Historical Art Periods

Historical Art Periods


Art has its root from some of its earliest forms with creativity and detail being the outstanding additions throughout the various periods of human civilization. A remnant spirit of the oldest art inspiration persists to a certain level in the most modern art expression due to passing on of some defining elements. However, a lot of changes have occurred in human civilization as occasioned by the prevailing capacitation that the available resources present. These changes present the true position of art to the human society which ranges between both extreme measures of conservatism and liberalism in terms of social expression and heritage. Some roots of later civilizations can be traced from earlier ones to demonstrate the role of art in the evolution of the human society. In the following discourse, the Middle Ages and Renaissance art periods are analyzed for such similarities and differences to come to the conclusion of their roles on the status of art.

Middle Ages Art (300 to 1400 AD)

Some of the most famous ancient events of art are related to the period of time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the commencement of the Renaissance (300 and 1400 AD respectively). During this period, there was a transformation of a majority of the human society from traditional aspects of religion and the establishment of Christian belief. The power of the church on the human society during these transformations characterizes the driving force that art had in the Middle Ages. Churches and cathedrals had their fair share of influential pieces of art during this age to such an extent that the most famous mosaics and murals of modern art owe their credit to this age (ArtHistory, 2009). Christianity plays the central figure of influence on the prevailing social and cultural events that were taking place during the Middle Ages. This fact is supported by the fact that the most influential Christianity cities during these events represented by Rome and Constantinople bear witness to their status as art culture centers to this day. However, the use of images was prohibited in worship and the use of colors in painting was generally muted. Towards the end of the period, more realism was advocated for by artists in the advancement of images in art. Art was largely conservative in the application of art images infusion into worship. Perhaps to establish the conspicuous link that art exhibits with previous art periods, all these art events carry a characteristic Classical Period art roots. Some of the distinct art and styles within the Middle Age include; Celtic, Saxon, Hiberno, Byzantine, Justinian, Islamic, Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque and Gothic. Some of the outstanding artists included Donatello, Giotto, Cimabue, Fra Angelico and Filippo Brunelleschi (medieval-life-and-times.info, n.d).


Renaissance events took place between 300 AD and 1400 AD in more liberalized approach that departed from the mode of art events in the Middle Ages. The human society was undergoing transformations on more fronts which ranged from literature, political, religious, science as well as in art fronts. However, there are links with Middle Ages features that depicts art as a product of continuity of civilizations and thoughts enriched with certain changes. The church for instance plays a central role in the transformation since it presents the backdrop on which the developments took place. Middle Ages had muted use of color while Renaissance presented the platform for increased realism that culminated on three dimension representation. Fine art got embedded on many art expressions. Images got a finer touch of finishing with detail such as facial expressions and other human nature expressions being incorporated in art. As mentioned above, the characteristic trend of passing down some basic art elements from one period to the next happened between the Classic Age (800 BC to 300 AD) and the Middle Age (300 AD to 1400 AD). In a similar manner, the Middle Age passed on some of its civilization in form of art onto the later period represented by Renaissance (1400 AD to 1800 AD). Competition was more established in this period and influence among artists became an important element of growing this civilization into a stronger art period (arthistory-famousartists-paintings.com, n.d).


By ensuring that some elements of the Middle Ages were passed on to Renaissance, the artists perpetuated the cultural trend that was enshrined in the new religious practices thereby playing an important role in the civilization. By keeping in touch with the prevailing social, cultural and religions forces, it was possible for art in these periods to assist in society development processes. Inclusion of deviating detail in some respects added more expression capacity in art making it a full fledged tool dedicated for the work that it was intended. This represents growth and maturity of human civilization in a balance that could not be held at ransom by the conservative wings of the same civilization. Art therefore passes the test of human civilization tools which assist the human race to carry on important heritage while being keen to add flair and beauty at the same time (Schaeffer, 2000).


ArtHistory (2009) “Introduction to the History of Medieval Art.” Retrieved from: HYPERLINK “http://www.arthistory.net/artstyles/medievalart/medievalart1.html” http://www.arthistory.net/artstyles/medievalart/medievalart1.html

Arthistory-famousartists-paintings (n.d) “Renaissance Art.” Retrieved from: HYPERLINK “http://www.arthistory-famousartists-paintings.com/RenaissanceArt.html” http://www.arthistory-famousartists-paintings.com/RenaissanceArt.html

Medieval-life-and-times (n.d) “Medieval Art.” Retrieved from: HYPERLINK “http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-art/” http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-art/

Schaeffer, J. M. (2000) Art of the modern age: philosophy of art from Kant to Heidegger. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

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