On our group’s fifth day of the trip, we traveled out of Milan and over to the wonderful city of Florence. During the drive, our group stopped at a rest-stop to purchase snacks for the rest of our ride and I was able to try Italian wafers and chocolate espresso! After our group arrived at the hotel and grabbed lunch, we went to the world renowned Uffizi Art Gallery near the Duomo in Florence. The emphasis of the gallery is Renaissance art, our guide mentioned this style of art is prominent in a city like Florence, which was a thriving cultural hub during the Renaissance period. Florence continues to be a cultural hub in Italy and attracts millions of tourists from across the world every year. Many of the pieces focused on the particular scene of the birth of Jesus Christ with an emphasis on Virgin Mary (this is not surprising as Roman Catholicism was and continues to be the dominant religion of Italy). I noticed that many of the depictions of the Virgin Mary had her wearing blue or red clothing. I asked our tour guide what the significance of these two colors was and she explained how blue signified charity red signified purity, which are both accurate descriptors of Virgin Mary’s character in the Bible. In many of these paintings, all of the characters tend to have somber expressions on their faces. This makes sense due to the seriousness of the birth of Christ and how the religious leaders of the day approached this topic. Also, in many of the other pieces that I saw around the museum, it appeared that a somber facial expression was common during the Renaissance period. Especially when those coming from royalty or wealthy families as they most likely believed that a serious facial expression would portray them as more serious and powerful.
With regards to clothing trends that I saw in many of the Renaissance Period paintings, there were quite a few trends between men and women’s apparel in these paintings. One trend that I picked up on was that all of the clothing, regardless of gender, was loose and poorly fitting. It did not matter that the people were often religious or political leaders of the time and were generally quite wealthy, all of the clothing was loose and often resembled something like a robe. This type of wear seems impractical for the day when there was no air conditioning or internal cooling systems. Furthermore, a robe would not be practical to do manual labor or even carry out regular day to day operations. Naturally, the people must have been warm and their clothes were simply not aesthetically pleasing. I’m assuming the quality of these robes must have been very high and producers used luxurious fabrics, I could not imagine the poor quality of clothing articles for those citizens who were less fortunate and could not afford a portrait painting. I would imagine that the people in robes in these Renaissance paintings did not have to do manual labor, hence why they could wear robes all day. Another trend that I noticed was how artists did not make concerted efforts to distinguish the differences between men and women in these paintings. Often, the facial features are very similar in these paintings and the main distinguishing factors are the length of hair. I found it strange that there was a lack of emphasis on differentiating men and women in an era where portraits and egos were emphasized in these paintings.
In closing, the Renaissance was a time of progression for the culture. Paintings were the only way to create a snapshot of the attitude, area, and people of the time. These paintings often differ in how the people in power dressed and the colors they wore. Often their colors reflected subliminal meanings and their clothes were not practical for daily wear. Furthermore, many of the paintings during this time period reflected a biblical story or emphasized the status of an individual. All of these aspects went into creating complex paintings that had many layers and subliminal meanings. Though many of the pieces our group saw were deeply influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, these paintings reflected the mindset of the culture that was occurring in The Renaissance period, specifically in Florence.