Venice Italy is best known today for its culture and romantic canals. With the exotic way the city was construction and the backdrop of the ever-changing light caused by the waters of the canals, it has been romantically portrayed in many paintings, plays, movies, songs and operas. The once city state was a major trading empire. Located on the north end of the Adriatic Sea it was ideal for merchant shipping. Specializing in trade with the Byzantine Empire and the eastern world, Venice established a stable and prosperous economy. This naturally created and attracted a wealthy population. With this wealth people could afford many luxuries like art creating a thriving artists population. The style of Venetian art spanning two centuries during the renaissance was directly affected by the trade industry.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the population of Venice was broken down into three castes: nobili, cittadini and popolani. (P. F. Brown 1997) The nobili, or the ruling oligarchy consisted of men with varying levels of wealth. Some were even merchants. From the very wealthy to the near impoverished, the nobili were equals if only in the political realm. A majority of the cittadini, citizens, like the nobili, were involved in the mercantile industry in one way or another. Many even amassed great wealth in a relatively short amount of time. The rest of the population, the popolani, was considered to be on the lowest level on the social category but not necessarily on the wealth category. These consisted of but not limited to: artisans, craftsmen, mariners and wealthy foreigners. During this period there was great wealth flowing around the area. Venice was a major connection and seafaring powerhouse from the eastern world, such as modern...
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A Closer Examination of Paolo Sarpi and the Uses of Information in the Seventeenth-Century Venice
Florence, Italy was a city just like any other during the Renaissance. It was city of 50,000 people, less than there were in Paris and Venice but more than most other European cities. The busiest parts of the city were the Ponte Vecchio, a place lined with markets and houses, the neighborhood of the Orsanmichele and Mercato Vecchio, or the Old Market. Florence was a place of beauty and leisure. A Venetian visitor once said, “There is in my opinion no region more sweeter than that wherein Florence is a placed for Florence is situated in a plain surrounded on all sides by hills and mountains…And the hills are fertile cultivated, pleasant…” (Unger, pg. 1). Florence was a very prosperous city; it made fortunes off of wool and banking trades. A certain Florentine family contributed to the vast wealth as well. The Medici family was no doubt the foundation of prosperity for Florence.
Baxandall, Michael. “Conditions of Trade.” Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
..." In Daily life in medieval times. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1999. 21
When studying the High Renaissance in Italy, it is certainly no surprise to me as to why the period is considered to have the greatest pieces of art in the Western world. Artists such as Michelangelo, DA Vinci, and Raphael etc…are widely considered to be the world’s greatest at their craft, in any century or period. In the 16th century the center for Renaissance artists shifted from Florence to Rome. Almost every great name during the period went to Rome either to work on projects for the papacy or the nobility. As our text states, “the modern notion of the ‘fine arts’ and the exaltation of the artist – genius originated in Renaissance Italy” (Kleiner F.S p. 488). Indeed, the works of the period are master works…pieces that challenge our understanding of art itself. The Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo, The Mona Lisa by DA Vinci, and Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael are the foundations and examples of genius and greatness.
The Italian Renaissance was a result of many events that lead to one another. Even the least expected events, like the Black Death, contributed to the rise of the Renaissance. It’s greatness has been admired since the end of the Renaissance. It spurred fine arts and magnificent churches. New ideas surged and spread. It was a cultural evolution the defined the modern age. The Italian Renaissance is known throughout the world and will always be remembered. Due to it’s magnificence, it is hard to believe that one of the main causes, humanism, was a mere idea. To list all of the factors of the Renaissance is impossible, however the big causes include the Black Death, humanism, and patronage.
In the entire scope of history there are few civilizations that have left their own unique imprint upon the rest of the world as well as influencing future generations like the city of Florence. Only a handful of nations can claim the cultural, financial, social, and artistic accomplishments that this city can. Throughout the history of approximately three thousand years Florence has proven to be an impressively resilient civilization that takes pride in itself and has been a leader in Italy and worldwide. From the founding Etruscan people, to Dante and Boccaccio, to the Medici family the Florentine people have proven themselves to be remarkable in many areas of life. This paper will trace the different stages of the Florentine civilization from its foundations, to its emergence from the Middle Ages, to the period of the Renaissance, and finally to its transition to become part of the nation of Italy.