Domesticity, Intimacy, and Pictorial Space in the Fourteenth & Fifteenth Century Italian Renaissance

Domesticity, Intimacy, and Pictorial Space in the Fourteenth & Fifteenth Century Italian Renaissance

Jessica A. Cerrato (Portland State University)

Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies, Vol 1 (2011)


Among their many achievements, Italian Renaissance artists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries transformed conventions for the depiction of space within the medium of painting. The flat, intangible, ‘otherworldly’ spacial representations of the Gothic iconographic style fell increasingly into disuse, as the tastes of the Quattrocento audience shifted to favor treatments of greater sophistication, illusionism, and naturalistic detail—treatments in which the figures depicted were perceived as occupying the same theoretical spaces (domestic, devotional, monastic) as their audience. A pictorial space that simulates three dimensionality (via the use of one-point perspective) is intuitively more relatable, especially to an audience whose focus was shifting to a humanistic model—a philosophy which espoused that man was the measure of all things. The intentional blurring of the line between pictorial space and real space was a device put to powerful use in Renaissance painting as a tool to enforce the sense of intimacy and accessibility of devotional works.

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