Gothic to Renaissance

The Renaissance was preceded by International Gothic, a style of art and architecture that continued into the first decades of the 1400s. In Gothic art figures appear static, lacking depth, volume and pictorial realism. Artists favoured backgrounds of gold-leaf that embellished the image and accentuated its flatness. Figures become more three-dimensional, their movement fluid and natural. Detailed landscapes or Classical architectural settings demonstrate new theories of perspective.

Sacred imagery—Jesus, Mary and saints—was no longer the only subject for art. Spurred on by humanist concepts derived through the revival of Greco-Roman texts, Renaissance artists made humans central to their paintings. However, the shift from Gothic to Renaissance ideas was slow and, as a result, many paintings from the first half of the fifteenth century remain rooted in the older tradition.