Early Renaissance in Italy: 1400s

The engineering of Brunelleschi’s dome, the naturalism of Donatello’s David, and the humanism of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus each help define the Early Renaissance in Italy, which gets going in the early years of 15th century in Florence. In this period, Florence is not a city in the unified country of Italy, as it is now. Instead, Italy was divided into many city-states (Florence, Milan, Venice etc.), each with their own government (some were ruled by despots, and others were republics).

veduta grid
Humanism looked to antiquity for inspiration in reforming society and had a tremendous impact on all aspects of life in renaissance Italy—and Europe more broadly—from government to the arts.

Humanism in renaissance Italy

Leon Battista Alberti, Sant’Andrea in Mantua
Eager to serve the interests of their classically-inclined patrons and to demonstrate their own ingenuity, visual artists explored new approaches to form inspired by surviving art and architecture from antiquity as well as ancient authors’ discussions of them.

Humanism in Italian renaissance art

The Ascension of Christ (detail) from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese, attributed to Pacino di Bonaguida, about 1340, tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment. Los Angeles, Getty Museum, Ms. 80a (2005.26), verso https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/225262/pacino-di-bonaguida-leaf-from-the-laudario-of-sant'agnese-italian-about-1340/ 
The Laudario of Sant'Agnese is one of the most important examples of early Renaissance illumination and it was decorated by two of the most sought-after workshops at the time.

Laudario of Sant’Agnese