From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
David, by Michelangelo (Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence) is a masterpiece of Renaissance and world art.

The Renaissance (UK /rᵻˈneɪsəns/, US /rɛnəˈsɑːns/) was a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries. It occurred after the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages and was associated with great social change.


  • The men of the Renaissance were in a peculiar situation... What they saw behind them... were the peaks of classical antiquity... the summit of human reason... since lost. ...[T]hey were governed by... this ancient outlook which at one level represented a static view and at another level involved a theory of decadence. under a system that might be described as cyclic. This antique-modern view... found explicit statement... in the writings of Machiavelli. ...Within any city or state or civilization... the natural operation of time was to produce internal corruption... a process of decandence. [I]n a parallel manner... bodies would decompose and the finest fabrics in nature would suffer putrefaction. ...[T]he current science chimed in... for in both realms... compound bodies had a natural tendency to disintegrate. ...[A]t the Renaissance it was almost less possible to believe in what we call progress than it had been in the middle ages.
  • Most of the basic ideas in the Renaissance view of history are still clearly present in the controversies in the latter half of the seventeenth century; but the famous quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns—the controversy in the course of which a more modern view of progress was hammered out—is already visible at the time of the Renaissance.
  • Ever since the French revolution there has developed a vicious, cretinizing tendency to consider a genius (apart from his work) as a human being more or less the same in every sense as other ordinary mortals. This is wrong. And if this is wrong for me, the genius of the greatest spiritual order or our day, a true modern genius, it is even more wrong when applied to those who incarnated the almost divine genius of the Renaissance, such as Raphael.
  • History knew a midnight, which we may estimate at about the year 1000 A.D., when the human race lost the arts and sciences even to the memory. The last twilight of paganism was gone, and yet the new day had not begun. Whatever was left of culture in the world was found only in the Saracens, and a Pope eager to learn studied in disguise in their unversities, and so became the wonder of the West. At last Christendom, tired of praying to the dead bones of the martyrs, flocked to the tomb of the Saviour Himself, only to find for a second time that the grave was empty and that Christ was risen from the dead. Then mankind too rose from the dead. It returned to the activities and the business of life; there was a feverish revival in the arts and in the crafts. The cities flourished, a new citizenry was founded. Cimabue rediscovered the extinct art of painting; Dante, that of poetry. Then it was, also, that great courageous spirits like Abelard and Saint Thomas Aquinas dared to introduce into Catholicism the concepts of Aristotelian logic, and thus founded scholastic philosophy. But when the Church took the sciences under her wing, she demanded that the forms in which they moved be subjected to the same unconditioned faith in authority as were her own laws. And so it happened that scholasticism, far from freeing the human spirit, enchained it for many centuries to come, until the very possibility of free scientific research came to be doubted. At last, however, here too daylight broke, and mankind, reassured, determined to take advantage of its gifts and to create a knowledge of nature based on independent thought. The dawn of the day in history is know as the Renaissance or the Revival of Learning.
  • All the art since the Renaissance seemed too men-oriented. I liked (the) object quality. An Egyptian pyramid, a Sung vase, the Romanesque church appealed to me. The forms found in the vaulting of a cathedral or even a splatter of tar on the road seemed more valid and instructive and a more voluptuous experience than either geometric or action painting.
    • Ellsworth Kelly 'Notes from 1969'; as quoted in “Ellsworth Kelly: Works on Paper”, ed. Diane Upright, Harry N. Inc., Publishers, New York, in association with the Fort Worth Art Museum, New York, 1987, p. 9.
  • The great Christian art did not die because all possible forms had been used up; it died because faith was being transformed into piety. Now, the same conquest of the outside world that brought in our modern individualism, so different from that of the Renaissance, is by way of relativizing the individual. It is plain to see that man's faculty of transformation, which began by a remaking of the natural world, has ended by calling man himself into question.
    • André Malraux, Les voix du silence [Voices of Silence] (1951) Part IV, Chapter VI
  • Neither Watt's steam engine nor Whitney's standardized parts really started the Industrial Revolution, although each has been awarded that claim, in the past. The real start was the awakening of scientific and technological thoughts during the Renaissance, with the idea that the lawful behavior of nature can be understood, analyzed, and manipulated to accomplish useful ends. That idea itself, alone, was not enough, however, for not until the creation and evolution of blueprints was it possible to express exactly how power and parts were to be combined for each specific task at hand.
    • Douglas T. Ross, "Structured analysis (SA): A language for communicating ideas" in: IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan 1977. pp. 16-34; p. 16.
  • The attitude of man toward the non-human environment has differed profoundly at different times. The Greeks, with their dread of hubris and their belief in a Necessity or Fate superior even to Zeus, carefully avoided what would have seemed to them insolence towards the universe. The Middle Ages carried submission much further: humility towards God was a Christian's first duty. Initiative was cramped by this attitude, and great originality was scarcely possible. The Renaissance restored human pride, but carried it to the point where it led to anarchy and disaster. Its works were largely undone by the Reformation and the Counter-reformation. But modern technique, while not altogether favorable to the lordly individual of the Renaissance, has revived the sense of the collective power of human communities. Man, formerly too humble, begins to think of himself as almost a God.
  • In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed - they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love and five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: