Renaissance Humanism lesson plans – The Renaissance Connection

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Renaissance
       ONNECTION                                               Lesson Plans
 Humanism in the
 Renaissance                                                      Class: Social Studies
                                                                  Theme(s):
BACKGROUND
During the Middle Ages (a period of European history from         Quest for Knowledge      Arts & Architecture
the third through 13th centuries), art and learning were centered on the church and religion. But at the start of
the 14th century, people became less interested in thinking about God, heaven and the saints, and more
interested in thinking about themselves, their surroundings and their everyday lives. Part of this change was
influenced by the study of ancient Greek and Roman writings on scientific matters, government, philosophy,
and art. When scholars during the Renaissance began to study these writings, their interests turned away from
traditional areas of study such as religion, medicine and the law. The people of the Renaissance became
interested in other areas of science, the natural world, biology and astronomy. People now studied
mathematics, engineering, and architecture. Artists, writers, musicians and composers began creating work
outside of the church. Artists signed their work and authors wrote autobiographies and memoirs -- stories
about themselves.                                                                               The central figures of
                                                                                                 the Madonna and
The values and ideals popular during the European                                                child in this painting
Renaissance can be described by the term secular                                                 from the late Middle
humanism: secular, meaning not religious and                                                     Ages are much larger
humanism, meaning placing the study and progress of                                              than the four saints
human nature at the center of interests.                                                         who stand below the
                                                                                                 Madonna or the
                                                                                                 angels gathered
The rise of Humanism can be seen in paintings created
                                                                                                 around the upper
by Renaissance artists. During the Middle Ages, saints in
                                                                                                 edges of the painting.
paintings wore halos (a ring or circle of light) around                                          The artists made the
their heads. Artists also used hieratic scale in paintings                                       Madonna and child
during the Middle Ages, making saints or members of                                              larger to help viewers
the family of God larger in scale than ordinary or less                                          understand that they
important figures. As Humanism became more popular                                               are the most
during the Renaissance, ordinary people grew to be the                                           important figures in
same size as saints in paintings and saints began to                                             the painting.
look more like ordinary people. For example, halos
became fainter and eventually disappeared during the
Renaissance.

Saints occupied the same landscape as ordinary           Jacopa di Cione
people in Renaissance paintings and the landscape        Madonna and Child in Glory
was earth instead of heaven. In the Middle Ages it was 1360/65
                                                         Tempera and gold on panel
common for artists to represent figures of heaven
against a gold background, a symbol for the beauty and value of the atmosphere of heaven. As Renaissance
artists experimented with new Humanist ideas, the natural landscape began to appear as a background in
paintings. Saints left their golden atmosphere to occupy the same gardens, forests and buildings that
everyday people lived in.

During the Renaissance, the use mathematical perspective to represent space in paintings was invented.

       Allentown Art Museum                                                                                        1
 the Renaissance             ONNECTION                           Lesson Plans
  HUMANISM IN THE RENAISSANCE: BACKGROUND (continued)
Earlier attempts at representing space often resulted in                                The holy family
furniture or buildings that look just a little "off." Using                             of Mary, Joseph
mathematical formulas, instead of just the human eye,                                   and baby Jesus
gave artists new tools to represent three-dimensional                                   are joined here
space in a convincing way. Renaissance paintings                                        by shepherds
began to give the impression that the frame around                                      and an angel in
the painting was a window frame, and looking at the                                     the center
                                                                                        playing a lute.
painting was like looking through a window.
                                                                                        The landscape
                                                                                        around them is
Artists began to use oil paints for the first time during                               earthly rather
the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, egg tempera was                                    than heavenly.
used most widely. Mixing egg yolks with pigments
made egg tempera and artists made their own paints.
Egg tempera dried quickly and created a flat, rough
surface. Oil paint was invented in the early 15th
century and created great excitement among
Renaissance artists. Oil paint dried slowly, and was
translucent, meaning light could shine through the
paint. The characteristics of oil paint allowed artists to Giovanni Agostino da Lodi
build layers of color and create paintings with the        Adoration of the Shepherds
appearance of greater depth.                               1510
                                                              Oil on panel




