Around the 14th entury, 1340 AD, Europe was under siege by bubonic plague, which would also be referred to as the Black Death. Almost half of the European population was wiped out and around fifty to sixty percent of Italy's population was also destroyed.
Along with the decrease in population and the abundant fear of the Apocalypse, was a moderate change in European art. During the plague, architecture was on the rise because of the increase in the need for hospitals, because of the health scare. Also the need for more depictions of religious and devotional images. The thought of eminent death in peoples minds re influences the importance of salvation and redemption in their lives before they die, and the fact that death was all around, made the need for more religious icons.
After the plague, however, was the birth if the Renaissance, or the age of "Enlightenment." This movement focuses more on secular humanism, which means that human values and interests are as distinct as religious otherworldly interests. It also means that man starts to take more of an ownership of his existence, and also influences the way humans understand reasoning and the fact that we can take charge of our own destiny.
The art in the the Renaissance was based on human change, not so much importance of religious depictions. The artist however, still reverted back to more classical types of style, while also inventing new mediums.