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High Renaissance to Mannerism The Transition By James Riley An essay that deals with motives behind the transition between High Renaissance and Mannerism and explains differences and contrasts illustrated by each period Before I explain the theories behind the transition between these two periods it is important to recognise what characterized each period and what possible social andor historical factors could have initiated or contributed to the transition The term Renaissance adopted from the French equivalent of the Italian word rinascita meaning literally rebirth describes the radical and comprehensive changes that took place in European culture during the 15th and 16th centuries bringing about the demise of the Middle Ages and embodying for the first time the values of the modern world High Renaissance art is the culmination of the experiments of the 15th century for it is above all characterized by a desire to achieve harmony and balance The idea of movement is explored yet the eye is always given a point of focus and rest The composition conforms to Albertis definition of beauty as that harmony of parts to which nothing can be added or taken away without destroying the whole Although there is movement implied in the poses of the figures and movement across the surface of the composition it is always dignified movement giving the impression of calm The style maintains simplicity and unity High Renaissance interests are displayed in Raphaels The Small Cowper Madonna attached with its softness of contour and perfection of balance The work uses an invisible pyramid construction to frame the figures This is typical of the underlying geometry in Renaissance works Both faces the Virgins almost smiling almost praying wholly wrapped up in her Child and that of the Child wholly at ease with his Mother dreamily looking out at us with a pure sweetness of heart Behind the seated figures we see
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