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Alanna Russell

Humanities 200-03
Essay Option #7

Classical Greece and Rome Influence

The influence of Classical Greek and Roman culture on the works of art of the

Renaissance is so immense. Classical Greek art greatly emphasized the ideas of form,

balance, and order. It sought after idealism, always attempting to perfect nature. It

had a magnificent way of presenting its art, music, and culture in the most ideal of

ways. Roman art, on the other hand, was much more realistic and the architecture

was utilitarian. Its art was more naturalistic, always attempting to showcase nature

exactly as it appeared to be. It did not attempt to perfect every detail of nature, but

instead present its subject in a simple and ordinary state. These two cultures, both

thought of today as some of the greatest influences on art during the Renaissance

period, both had many qualities that affected the works of art that came from that

period of time.

As the Renaissance period started, there was a great interest in the

techniques used by classical Greece and Rome. The natural world became a subject

of many pieces of art, using techniques such as linear perspective to make the

subjects appear more “real”. The artist Masaccio who is known as the first

Renaissance artist, painted the “Enthroned Madonna and Child”. This painting

depicts a portrait of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. This painting has many

influences from Roman art. It shows a more real depiction of the Madonna and

Child. They look more human and the baby actually looks like a real baby. There is a

sense of proportion, which makes the painting appear more real. Just like Roman
art, which attempted to convey the most natural and real style of art, this painting

by Masaccio does the same.

A sculpture that displays the ideals of Classical Greek art of form, balance,

and order is Michelangelo’s “David”. The statue of David by Michelangelo was

created to display the city of Florence’s struggle for independence. The statue shows

the idealized human prospective of power, force, and muscle. It is of a young

sixteen-year old boy, showing the form and balance of a strong man. The strength in

this sculpture has influences from Classical Greek art showing the idealized human


Another work of art showcasing the ideas of form, balance, and order was the

ceiling of the Sistine Chapel located in the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Commissioned to

only paint a section of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo created this masterpiece on

the ceiling where each panel shows a different story from the Old Testament. It took

him about four years to complete the ceiling all by himself. The ceiling of the Sistine

Chapel showcases form, balance, and order with each different panel telling a

different story about God and the beginning of mankind. In the panel where God is

giving life to Adam, there is a great amount of form, balance, and order used to

depict such a strong statement in that painting. It shows the ideal human body, a

sense of balance, and many angels around God, perfecting the painting even more.

Michelangelo’s influence from Classical Greek art is showcased very much in his

Sistine Chapel work of art on the ceiling.

So many of the beliefs, works of art, and aspects of the Italian Renaissance

were made that way by the Classical Greek and Roman way of life. The way each had
their depictions of what rules art should follow, influenced the lives and thoughts of

the talented artists who came from the Italian Renaissance. The ideas of painting in

a natural way or in a way of showcasing all the strength of nature and the human

body came from so long ago and they had such an immense influence on the

masterpieces we still get to look at today.