        Allentown Art Museum                                                                       2
 the Renaissance             ONNECTION                           Lesson Plans
  HUMANISM IN THE RENAISSANCE (continued)
CLASSROOM TIME                                                                                      This tempera
One 40 minute period                                                                                painting, made in
                                                                                                    the early
                                                                                                    Renaissance, is an
OBJECTIVES                                                                                          example of
The students will:                                                                                  perspective that
 Understand that evidence of Humanism in the                                                       looks a little "off."
  European Renaissance can be found in paintings                                                    Each item in this
  from the Renaissance.                                                                             painting, the altar,
 Understand the differences between the cultures of                                                the screen in the
  the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that are                                                      Background, etc. is
  revealed in works of art.                                                                         accurately
 Learn to distinguish the stylistic differences between                                            represented, but
  Renaissance paintings and works of art from the                                                   put them all
  European Middle Ages.                                                                             together and they
                                                                                                    don't quite fit.
 Apply criteria of Humanistic evidence to paintings
  to determine their place in Renaissance history.

PENNSYLVANIA ACADEMIC STANDARDS                            Franconian School
                                                           Miraculous Mass of St. Martin of Tours
                                                           about 1440
Arts and Humanities                                        Tempera and gold on canvas on panel
9.1.8.D. Demonstrate knowledge of at least two
         styles within each art form through the performance or exhibition of unique works.

9.3.8.C. Identify and classify styles, forms, types and genres within art forms.

Social Studies
7.3.6.D. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their economic acts.

7.4.6.D. Ways humans adjust the impact on the habitat.

MATERIALS
 LCD Projector or large display-sized reproductions of Madonna and Child in Glory (Jacopo di Cione),
  Miraculous Mass of St. Martin of Tours (Franconian School), Madonna and Child with St. John (Giuliano
  Bugiardini), Adoration of the Shepherds (Giovanni Agostino da Lodi), Adoration of the Magi (Kress
  Monogramist), Bean Eater (Annibale Carracci)
 Blackboard or white board
 A collection of online or postcard sized reproductions of paintings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

SOCIAL STUDIES LESSON

1. Setting the Stage
Explain to students that during the Middle Ages (a period of European history from the third through 13th
centuries), art and learning were centered on the church and religion. But at the start of the 14th century, people
became less interested in thinking about God, heaven and the saints, and more interested in thinking about
themselves, their surroundings and their everyday lives. The values and ideals popular during the European
Renaissance can be described by the term secular humanism: secular, meaning not religious and humanism,
meaning placing the study and progress of human nature at the center of interests.

        Allentown Art Museum                                                                                         3
the Renaissance             ONNECTION                         Lesson Plans
  HUMANISM IN THE RENAISSANCE: SOCIAL STUDIES LESSON (continued)
The rise of Humanism during the Renaissance can be seen in paintings
created by Renaissance artists. Explain to students that they will be learning
how to tell the difference between paintings from the Renaissance and
earlier works of art, just by looking for evidence in the paintings themselves.
Works of art created in the Renaissance are primary sources of information
about how people lived in Renaissance Europe. Explain that students will
look for specific clues to make judgments about whether a painting is a
Renaissance painting or not.

2. The Renaissance Connection
Show students a reproduction or projection of Madonna and Child in Glory
(Jacopo di Cione). Explain that this is a very early example of Renaissance
painting, containing many of the characteristics of paintings from the Middle
Ages. Point out the halos around the heads of the figures in the paintings, a
signal that they are residents of heaven. Write the word halo on the board.
Point out that the pairs of saints and angels around the upper border of the
painting are smaller than the Madonna and child in the center. Explain that
this is called hieratic scale
                            e, which means making the most important figures
in a work of art larger than less important figures. Write the word hieratic
scalee on the board.

