Apart from the revival of classical literature, many works in classical languages as well as in the native languages came up during this period. We have already referred to Dante's Divine Comedy written in the Italian language.
Similarly, Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales in English. Boccaccio was the author of the Deccameron, a collection of fables.
Machiavelli, who lived in Florence, wrote his eight- volume History of Florence. His most famous work was The Prince, a book on political science.
While Italy was the home of the most famous literary figures of the Renaissance, a Renaissance literature typical of that period can also be found in France, England, Germany, and Spain.
In England, Sir Thomas Moore wrote his famous book Utopia in Latin. However, the Elizabethan era marked the beginning of the English Renaissance. It saw dramatists like William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Charles Webster; poets like Edmund Spenser, Sydney and Ben Johnson. Hakluyt wrote excellent travel accounts during this period.
Montaigne (1533-1592), the French essayist, was the most typical writer of the Renaissance literature. His works reflect an intense interest in himself and in things connected with the life of man. His essays on education were regarded as important for centuries. A forerunner of Voltaire in his method of writing and thinking, Montaigne revolted against the authority and the tyranny of the past and earned the title 'the first modern man'.
In Germany, Martin Luther translated the Bible in the German language. Sebastian Brant wrote The Ship of Fools. In Spain, Cervantes authored the famous Don Quixote.
Art in the Middle Ages was dominated by the Christian religion and Church. During the Renaissance importance was given to the love of nature and human body. Although the spirit of humanism prevailed, the subject matter of the most of the Renaissance art was Christian. Renaissance painting bloomed most profusely in Italy. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Raphael (1483-1520) were the dominant figures among the Renaissance painters.
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most versatile men of his time, was an artist, poet, musician, and engineer. Hence, he is known as the 'Renaissance Man'. Born in Florence, he visited several countries. He was patronized by the Duke of Milan. His famous paintings were the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.
Michelangelo was both a painter and sculptor. He lived in Florence and patronized by the Medici family. Later, he went to Rome. The magnificent frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican represent his most brilliant achievement in painting. This work contains 145 pictures with 394 figures, some of which are as much as ten feet high. His painting, The Last MICHELANGELO Judgementis considered the best in the world.
Raphael achieved a rare blending of devotional feeling with a sense of beauty. Although Raphael died at the age of thirty-seven, he produced a great number of paintings, of which the most familiar is the Madonna.
The Venetian School is an excellent example of the secularization of the Renaissance art. Artistic expression in Venice was worldly and materialistic. Titian (1477-1576) and Tintoretto (1518-1592) were the greatest painters of Venice.
The art of sculpture had also witnessed progress during the Renaissance period. It was more original and beautiful. The pioneer of the Renaissance sculpture was Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455). The magnificent doors at the Baptistery of Florence were his master piece. LORENZO GHIBERTI Michael Angelo appreciated the beauty of these doors as worthy to the gates of the Paradise. Donatello (1386-1466) produced the statue of St. George in Florence and that of St. Mark at Venice. Michelangelo besides being a painter was a celebrated sculptor. He produced some of his best sculptures for the Medici family in Florence. He was also the creator of the statue of David in Florence. Brunelleschi and Robbia were the other famous sculptors of this period. One of the most familiar examples of the Renaissance architecture is St. Peter's Church of Rome.