Italy: Revival and Innovation
Despite the need to revise the accepted account of the Renaissance, which presents the Italians as active and creative and other Europeans as passive and imitative, it is impossible not to start with Italy. This section is therefore concerned with the principal changes in the arts, literature and ideas from Giotto (d. 1337) to Tintoretto (1518-94), and from Petrarch (1304–74) to Tasso (1544–95). It will attempt to replace these changes — whether revivals or innovations — in their cultural and social contexts. It is obvious enough that there was no lack of creative individuals in this period, men — they were indeed males for the most part — who impressed their personalities on their works. All the same, if we look at the course of cultural change in Italy over the long term, over the three hundred years 1300–1600, it becomes equally obvious that the achievements are collective in the sense that small groups worked together and that each generation built on the work of its predecessors. In a relatively brief essay it seems best to stress the collective and to try to see the Renaissance movement as a whole.
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