Italian Renaissance vs. Northern Renaissance Compare And Contrast

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The literal definition of Renaissance is “rebirth”, and both Italian and northern renaissance is a great example of this. They had similar and different rebirth but they both had to do with culture, art, values, and beliefs. People in the italian renaissance focused on a person’s success and role in society, and this shows they believed in humanism. While people in the northern renaissance focused on combining an individual with religion. Italian and northern renaissance are defined by people’s beliefs and values which were different, but they are similar because of their cultural achievements.

To start off, the Italian had very unique art. Art in the Italian renaissance was humanistic because they were paid by rich nobles, and they painted whatever that noble valued. During this time nobles wanted religious scenes, humanism, and mythology. The rich also wanted the artists to paint their wealth just to show how successful they were. The art was proportional, balanced, and had depth. The nobility believe this type of art was the best, and overall was the most appealing to the eye. Artists in this time were also the first artists to paint a perspective so that it has a 3 dimensional feel. This made it so the art had depth which is different because it always had a flat feeling. Overall their art was based off of sponsors and religion.

In contrast, there was Northern renaissance art. This art was different because it was based off of daily life. It was based off of daily life because the artists were not being paid by sponsors, and daily life had the most inspiration for art. The art also was influenced by the gothic cathedrals in France. Artists during this time took much pride so they made sure that their paintings were very detailed. Because they were so detailed monarchs and universities would sometimes pay for the paintings. The monarchs thought that if they bought the art it would show cultural achievement and in the end it would show national pride. But because of the fewer centers of free trade there were fewer artists. Also the artists were not all in one place they were scattered all over. Overall their art was based off of daily life and religion. (Arts columbia)

Although they have many differences in art, there are also some similarities. The biggest way the art was the same is that both themes of art portrayed nature and religious scenes. They both glorified men and their accomplishments, but they were glorifying different people. This is because the artists were influenced by their sponsors, this was mainly Italian renaissance, and they were influenced by their own personal opinions, this was mainly Northern renaissance. It really all depended on who the artist looked up to in society. Another big similarity was how realistic the paintings are. The artists in both renaissance got into very good detail with the paintings so that the paintings are as realistic as possible. This was both for pride and to the satisfaction of their sponsor.

Another difference is the culture of the two renaissances. The Italian renaissance focused a lot on humanism and a person’s role in society. During this time society focused more on the wealthier class. This is because you were judged based off your role in society. You were judged off of your role in society because the people during this time were shifting towards humanism. This meant there was more study of science and truly finding out how and why things happen, and less people were going to church because they focused more on themselves and trying to become more successful. One of the main ways you could tell if a person was wealthy is through paintings. Usually the more paintings you had the wealthier you were. There was a lot of wealthy people due to more trade, especially near the Mediteranean. Their culture basically shifted because of humanism and trade.

In contrast, there was the Northern renaissance culture. Humanism barely influenced the northern renaissance and they focused a lot on religion. Trade and commerce created more cultural exchange with countries like Italy. This was the only trade that happened and they traded very little. They used the money to build giant palaces that were very expensive. That was the closest to being humanistic during that time. Religion played a big part in people’s lives and it has influenced almost everything. People were very attached to church and they would go to church for all different kinds of reasons. You could tell religion played a big role in people’s lives through art. Because the artists painted daily things that would happen there were alot of paintings that portrayed gods and churches. Basically religion defined the Northern renaissance culture.

Although they have many differences in culture, there are also some similarities. One vivid similarity is trade. Italian renaissance clearly used trade more effectively and more often, but the Northern renaissance sometimes would trade with countries like Italy to get money to create their palaces. Getting money to create the palaces goes under the humanism category. The Italian renaissance is highly influenced by humanism and their whole entire culture is based off of it. Although there are not many similarities between the two cultures they do show signs that they are somewhat the same.

A third difference is the Values and beliefs of the people in both renaissances. The Italian renaissance values and beliefs were a person’s role in society and humanism. During this time people stopped relying on religion for everything and started thinking more practically to help themselves out. They started working harder to become wealthier and successful. People became wealthier because of trade. The people in this renaissance valued wealth and a person’s role in society. They all still were mostly catholic they just believed that money is more important. Another reason why they shifted away from the churches is because they were starting to study science. Science gave a real reason why and how things happen. The people in this renaissance believed in humanism, science, and slightly religion.

In contrast there was the Northern renaissance values and beliefs. The northern renaissance focused a lot on every aspect of daily life and religion. They cared about daily life greatly and made sure to make the most of it. Daily life is shown through art and it was the main influence of paintings. They cared a lot about daily life and made sure to go into great detail when painting about it. This is because they thought everything you did would affect where you go after you die. This also has to do with religion which they focused a lot on and would go to church weekly. The people of this time were ever religious and thought god would solve all of their problems.


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Italian Renaissance vs. Northern Renaissance Compare And Contrast. (2020, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/italian-renaissance-vs-northern-renaissance/

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