                                 Show students a reproduction or projection Jacopa di Cione
                                                                                 Madonna and Child in Glory
                                 of Miraculous Mass of St. Martin of Tours
                                                                                 1360/65
                                 (Franconian School). Ask them to compare Tempera and gold on panel
                                 the background in this painting to the
                                 background in the painting they just saw. Explain that it was common during the
                                 Middle Ages for artists to use gold backgrounds to symbolize the holy
                                 atmosphere of heaven but artists in the
                                 Renaissance were less interested in heaven
                                 and much more interested in what the world
                                 around them looked like. Does St. Martin of
                                 Tours wear a halo? There are other saints in
                                 the background panel in this painting. Ask
                                 the students if they think this artist used
Franconian School                Hieratic scale. Where? Why? Where are the
Miraculous Mass of               figures in this painting? Do their surroundings
Martin of Tours                  look true to life? Why or why not?
about 1440
Tempera and gold on
canvas on panel                   Show students a reproduction or projection
                                  of Madonna and Child with St. John
(Giuliano Bugiardini). Do these figures wear halos? How do they differ from
the halos the students saw in the first painting? Ask students to describe the
landscape surrounding these figures. Is the landscape heavenly or earthly?
Write the word landscape on the board. Explain that as Renaissance interests
changed from studying religion to studying natural sciences and human
nature, the paintings created during the Renaissance changed too. In this      Guiliano Bugiardini
painting, the holy family of the Madonna and baby Jesus with St. John live in Madonna and Child with
the same world as ordinary people. Explain that this painting is made with     St. John, 1510
                                                                                  Oiil on panel
        Allentown Art Museum                                                                                 4
 the Renaissance             ONNECTION                        Lesson Plans
  HUMANISM IN THE RENAISSANCE: SOCIAL STUDIES LESSON (continued)
                                           oil paint, invented during the Renaissance. Oil paint allowed artists to
                                           build up layers of paint that light could shine through, and allowed
                                           artists to represent light in a more believable way. Students might find it
                                           helpful to compare this painting with the first painting they saw, made
                                           of tempera paint, and list the differences in faces, folds of cloth and hair.
                                           Write the word oil paint on the board.

                                           Show students a reproduction or projection of Adoration of the
                                           Shepherds (Giovanni Agostino da Lodi). Explain that this painting, made
                                           a little later than the others, shows the holy family of Mary, Joseph and
                                           baby Jesus, with shepherds on each side of the painting and an angel
                                           playing a lute at the center. Ask students whether this artist has used
                                           hieratic scale. Why or why not? Can students see any halos? Ask
                                           students if they think this painting is made with tempera paint or oil
                                           paint?

                                            Show students a
                                            reproduction or
Giovanni Agostino da Lodi                   projection of Adoration
Adoration of the Shepherds                  of the Magi (Kress
1510                                        Monogramist). Ask
Oil on panel                                students to examine
the buildings in the background very carefully. Do they look true to
life? Why or why not. Explain that mathematical formulas that
allowed artists to represent space in paintings in a very believable
way were invented during the Renaissance. We call this accurate
perspective. Write perspective on the board. It may be helpful to
have students compare the perspective in this painting with the
perspective they saw in the earlier painting Miraculous Mass of St.
Martin of Tours (Franconian School). Which looks more true to life?
Why? Can the students find any halos in the Adoration of the           The Kress Monnogrammist
                                                                       The Adoration of the Magi
Magi painting? Is there any hieratic scale at work? Where is there about 1550/1560
landscape in this painting? Did the artist use oil paint or tempera? Oil on oak panel
                                            Can the students tell
                                            which figures are ordinary people in this painting and which are
                                            saints? Explain that Renaissance artists represented the interests in the
                                            culture they worked in and that the saints, heaven and the church
                                            began to be a part of everyday life, quite literally as this painting
                                            shows.

                                           Show students a reproduction or projection of the Bean Eater
                                           (Annibale Carracci). Explain that this painting was made later in the
                                           Renaissance than any of the others the students have seen. While
                                           religious subjects remained popular during the Renaissance, for the
                                           first time in art history ordinary people also became worthy subjects for
                                           works of art. Can the students tell if the man in the painting is a saint?
Annibale Carracci
The Bean Eater
                                           Is this painting an oil painting? How can students tell?
1582/83
Oil on canvas
        Allentown Art Museum                                                                                       5
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