The High Renaissance in Italy

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Primavera by Sandro Boticelli

Wonderful Florence met the end of its Renaissance heyday in the 1490s for several reasons. First, Lorenzo de Medici – arguably the greatest of the Medici – died in 1492. This brought a close to what is often referred to as the “Laurentian Age” in Florence.

Of equal importance, a rabidly religious monk named Savonarola was busy in Florence decrying the decadence of its art which, in his opinion, had caused moral decay and would, quite possibly, bring the Apocalypse upon the Florentines. As is always the sad case in instances such as these, many were willing to listen to Savonarola. The powerful Medici were expelled, fleeing to Rome. Savonarola inspired, for a time, great religious fervor in the townspeople, to the point of organizing the first “bonfire of the vanities”, wherein “sacrilegious” items were burned in public. Loyalty being fickle, Savonarola himself suffered a similar fate in 1498. The damage to Florence’s profile in the arts, however, had already been irreparably done.

Finally, the Florentine scene had made it incredibly chic for Those in Power (elsewhere) to acquire their own, personal artistic geniuses. Have you ever heard the phrase “keeping up with the Jones-es”? On a grand scale, at this time, many were keen to “keep up with” the Medici. The ranks of the Florentine artists were plundered, lured to other locations by promises of wealth and fame.

The good news is that, even though Florence was left with not much talent, it had already trained the talent that went elsewhere. In one of those ironic twists of fate, nearly all of the “greats” (excepting the Venetians, which is another topic entirely) of the High Renaissance were either trained in or influenced by the Florentine School.

Bidding Florence both huge thanks and a fond farewell, then, let’s get right down to defining the who-s, what-s and when-s of the “High” Renaissance.

Related Links:

• The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance
• Leonardo Da Vinci
• Michelangelo Buonarratti
• Raphael
• The Majesty of Sistine Chapel
• The High Renaissance in Italy
• Why is it Called High Renaissance?

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