Critical Thinking

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The name renaissance is given to the period of European history from the 14th century. It is derived from a French word which means rebirth. It was a rebirth of learning from ancient Rome and Greece. The Renaissance is seen as a period of rebirth from the Dark Ages of Europe to the more enlightened and progressive ages of Europe.It could also have meant the rebirth of curiosity, creativity or culture. At the midpoint of the Renaissance was the belief in the unlimited possibilities of humans.There was more focus on humanism rather than spiritual figures. Humanism developed as a reaction to the stiff and limited teachings of the medieval period, which promoted the education of a small portion of the population in preparation for becoming successful. Humanists believed that the path to this could be found through the study of the humanity. The Renaissance period still saw real problems, such as religious wars, political corruption, inequality, witch-hunts and corrupt Borgia Popes – “The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race”. E. M. Forster. Most people who lived through the Renaissance did not view it as a ‘Golden Era’. The Black Death destroyed a large part of the population of Europe in the 14th Century but left survivors with relatively more wealth which led to a decline of feudalism. Also, new political structures led to new political order led to the patronage of the powerful and wealthy Medici family in Florence, who could afford to give commissions to artists.Leonardo da Vinci was well known during the Renaissance period because he was an artist, anatomist, inventor and also an engineer. Da Vinci was a perfect example of the “Renaissance man” whose achievements and interests were in a variety of fields in art, literature, and art.”Leonardo da Vinci.” History.com. He invented the diving bell and tank, though they couldn’t be built with the materials of the time. He also made important discoveries about the structure of the human body and, his sketches of flight machines gave people the idea to create airplanes. Da Vinci was known to be the most styled artist of the Renaissance.  Leonardo’s paintings could easily be related to the early renaissance in terms of composition, perspective as well as emotional reaction. Leonardo always tried to incorporate movement.In 1469, Leonardo moved with his father to Florence, where he became an apprentice to the painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. A few years later, he painted a beautiful angel that made Verrocchio quit painting for good. “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return” – Da Vinci. Andrea del Verrocchio gave up his career as a painter because he suffered humiliation by being out-painted by his own student. In 1482, he left Florence to enter the house of Ludovico Sforza to be employed as an architecture and military engineering advisor as well as a painter and sculptor. “The Last Supper” and “Vitruvian Man” are among his most influential works ever created. He achieved greatness through observation and self-confidence. He always took his time to make sure he solved problems he had and his works helped spread education around the world. “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions” – Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci’s last supper is a renaissance masterpiece, though it is one which struggled to survive over years. He painted it using an oil mix and applied it to a drywall because he wanted to capture the look of an oil painting but even within his lifetime, it began to deteriorate – “it is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end” – Da Vinci. The last supper represents the seconds in the story after Christ told his disciples that one of them would betray him before sunrise and all twelve disciples reacted with different degrees of anger, shock, and horror. it captured Jesus’ famous declaration “Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me”(Matthew 26:21). Although the last supper was religiously themed, it was the opposite of the middle ages when only spiritual figures were drawn. The painting took three years to complete and it motivated other artists to copy the format of the painting as it serves as a way of comparing arts between the time periods because of the details associated with it.