The Renaissance period began in the late 14th century in Italy. Renaissance artists looked back at the ancient history of Greece and Rome and, therefore, captured humanism and the beauty of the natural world in their works (Renaissance Art, 2010). Many of the compositions depicted religious images, which often were used for devotions. The greatest artists of the Renaissance period are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael (Renaissance Art, 2010). Furthermore, countless works of this period illustrate members of rich families. Numerous portraits of the modest women and confident men in soft, wealthy garments are the indicators of the trend. Aristocratism and proper education were overvalued (Renaissance Art, 2010). Moreover, beautiful, white, almost porcelain skin and partial, sometimes even full nudity were the new standards both in paintings and sculpture. All in all, the Renaissance period created a new perfect icon – the “Renaissance man”. He was educated, talented, mastered all possible arts and studied all sciences, was wealthy and loved himself (Renaissance Art, 2010). Therefore, this paper describes a visit to the National Gallery of Art with the purpose to analyze the works of Renaissance artists.
Even though most of the works are stored and exhibited in Italian museums and churches, there are some paintings that made their way to the USA. For example, the National Gallery of Art, located on the 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington D.C., offers a lot of fascinating works – both sculptures and paintings. The museum includes three buildings, the Sculpture Garden, The West Building and The East Building. On December 4th, 2014, at around 2 pm, a bunch of friends entered the West Building of the museum. A spacious building with high ceilings from the very beginning suggests the royal and gracious spirit of the gallery. Light, almost white walls, do not destruct from the pieces of art, but rather serve as highlights for them. The West Building offers an extensive collection of paintings from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Van Gough, Rembrandt, Jan van Eyck, Rubens, Manet, Picasso and many others are presented in the museum. Explicit collection does not only impress with its variety, but also with the quality of the paintings. Every work is a masterpiece and a part of the history. However, two particular paintings stood out: “Venus with a Mirror” by Titian and “Ginevra de’ Benci” by Leonardo da Vinci. Both works are unique and are not only the representations of the greatest artists, but also outstanding examples of the Renaissance art.
“Venus with a Mirror” is one of the most popular oil paintings of Titian. The composition shows a beautiful female with blond hair, light skin, red lips and blushed cheeks, half covered with a robe. Royal colors of the robe – gold and dark red – emphasize the fact that she is a goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Moreover, the artist illustrates two little cupids who take care of Venus. One of them is placing a crown on her, when another one is holding a mirror. The mirror is one of the elements that artists often used in the Renaissance period. It is a symbol of love to yourself and enjoyment of your self-reflection. The partial nudity of the model is another characteristic of the Renaissance period. Finally, the use of oil paintings was also a new idea, which later became a common tradition. “Venus with a Mirror” is a distinct example of the Renaissance period and Titian’s talent.
“Ginevra de’ Benci” is an oil painting from 1474-1478. It is an early work of Leonardo da Vinci. A portrait of young Ginevra de’ Benci has similar characteristics to Venus in Titian’s painting. She has flawless light skin and reserved look. Her garments emphasize her modesty, but at the same time hints at her education. Moreover, da Vinci offers a three-quarter angle of the girl, which will become very popular at the peak of Renaissance. The artist’s work in this portrait is flawless and perfect. All lines, colors and scenes are connected in one tight circle. Ginevra de’ Benci seems perfect and alive.
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All things considered, Renaissance is one of the most vital art periods in the history. It changed the way artist thought. Moreover, it proposed a new prism of colors, materials and ideas in art. It has been inspiring and catching breath of the spectators for many centuries. However, it still remains an inspiration for the contemporary artists. The National Gallery of Art has an extensive collection of the most famous artists of the Renaissance period. The gallery has something to offer for each and every visitor. The collections exhibited in the magnificent royal halls of the building inspire, uplift and move the visitors. The gallery amazes by the amount of original works and masterpieces presented. It is one of the most extraordinary museums that are worth visiting.
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