The Renaissance Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein What we consider to be the modern period of human development really begins with the Renaissance. Then, as now, it was helpful for an artist to have a patron, and fortunately 15th century Italy was prosperous enough to foster patronage of architecture, painting, sculpture, and education. Modern scholars suggest several reasons for the emergence of this "rebirth" of interest in earlier cultures. Italians of the 15th century were actually well aware of their ancestry and of the artistic and architectural ideals of the past. They looked back to Classical culture as a golden age and as a model for human accomplishments. And of particular importance was the relative economic prosperity and peace of the Italian city states during that time, which allowed an upsurge of interest in education and patronage of all the arts. Cosimo de Medici in Florence even sent emissaries to various countries in search of ancient manuscripts in an effort to recover lost wisdom. Another strand of influence was the call for reform of the Roman Catholic Church in the late Middle Ages. This had two results: a refocusing of endeavor away from religion and toward the achievements of human beings; and a desire to purify religious thought, faith, and action. To the one end, artists valued the ideal forms of Classical art, sculpture, and architecture of Greece and Rome. To the other end, reformers looked to the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments as a golden age of spiritual truth. One result was the Renaissance; the other result was the Reformation. An additional influence that brought the ancient world in contact with 15th century culture was the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. At that time many Byzantine scholars who had preserved the ancient manuscripts from the Classical world brought them to Italy, particularly the city of Venice, with which the Byzantine’s had a long history. However, in the early Renaissance period, the humanistic revival was most prominently seen in the art and architecture of Florence, due at least in part to the patronage of the Medici family. In addition, from many sources Renaissance thinkers were exposed to ancient philosophies: including Hermeticism,  the Hebrew Kabbalah, the spiritual traditions of mystery religions, alchemy, astrology, and magic. And from all these sources emerged both the tremendous outpouring of art from Renaissance artists and sculptors, the Reformation, and the foundations for modern science. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily