Thoughts on the Renaissance

Bernhard Berenson, a famed American Art Historian whose study of Renaissance art helped define and sustain interest in the aesthetic contributions of the Italian artists and thinkers of the 14th to 16th centuries.  Berenson felt the creative genius of the Renaissance was driven by youth, by exceptionally talented and gifted geniuses who also happened to be young when their aesthetic powers catapulted them into the rarified air we call the Renaissance.  Berenson wrote the following statement in his book The Venetian Painters (1894) about the presence of a powerful energy and vigor emanating from such young prodigies as Michelangelo and Raphael:  “The Renaissance…stands for youth, and youth alone…for intellectual curiosity and energy grasping at the whole of life as material which it hopes to mould to any shape.”  Do you see or feel “youth” in the Italian Renaissance?

Bernhard Berenson


One of the many books written by Bernhard Berenson which helped define and sustain interest in the Italian Renaissance



20 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Renaissance

  1. I don’t feel nor see anything resembling to the word “youth” during the renaissance. All of the art pieces to me feel like they were expressing love and relationships. And the way i think of “youth” is young adults pursuing their dreams and goals rather then it being love.

  2. I honestly don’t see “youth” in Renaissance pieces, I do see love and enchantment. While there is no young or old age for love I think you can experience this at any point in your life. Many artists were young when they began their careers I also think they were wise beyond their years therefore, reflecting on their works of art.

  3. I see youth in the Renaissance in the sense that the art seems young with a new perspective then previously portrayed in Egypt and Greece. I always thought of the Renaissance as a flourishing of a major culture in the arts with sculptures, paintings, and writing.

  4. I never thought of the Renaissance as “young for youth” but now that I think about it I think that I agree on. Young people have the zeal to prove themselves, ‘challenging’ the greats of the past. Youth have certain arrogance that has nothing nasty, just the will to test themselves and see how far they can get. Instead an adult knows its limits and loses interest in the experiment because has reached its point of expression, reached after years of work and experience. An adult appreciates but does not dare. A young man appreciates and wishes.

  5. I would absolutely agree that there is a youthful feel to the art of the Renaissance. Young people typically have a much more sexual minded approach to topics and this is clearly portrayed in the art of the Renaissance. Most of the art is centered around love, sex and relationships. These are all topics that deeply resonate with the youth of any era. I can definitely see where Bernhard Berenson is coming from with his comments regarding The Renaissance “standing for youth, and youth alone.”

  6. Without a doubt the Renaissaance shows the youthfull exhuberance of a new generation of thinkers. The stiffness and stoic behavior of the arts is moving to a more humananistic posing of real people.
    I would like to say something about the Cave Painters. I have really tried to reconcile these painting with everthing that is involved in my mind about humans. If these painting are real then it would appear that either the human race was eradicated from earth or the Egyptians did no evolve artistically, or creativily.

  7. The Renaissance portrayed and stood for many things, and youth could be one of them, but what I see when I think of the Renaissance is simply the celebration of humanism. The arts of the era depict much love and emotion. The works that were created during the Renaissance were completely drenched in human emotion. As some have noted, it is very much like the youth to be involved in emotion and love, so its not far off to say the renaissance was a youthful celebration, but I believe that it is more broad, it is a celebration of life itself, and all that that encompasses, namely emotion and other human ideas.

  8. I think you can see youth all over the renaissance because change starts with the young.So when these new styles started happen and young artist started popping with new ideas about art and science all over the place

  9. Yes, I so see youth in the Renaissance. Youth, to me, means life. The sculptures and paintings of the Renaissance bring life to art. The sculptures anre fantastic. Both Davids, Michaelangelo’s and Raphael’s, show life and this is youth. The anatomical features show the artists ability to go beneath the veneer of the skin and get to the sinew or soul of the subject. It advertises their curiosity about life.

  10. I think that there is youth expressed in the renaissance because the era itself is new. Rebirth has to start from somewhere and it’s something that can’t be achieved through old and already-been-used types of art. This whole time frame was an introduction of new styles of art and chances for new artists to emerge. Youth to that time, it absolutely was

  11. It is interesting as I looked at some of the comments above especially the one that talks about they can’t see the ,”youth” in the renaissance it caused me to realize the exact opposite. The sculptures and paintings that we viewed in class in my mind all depicted youth and beauty. For example the sculptures of David from the bible. Both depict a youth.

  12. For me, I see youth in the renaissance, only because you see children and young angels. Yes it is true that there were many sculptures and works of art of older generations but what is most common is youthful young faces, the next generation. But other than that i cant say that there is anything else that brings the word “youth” to my head when the thought of renaissance is brought to my attention.

  13. I can feel youth in the Italian Renaiaasnce. At that time people want to create new style sculptures. when I saw these sculptures they tell me they want to show me they are youth. Even they are build in many years ago, but they still make feel they are youth.

  14. The Renaissance artists were a part of the re-birth of knowledge and what was basically to become Western civilization as we know it. Age cannot really have an impact on the process of reawakening. While the genius of Michelangelo and Raphael was in full swing very early in their chronological years, the art they produced displayed incredible maturity and focus. Youth is a valued attribute and it is a no brainer that a young David looks much more appealing than a seventy year old David. When we think of the future and feel hopeful about it, images of children and young people come into mind. Perhaps this is why only youth seemed to be synonymous with beauty during an age where people had the chance to begin to flourish once again.

  15. It is difficult to tell, but youth is certainly present in Renaissance art. It is this youth that enabled them to work painstakingly for years to create masterpieces that many older artists perhaps wouldn’t have even attempted. Without the exuberance and the curiosity that comes with youth, I doubt that Renaissance era art would be be the same.

  16. I believe that what the passage is actually trying to express is the “youth” mind. It is true that during the Renaissance most active minds are at their young ages. However, it is not the age that drove them to think advance and genius, it was the the “youth” in their mind made them do so.

  17. Every few years or so our society goes through a sort of paradigm shift fueled by the burgeoning interests of the youth which will eventually envelop society in its entirety. The Renaissance is a rebirth of many aspects as seen through the new eyes and fresh perspectives of the youth providing a new way to look at things which is reflected in the art of this period

  18. With a little effort, I do see youth inside of the Italian Renaissance. Gives me sort of a young feel when I look at it, like the passion can still be felt even today.

  19. I can understand how Berenson would feel that the Renaissance stands for youth. The time period was filled with free thinkers and new ideas. The expressions of art made definite statements, some of which seemed crude and irresponsible the older generations. Some characteristics of youthfulness are: vibrant, full of energy, high sexual desires, low regard for tradition or authority. All of these characteristics, as well as many other youthful characteristics that I did not list can be found in Renaissance art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s