The Middle Ages saw how the Bubonic plague killed almost a third of Europe’s population. Illness and much death inspired the people of Europe to strive hard and start rebuilding again. In rebuilding activities, came the renaissance which is also known as “rebirth”. Through commerce and much trade, a new middle class emerged that supported skilled artisan. As the population grew in size, culture flourished. Renaissance art soon evolved and found its way in being the most unforgettable highlights in the history of modern man.
From the need of rebirth, art through the development of culture was assisted by technology. It was in 1445 when Guttenberg invented the printing press. This piece of invention changed the lives of people in all of Europe. With books printed and mass produced, more people became literate and aware of the many subjects including science, religion and art. A new middle class emerged, an educated middle class. The educated middle class who had money started to fund activities which included art. These activities were organized very well.
Florence in 1425 was populated by 60,000 Europeans and was a very self-sustaining independent city state. Artist guilds flourished in the city. At least twelve artist guilds managed the trade that helped make Florence a place of commercial bustle. Guilds were supported by wealthy members of commerce and politics. Many influential people controlled the guilds, all for the welfare and development of the city state. These guilds were organized for textile, banks, masons, builders, sculptors, lawyers and solicitors.
As for renaissance art in the form of painting, masters and masterpieces did not come from smoke. These forms of culture were painstakingly nurtured by the bustling culture of the renaissance. Painters and maestros were hired by wealthy people to paint from portraits to big murals. Painting, before it became high art was a way of sustenance to hundreds of artists. Some artists would be housed by the Kings and Queens themselves to paint only for the royal family and draw numerous activities of the family. In the seventeenth century, painting was not a matter of inspiration, of waiting for a whisper from Lady Inspiration. A seventeenth century painter was a tradesman, who painted just as another man baked bread or made cupboards. And for such a trade, an apprenticeship was necessary. The guilds had all made definite rules about that. The painters’ guild, St. Luke’s had stipulated that a painter had to be a pupil for the length of three years before he could call himself a master. He could sell it under his own name.
Only after his period of training could a painter sign his own work himself, or sell it under his own name, and then was also bound to pay contributions to the guild. ” (Haughan, 1973) It is only now that these masters, after their deaths have been able to price their pieces high. During the renaissance not all painters enjoyed the richness that their benefactors had. “Ugo was a master woodblock artist of the Renaissance, but he never became a household name like Michelangelo or Leonardo. Just like actors or athletes today, most Renaissance artists labored in obscurity their entire lives.
Artists were tradesmen—like carpenters or stonemasons. But through sheer force of talent, this began to change during the Renaissance. ” (…, 2006). All masters of art started from being apprentices where they had to start their work with sweeping the floor and running errands for the maestro before they were able to hold paint brushes. The most powerful guilds were the textile workers and painting was just another craft. In 1299, the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence was constructed. 5,000 guild members would gather in this place and discuss and vote on issues concerning the city and its development.
These art forms were as important in the sustainability and development of the renaissance as part of culture. Renaissance art later evolved into High Renaissance art with the help of the whole of Europe’s support for the arts. Included in High Renaissance art were big names such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Boticelli, and Raphael. Renaissance was an important time for artists because the culture nurtured their crafts, explorations and way of life. Through the artists’ guilds, art as both craft, way of life and inspiration to the modern world continued to develop.