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Art History Research

"A renaissance of humanism and its characters"


"The figures that fail to win their battles against the demons are dragged to the left side of Christ, where they will continue to struggle to escape their fate.  There are bags of money to symbolize the soul of greed, while another figure is being pulled by the scrotum, symbolizing man’s lust and desire. While these types of details resemble more symbolism than iconography, it is worth noting that in many pieces done by Michelangelo during the Renaissance, they still contain many iconographic details, another example, Michelangelo’s David.  In The Last Judgment, the focus is the subject matter at the micro-level as opposed to its overall form.  The elements within the painting tell stories and bear expressions that are open to interpretation and much more than simple human figures."

Hintzman, Laura. A Renaissance of Humanism and its Characters. 2019

-How nudity transformed painting

"A renaissance of humanism and its characters"

The Last Judgement




13.7 m × 12 m

"Another painting that establishes a humanistic and iconographical influence is Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, inspired from mythology. During the Renaissance the art world underwent a revolution with the increasing popularity of mythology paintings, merging together both classical elements from art along with humanistic ideals and elements. What Botticelli changes in his art is the representation and meaning of nudity in a painting.  He created these images to represent power and authority as inspired by ancient art and literature, which was in sharp contrast to Medieval times when nudity in art indicated humiliation, disrespect, and was seen as sexualized.

Botticelli used iconography with clear references to Roman Mythology.  For instance, Venus arises from the ocean standing on a white shell, which is a symbol for love in antiquity. He lays out a peaceful and harmonious scene with a nymph on the right and the spirit of life on the left, breathing her into the soft and feminine goddess she is to become. Venus herself is a symbol, representing love, human desire, and consciousness.  Robert Williams and James Elkins state in Renaissance Theory that “Humanism often manifested itself as both a content and a methodology inspired by Neoplatonism, focusing on style and the impress of humanism and classical history” This is seen in Botticelli’s work, where his passion for Neoplatonism is apparent and he demonstrates that appreciation by reimagining the subject matter of ancient philosophers and artists.

This could be said of many artists at the time. Moreover, Neoplatonism as an influence on Humanism, and its effect on Renaissance artists is understandable given people’s interest to rediscover the past and the history that was destroyed during the Dark Ages."

The Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli


5′ 8″ x 9′ 2″

"The plight of nighthawks"

"With the pin-up doll appearance and the crispness of the suits, it can make us romanticize the past, but forget the tragedies it truly entailed. But from that darkness of the Great Depression, we can see how this painting is apart of the world in which it emerged. We are able to connect with this painting because of the people's inability to connect with each other, through this we see the similarities in our insecurities and an understanding of why. And though some may take his work as “bland,” they may be right, what he does is make us peek into the lives of others doing what may seem mundane tasks, but are really apart of everyday routines. Once again giving us the chance to relate to his work. His work has a casualness to it and is still recognizable today, and in this case, one of the most recognized paintings in American art, one that will surely soar on in history like the nighthawks. "

Hintzman, Laura. The Plight of Nighthawks. 2018


Edward Hopper

oil on canvas


2′ 9″ x 5′ 0″

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