Wednesday, September 2, 2009

14th Century Italy: Black Plague's Affect on Art

During the 14th century in Italy, the Black Plague had a drastic toll on the artwork being produced. Italy had already lost 50-60 percent of its population by this time. Naturally artists turned to religious figures to ease the death surrounding them. Religious figures were used in the 14th century to send a message of hope and inspiration in a time where sickness and death surrounded Italy.

Artists started using religious figures more and more in statues and paintings to send a message of hope to the people of Italy. The Virgin Mary, Christ and the Prophets were a few religious figures that were depicted in these statues and paintings performing miracles, which defied the odds, and were more God-like. Just as in the panel of Saint Francis Altarpiece by Bonaventura Berlinghieri, Berlinghieri depicts Saint Francis healing people, and with himself having wounds in his hands and feet this brought the imagery of Saint Francis to be more Christ-like.

The artists started to relate back to a more classical style, humanism was a result of the plague which depicted people's values and interests. In paintings and statues, people were depicted more realistically with facial expressions and emotional display, this made the artwork more relate able for the observer of the painting.

Italy was surrounded by death and dying from the Black Plague, art was an escape for the people of Italy. A reminder to not focus on they could be the next one to get sick, but a message of these times shall past and better days are upon them.

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