ITALIAN PAINTING. THE HIGH RENAISSANCE—1500-1600.

Books Recommended: Those on Italian art before mentioned, and also, Berenson, Lorenzo Lotto; Clement, Michel Ange, L. da Vinci, Raphael; Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Titian; same authors, Raphael; Grimm, Michael Angelo; Gronau, Titian; Holroyd, Michael Angelo; Meyer, Correggio; Moore, Correggio; Muntz, Leonardo da Vinci; Passavant, Raphael; Pater, Studies in History of Renaissance; Phillips, Titian; Reumont, Andrea del Sarto; Ricci, Correggio; Richter, Leonardo di Vinci; Ridolfi, Vita di Paolo Cagliari Veronese; Springer, Rafael und Michel Angelo; Symonds, Michael Angelo; Taine, Italy—Florence and Venice.

THE HIGHEST DEVELOPMENT: The word "Renaissance" has a broader meaning than its strict etymology would imply. It was a "new birth," but something more than the revival of Greek learning and the study of nature entered into it. It was the grand consummation of Italian intelligence in many departments—the arrival at maturity of the Christian trained mind tempered by the philosophy of Greece, and the knowledge of the actual world. Fully aroused at last, the Italian intellect became inquisitive, inventive, scientific, skeptical—yes, treacherous, immoral, polluted. It questioned all things, doubted where it pleased, saturated itself with crime, corruption, and sensuality, yet bowed at the shrine of the beautiful and knelt at the altar of Christianity. It is an illustration of the contradictions that may exist when the intellectual, the religious, and the moral are brought together, with the intellectual in predominance.

FIG. 38.—FRA BARTOLOMMEO. DESCENT FROM CROSS. PITTI. 
FIG. 38.—FRA BARTOLOMMEO. DESCENT FROM CROSS. PITTI.

And that keen Renaissance intellect made swift progress. It remodelled the philosophy of Greece, and used its literature as a mould for its own. It developed Roman law and introduced modern science. The world without and the world within were rediscovered. Land and sea, starry sky and planetary system, were fixed upon the chart. Man himself, the animals, the planets, organic and inorganic life, the small things of the earth gave up their secrets. Inventions utilized all classes of products, commerce flourished, free cities were builded, universities arose, learning spread itself on the pages of newly invented books of print, and, perhaps, greatest of all, the arts arose on strong wings of life to the very highest altitude.

For the moral side of the Renaissance intellect it had its tastes and refinements, as shown in its high quality of art; but it also had its polluting and degrading features, as shown in its political and social life. Religion was visibly weakening though the ecclesiastical still held strong. People were forgetting the faith of the early days, and taking up with the material things about them. They were glorifying the human and exalting the natural. The story of Greece was being repeated in Italy. And out of this new worship came jewels of rarity and beauty, but out of it also came faithlessness, corruption, vice.

Strictly speaking, the Renaissance had been accomplished before the year 1500, but so great was its impetus that, in the arts at least, it extended half-way through the sixteenth century. Then it began to fail through exhaustion.

MOTIVES AND METHODS: The religious subject still held with the painters, but this subject in High-Renaissance days did not carry with it the religious feeling as in Gothic days. Art had grown to be something else than a teacher of the Bible. In the painter's hands it had come to mean beauty for its own sake—a picture beautiful for its form and color, regardless of its theme. This was the teaching of antique art, and the study of nature but increased the belief. A new love had arisen in the outer and visible world, and when the Church called for altar-pieces the painters painted their new love, christened it with a religious title, and handed it forth in the name of the old. Thus art began to free itself from Church domination and to live as an independent beauty. The general motive, then, of painting during the High Renaissance, though apparently religious from the subject, and in many cases still religious in feeling, was largely to show the beauty of form or color, in which religion, the antique, and the natural came in as modifying elements.