Rebuilding The Renaissance

Rebuilding The Renaissance

This podcast will explore the development of the art, architecture, culture and history in Italy, from ancient Roman times through the Renaissance. Listeners will develop an understanding of Italy’s role in the development of Western civilization and an ability to appreciate and understand works of art in their historical context.

Episodes

May 18, 2022 21 min

Although Raphael's fresco known as the "School of Athens" is the most celebrated painting of the Stanza della Segnatura, it is actually a part of a much larger program. This episode addresses the original function of the room, which was Pope Julius II's library, and how all of Raphael's paintings are in actuality part of a giant visual card catalog.

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This episode examines the extraordinary career of one of the most important painters in history – Raphael Sanzio da Urbino – better known simply as “Raphael.” Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael heralded in the period known as the High Renaissance. Combining grace, elegance and beauty, Raphael defined the standard for idealized painting. 

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From unfinished church facades, to postponed Palios, to Renaissance giraffes, to Mona Lisa's smile, to the building behind the Trevi Fountain - and much, much more - this episode answers the very questions that you asked me about the great art, artists and history of the Italian Renaissance.

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The prophets and sibyls that flank the main scenes of the Sistine Chapel ceiling are some of Michelangelo's most impressive figures. Their dramatic poses, expressive, vibrant colors and powerful forms are both inspirational and frightening. Below and between them, Michelangelo filled the spandrels and lunettes with human caricatures, almost as if he were entertaining himself with the often comic and strange figures. This podcas...

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The last three Genesis scenes of the Sistine Chapel ceiling demonstrate Michelangelo's extraordinary ability to represent complex subjects in incredibly effective ways. But they also reveal the divine artist's haste to complete the ceiling project. This episode closely examines the iconography, style and execution of these final frescoes and their role in the realization of the epic commission.

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By the time Michelangelo reached the frescoes in the middle of the ceiling, he introduced a major stylistic change, due, most likely, to being able to see the frescoes from the ground. This episode examines the Adam and Eve scenes and how they reflect this stylistic change as well as revealing the major artistic influences on Michelangelo's paintings. Particular emphasis will be given to one of history's most famous paintin...

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Painting an 8,000 sq. ft. fresco cycle onto the ceiling of a chapel must have been a daunting task even for an artist of the caliber of Michelangelo. This episode examines the process and order by which Michelangelo executed his frescoes, focusing specifically on the first three painted scenes that depict the stories of Noah and the corresponding prophet and sibyl figures.

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Although the Sistine Chapel is the Catholic world's most important chapel since it hosts papal conclaves, the subject matter of the ceiling paintings is largely Old Testament mixed with pagan imagery. This episode unpacks the rich and complex iconography of the many paintings executed by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City. 

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When Michelangelo signed the contract with Pope Julius II in 1508 to paint the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, little did he know the turmoil that awaited him. This first of several podcasts dedicated to the world's most famous ceiling will examine the circumstances behind the contract between artist and pope, and the initial steps taken by Michelangelo for the project. 

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After 120 years of construction, the reign of 18 different popes, and the direction of 12 different architects, St. Peter’s Basilica was finally consecrated in 1626. Measuring more than two football fields in length, it was by far the largest church in Christendom, and a fitting monument to the burial place of the first pope. This episode explores the dramatic construction history of the great church and the architectural contribut...

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When Michelangelo was called to Rome in 1506 by the Pope Julius II, it was to design and carve the mother of all tombs. Intended to stand four stories in height and directly over the tomb of St. Peter, and to accommodate 40 over-life-sized statues, it was a direct reflection of both the pope’s megalomaniacal tendencies and the artist’s overreaching ambition. The Sistine ceiling was the first of a series of interruptions to a projec...

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Titian's two great altarpieces in the great Franciscan basilica of Venice known as the "Frari" marked a turning point in the artist's career. These were his first two public commissions and allowed all of Venice to appreciate the extraordinary talent of a young artist who was still only in his twenties. This episode explores the history, style, and patronage of the two great paintings and how they clearly demonstrat...

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This episode examines one of the milestone masterpieces of Renaissance painting. Baffling art historians for centuries as regards its iconography, the early work by Titian is one of the treasures of the Borghese Gallery.

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Notwithstanding that his life and artistic career were cut short by plague in 1510 while the artist was in his thirties, Giorgione revolutionized European painting by his introduction of enigmatic and unconventional iconography. This episode examines two of Giorgione's most important paintings, both of which are located in the Accademia Gallery in Venice. 

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Carpaccio's extraordinary visual narrative of the life of St. Ursula is one of the most celebrated examples of cyclical Venetian Renaissance painting. Recently restored, the nine large canvases are now on display in the Accademia Gallery of Venice and present a vivid snapshot of life in Venice at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. This podcast will examine the entirety of the cycle and analyze the artistic style of one of...

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At the end of the 15th century, large-scale-cyclical-narrative paintings became quite popular in Renaissance Venice. One of these cycles illustrates in spectacular fashion the legends of the relic of the True Cross that was owned by the Scuola Grande of St. John the Evangelist. This episode examines the three most important paintings of this cycle, which were executed by two of Venice's most important painters.

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This episode examines the first great Venetian painting of the Renaissance. Although the Venetian school of painting appeared almost a full century after that of Florence, the extraordinary genius of Venetian painters such as Giovanni Bellini rapidly made it the major rival of central Italian Renaissance painting. 

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From Botticelli and the Bonfires of the Vanities, to the extraordinary collection of artists' portraits and self-portraits in the Uffizi Gallleries, to the use of AI in art authentication, to Botticelli's $92M "Portrait of a Young Man with a Medal," to the Virgin Mary's thoughts in Michelangelo's Pietà, this episode answers the very questions that you ask me about the great art, artists and history of the I...

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This episode examines the only painting by Michelangelo in Florence, and one of only two finished paintings executed by the artist before he decorated the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In many ways the vibrant, expressive colors and sculptural plasticity of the figures in this painting anticipated the revolutionary style of the Sistine ceiling a few years later.

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In 1504, Florence found its two greatest artists in the city at the same time. Not wanting to miss this rare opportunity to have them test their talents against each other, massive murals were commissioned from each in the great hall of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. This second part of a 2-part podcast will explore what we know about the great murals planned by both artists and that portion that was actually executed by Leonardo da V...

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