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Techniques Used in Renaissance Art

Updated November 21, 2016

During the age of the Renaissance, artists began to depict images with a more realistic goal. The depiction of the human body and objects was not an idealisation of the imagination, but rather a means of artistic innovation. While there were many techniques used by the masters of the Renaissance, only the main techniques are described below.

Humanism and Perspective

Humanism was a means of reverting back to the classical ideologies. The idea of perspective is to create a three-dimensional appearance on a two-dimensional object (e.g. canvas).

Sfumato

The idea of sfumato was to blend one shade into another in order to create perceptions of depth, form and volume. The most famous example of this technique is the Mona Lisa.

Chiaroscuro

This type of painting uses the contrast of light and dark to create dimension to a painting, which gives the illusion of depth or three-dimensionality. An example of this technique would be works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, who developed tenebrism (a form of chiaroscuro where objects appear to emerge from blackness).

Fresco

There are two types of frescoes, buon fresco and fresco secco. Buon fresco consisted of mixing pigments with water, and in fresco secco pigments were mixed with binding agents and painted on dry plaster.

Foreshortening

The idea of foreshortening is meant to add depth to a painting by creating the illusion of objects retreating into a background. One artist known for this technique was Andrea Mantegna.

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