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The Use of New Scientific Knowledge in Creating Artistic Work

Advancements and the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work in the period significantly took the form of global exploration. In this article, we will discuss the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work.

The Renaissance Period

Why did the Renaissance artists make use of science in their art?
The The School of Athens painting as an example of the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work
“The School of Athens” by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This period signified a resurgence of interest in classical arts; one that was practically forgotten all through the middle ages. Art developed a style that bordered largely on humanism, striving to capture nature and human beauty in the many works that were created. Indeed, several scientific advancements can be said to have spurred the many achievements of this period.

What is the most important invention of the Renaissance period?

Perhaps the most notable invention of the Renaissance period, the printing press was developed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 (01). Consequently, the innovation influenced art greatly in form of music as could now be printed on sheets and distributed to a large population. Further, new musical instruments came into existence, including the violin and harpsichord family, helping to create music that translated to emotional messages for listeners.

Gutenberg developed the printing press as an example of the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work
Gutenberg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Humanist philosophy required that art showed people with emotions, leading life and paintings looked more realistic even in three dimensions. Armed with the financial prowess and political influence of their many patrons, artists soon developed many techniques to make this possible. In Naples, the painter Antonello da Messina began using oil paints for portraits and religious paintings, a technique that soon spread across Italy (02). Leonardo Da Vinci would later be able to show the effect of light on landscape and objects with a more dramatic edge that also appeared natural as seen in his masterpiece – Mona Lisa.

Baroque and Rococo

In time, the Renaissance started to fade away and was getting gradually replaced by a new style of art, the Baroque. In Italy, traces of Baroque can be traced as far back as the dying years of the 16th century (03). This spread across Europe, evolved through the years and lasted as long as the first few years of the 19th century (04) in Germany and some South American territories of Spain and Portugal. However, Baroque is conventionally believed to have flourished in 17th century Europe, especially during the first half of it.

Dome of Church of the Gesù as an example of the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work
Giovanni Battista Gaulli, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The term ‘Baroque‘ as an English word has been said to have French, Italian, Portuguese, and even Latin origins. The ultimate meaning is however similar across the board with Baroque referring to “a deviation from the norm”. The idea of Baroque art was to vividly or overtly express emotions using a keen element of drama in a way that passionately appealed to the senses.

Global Exploration During Baroque and Rococo

Advancements in scientific knowledge in creating artistic work in the period significantly took the form of global exploration. There were many successful attempts to understand the extent of the earth and the celestial bodies beyond. Mathematical theories became the order of the day, and lenses and screens in instruments of observation such as the telescope were greatly employed all in an attempt to discover ‘God’s exquisite design of the world’. The period saw the theories of Copernicus relating to astronomy, the shape, and position of Earth – scientist, Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and Galileo Galilei’s invention of the telescope(05) amongst his other advances in music, visual arts, astronomy, and science at large. Further, the landscape painting developed in the 17th century commonly depicted humans as miniature figures in an expansive natural setting in response to these discoveries.

Kaisersaal Würzburg as an example of the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work
Andreas Faessler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What did the Rococo style originally refer to?

The Rococo refers to the art style that started very early in 18th century Paris and spread across the country and Europe at large, principally Germany and Austria (06). It informed art such as architecture, sculpture, interior design, decorative arts, and painting. On the contrary to the preceding baroque art, Rococo chose to show elegance, playfulness, and grace in form of exuberant decor. Also, art assumed a form of asymmetry, one that was quite alien to Europe. Furthermore, light colours, gold, and ivory white became the identifying colours and mirrors helped to create an illusion of a much bigger space.

Check the following articles to read more about the use of new scientific knowledge in creating artistic work:
  1. Contributor, J., 2020. The Renaissance: The ‘Rebirth’ Of Science & Culture. The Renaissance: The ‘Rebirth’ Of Science & Culture
  2. En.m.wikipedia.org. 2020. Renaissance art. Renaissance art
  3. Art Education, 1952. Encyclopaedia Britannica Art Films. 5(6), p.18.
  4. En.m.wikipedia.org. 2020. Baroque. Baroque
  5. ResearchGate. 2020. (PDF) ‫ 17Th Century Dialogue Between Art And Science. The Effect Of The Scientific Contributions Of Galileo On Late Renaissance And Baroque Art
  6. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Rococo | Definition, Art, Painting, & Characteristics