Everything from proportion to color was considered to achieve the desired effect of realism. According to Noble, artists developed new techniques to give paintings a more three-dimensional, life-like quality, and commonly studied human and animal anatomy in efforts to better understand their subjects (6). These artists enjoyed the patronage of the wealthy, but they were not granted complete artistic freedom. Even though humanism was at its peak, the theme of the arts still leaned towards religion (Noble 6). The artists could only manifest freedom in terms of style and technique.
The artistic pioneers of that time included Giotto di Bondone, Massacio, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello. Giotto was the first important artist; it was his study of nature that rendered realistic facial expressions in his paintings (Noble 6), which served as the benchmark for the periods realistic techniques. Massacio is known for his Bible-inspired work, The Tribute Money. Ghiberti was the leading name in architecture; he designed and sculpted bronze doors, which was embellished with scenes from the Bible, for the Baptistry (Noble 6).
In terms of sculpture, Donatello was the most important artist. He was responsible for David, the first freestanding nude figure sculpted since the Roman era (Noble 6). If the early Renaissance artists paved the way for new techniques and styles in creating arts, it was the High Renaissance artists who mastered these said techniques (Noble 7), bringing the creation of art to new heights. There might have been an improvement in method, but the subject matter remains the same. The arts of the High Renaissance was still controlled by the Church.
However, the works of Leonardo began to manifest a strong leaning toward extreme humanism, which marked the beginning of change (Noble 7). In the High Renaissance, there were three dominant artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael. Da Vincis works include the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and Lady with an Ermine (Artcyclopedia 1). Michaelangelo, on the other hand, is famous for the artwork in the Sistine Chapel (Artcyclopedia 2). Raphael were responsible for such paintings as Saint George and the Dragon, and The Small Cowper Madonna (Artcyclopedia 3).
In conclusion, the early Renaissance and High Renaissance only differed in two points: first, they occurred in different locations; second, while the early Renaissance artists created the techniques, the High Renaissance artists perfected them. Moreover, the two phases shared a similarity: the theme of religion despite the humanistic atmosphere.
Artcyclopedia. 2007. 17 Dec. 2007