc.

    • Overexaggerated emotions and bodies

Image 80: Venus of Urbino



Venus of Urbino




c. 1538 CE


Oil on canvas

  • Uses softness, exaggeration of the torso, and direct gaze to emphasize the woman’s beauty and sensuality
    • Direct gaze → Emphasizes her strength

    • This type of oil paint glaze was very soft → Showcases the sensuality of her body

    • Chiaroscuro emphasizes her sensuality and realism

    • Mannerism: Body is slightly longer than in proportion with legs and feet → Emphasizes her body’s beauty

    • Nudeness (and relaxation from reclining) emphasizes sensuality

Baroque Art

  • Southern Baroque: Depicted religious scenes in a grand majestic way to showcase how anyone can go to heaven in order to encourage Protestants to convert back to Catholicism
  • Northern Baroque: Focused more on achieving spiritual enlightenment through everyday objects and scenes from daily life by depicting lots of drama, dynamism, and emotional exuberance between people
  • French Classicism: Used a mix of classical ideals (from Ancient Greece & Rome) and baroque ideals (ornate swirly decorations) to allude to France's renewed intellectual and physical power

Image 82: Il Gesú, including Triumph in the Name of Jesus ceiling fresco



Il Gesú, including Triumph in the Name of Jesus ceiling fresco


Rome, Italy


Plan: Giacomo da Vignola
Facade: Giacomo della Porta
Ceiling Fresco: Giovanni Battista Gaulli


Church: 16th Century CE
Facade: 1568 - 1584 CE
Fresco & Stucco figures: 1676 - 1679 CE


Brick, marble, fresco, and stucco

  • The church interior & ceiling fresco seek to showcase the spiritual power of Jesus by making God appear closer to us
    • Outside facade: Very simple, juxtaposes with the heavenly & majestic feel of the interior​

    • Church interior: The altar appears much closer to the people than in other rectilinear churches (like Santa Sabina, Image 49) → Seems like God is closer to us

      • Wide nave, no side aisles, and the alter is pushed closer to the sitting area → God is closer to us​

      • Has a big imposing dome above the sitting area (like Pantheon & Hagia Sophia) → People already feel a spiritual connection to heaven (through the dome) while sitting in the nave)​

    • Ceiling Fresco (Triumph in the Name of Jesus): Emphasizes Jesus's power in helping us achieve salvation → Attempts to regain followers who had converted to Protestantism

      • Jesus is surrounded by a golden divine light, and angels are around him → Emphasize his spiritual power​

      • Allows for a more personal interactive experience with God in contrast with the bustling streets of Rome

Image 85: Calling of Saint Matthew

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