From The Middle Ages through the Renaissance

The Renaissance period had a great influence on culture and mostly artworks by different artists. I have chosen the incredible works by Michelangelo and Raphael. The Genesis Fresco by Michelangelo (1475-1564) dated 1508-12 and The School of Athens by Raphael (1483-1520) dated 1509- 11 are both found in the Vatican Museum. The former is located in the Sistine Chapel Ceiling while the latter is located in the Signature Room.

Both paintings are in two dimensions and display a visual expression. Michelangelo uses vividly bold colours on painting the figures in his work while Raphael employs the Renaissance colour palette in which he highlights certain characters. This serves well in catching the viewer’s attention (Nesselrath, 1996 p. 43). From Michelangelo’s work one can see brushwork expressed in the shade and detail and on the textured surfaces (Graham-Dixon, 2008 p. 63). One can see the use of lines in both works and the profound linear perspective creates an amazing impression of depth. Both works display a balance in the figures position.

The paintings are murals and they exhibit the fresco technique where the execution is on lime plaster which is freshly laid. In this technique the painting becomes an essential part of the wall since water is used as a medium to hold the pigment. After a few hours the wet plaster absorbs the pigment then it dries up reacting with the air. This is how the pigment particles are stabilized in the plaster. Grendler (2009) noted that this technique was highly used in the Renaissance period and can trace its originality back then.

They are both High Renaissance paintings although Michelangelo’s work is a religious history painting while Raphael’s is on the Renaissance in Rome. Both paintings are representational. Michelangelo uses scenes and figures from the Classical mythology and the Old Testament and some events from the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Raphael’s work integrates the Greek and Christian thinking. The worldly and spiritual thoughts are classical inspirations. The painting is of a massive Basilica which has lacunar ceilings and pillars, a crowd of philosophers, statues of Minerva and Apollo and ancient wise men (Nesselrath, 1996).

Michelangelo’s work majorly contains nine parts which express the principle of humankind’s need for redemption from God through Jesus Christ. All the parts include a theatrical story from the Bible. They illustrate how the light separated from the darkness, the creation of the sun, moon and planets, how the land and water separated, the creation of Adam, the creation of Eve, how Adam and Eve were tempted and expelled, the sacrifice of Noah, the flood and the drunkenness of Noah (Graham-Dixon, 2008 p. 69).

These images are categorically arranged to narrate the story of how perfectly the world was created by God but mankind sinned. Consequently humanity was punished by being separated from God through the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Subsequently mankind sinned and God reprimanded humanity by the Great Flood. Michelangelo also used non biblical figures so as to present the religious and humanist features in a way that does not create conflicts visually (Graham-Dixon, 2008 p. 75).

Raphael’s work mainly expresses philosophy depicted by his use of figures of philosophers. In the midst of other philosophers are Plato and Aristotle. The scene shows ancient Greece and it signifies the wisdom of classical ancientness. Specific figures embodied Music, Arithmetic, and Grammar while other figures personified Astronomy, Geometry, Dialectic and Rhetoric (Nesselrath, 1996 p. 156). Raphael uses the painting encourage philosophy and it acts as a pictorial representation in inspiring people to seek vast knowledge.

Both works of art were ordered by Pope Julius II so as to decorate the Vatican. These works perfectly executed the relation between Middle Ages and Modern Age since they show a clear rekindling of ancientness incorporated into the regeneration of the European Culture which renaissance was all about. Renaissance brought out scientific revolution which is depicted in the Humanity theme by Michelangelo and Philosophy theme by Raphael.

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