During the Renaissance era, humanism became a central motif for painters, sculptors and
similar artists. In earlier artistic periods, such as medieval times, the content of most of the
works was religious. In the High Renaissance, we begin to slowly move away from it.
Religious scenes or characters were always depicted, but in a different light. Perhaps the
messages conveyed by Art in the High Renaissance are more aimed at human ideals rather
than religious themes. Beauty in the human form and humanity itself were discovered and, for
the most part, replaced the beauty of deity and holiness. The Renaissance marked a growing
curiosity and a keen interest in the individual.
Unlike representations of the human figure in medieval times, which were usually dressed and
somewhat lifeless, representations of human beings in Renaissance art most often appear
naked and full, embracing humanism. Artists focused more on composition than on content
and subject matter. For example, Michelangelo’s David is a kind of majestic coin due not only
to the mythological basis on which it was created, but also to its amazing know-how. David
seems to be about to move at any moment. The muscles are full and provide a feeling of
strength; the viewer can almost imagine pulsating blood through the veins of his hands; and I
would not be surprised if he was open to find organs. Michelangelo is also known for
studying the human body, which contributes to his anatomically correct figures. He even
seems to have added muscle in places to try to advance his representation of the form and
ideals of humanism. He portrays the male form in an idealized perfection, and in this way,
idealism and humanism work together.
Another influence of humanism on Renaissance art is the passage of the representation of
halos on holy figures. It also shows the decline in religious values at the time. Leonardo de
Vinci’s Supper even makes Christ and his disciples closer to the Earth and more like humans
by removing their Aureoles, for we do not see Aureoles in reality. However, the rounded
pediment above the door in the background acts as an architectural halo and realistically
symbolizes the holiness of Christ.
Translated by Başak Arya Gençler