Humanism in Renaissance Painting

Humanism in Renaissance Painting
Description of Humanism in Renaissance Painting

The purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate the connection between humanist philosophy and renaissance pictorial style (i.e. content and form, respectively).

After reading the The Ascent to Mount Ventoux by Petrarch view the renaissance painting collection at the Getty Center online at (below are links to specific paintings you can choose from to make the search easier, but you can choose another artwork in their collection as long as it is European and done between 1400-1575). In your reading of Petrarch’s letter, highlight passages that reflect his view of nature. How does Petrarch describe his observations/experiences and how does his verbal description parallel the way in which renaissance artists depicted nature?

In a way, this is a compare/contrast paper in that you are looking for verbal and visual cues that relate to humanism.

Content of Humanism in Renaissance Painting Paper: Analyze one or two paintings that include landscape from the permanent collection. Choose artworks that seem to relate to Petrarch’s message and use the following guidelines for Humanism in Renaissance Painting.

1. Give the artwork’s title, date, and artist in the body of your paper. (Date should be no later than 1575.) Again, make sure the artwork(s) you choose are not so early that they have a gold background –we’re looking for landscape background. Pure landscape, without people or a narrative, does not exist yet in European art

2. Cite the highlighted passages from Petrarch’s letter and relate them to the specific characteristics of the artworks. This means you will document the passages you refer to by giving author and paragraph number, eg: (Petrarch, pars. 3).

3. Describe applicable characteristics of form such as spatial effects, atmosphere, use of perspective, vantage point, light, and details of nature.

4. Identify how both the reading and the artwork express a humanist point of view. Optional: you could go further and identify how both the reading and the artwork express a synthesis of various renaissance ideologies (Plato/Aristotle).

5. Identify and characterize the relationship between humans and nature as is evidenced in both the reading and the chosen artwork.

Format: 3-4 pages in length not including pictures or Works Cited. MLA – double spaced with one inch margins. Use only 12 point Times New Roman font. The title of an artwork should be italicized or underlined. All images, if used, should be placed at the end of the paper with the title, artist and date underneath the picture.

Documentation: You must give a citation for the passages of Petrarch you use. This can easily be done using parenthetical citations (Petrarch, pars. 2) which refer the reader to a Works Cited page. No outside research is required for this assignment. However, if you do look up information, even on the museum websites, then that info must also be documented using parenthetical citations AND be put on the Works Cited page. Normally, paraphrasing is generally seen as better practice than giving direct quotes, but Petrarch’s way of speaking is so particular, that it is reasonable to use direct quotes in this paper.


Possible Paintings from the Getty Center to use for Humanism/Petrarch paper (remember no more than 2 works):

Hunting on the Lagoon, Vittore Carpaccio, 1490-1495 (Links to an external site.)

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint John the Baptist, Fra Bartolommeo, 1509 (Links to an external site.)

The Story of Joseph, Biagio d’Antonio, 1485’antonio-the-story-of-joseph-italian-about-1485/ (Links to an external site.)

Madonna and Child, Lorenzo di Credi, 1490-1500’andrea-d’oderigo-madonna-and-child-italian-about-1490-1500/ (Links to an external site.)

Venus and Adonis, Titian, 1555-60 (Links to an external site.)

A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion, Lucas Cranach, 1526 (Links to an external site.)

Madonna Adoring the Child with Musical Angles, Bernardino Zenale, 1502 (Links to an external site.)

St. Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, 1530s (Links to an external site.)

Christ on the Cross with Saints Mary, John the Evangelist, and Catherine of Sienna, Marco Pino, 1570 (Links to an external site.)

Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Mary Madgdalene, Parmigianino, 1535-40 (Links to an external site.)

The Crucifixion, Dreux Budé Master, before 1450’ypres-the-crucifixion-french-before-1450/ (Links to an external site.)

Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist, Bronzino, 1540-45 (Links to an external site.)

The Penitent Magdalene, Titian, 1555-65 (Links to an external site.)

Pieta, Circle of Fernando Gallego, 1490-1500 (Links to an external site.)

The Holy Family, Giulio Romano, 1520-23 (Links to an external site.)

Madonna and Child with Two Donors, Lorenzo Lotto, 1525-39=0 (Links to an external site.)

The Dream of Pope Sergius, workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, 1430s (Links to an external site.)
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