The Italian and Northern Renaissances fostered new shifts in European thought, art and society. Although both movements have heavily affected the societies they have centered on, there are major differences between the movements.
The Italian Renaissance mainly focused on pagan and classical sources for its ideological center. The movement was heavily influenced by Ancient Roman thinkers and orators like Cicero, Pliny the Elder and Seneca the Younger. Even though the movement still adhered to Christianity, there was a larger focus on the individual's power to succeed and serve as a virtuous member of society.
Unlike the Italian Renaissance that was influenced by Ancient Rome, the Northern Renaissance used Christian sources to propel the movement. The Northern Renaissance continued to emphasize the role of an individual but combined the individual with a religious tone that wasn't apparent in the Italian Renaissance.
The ideals of the Italian Renaissance can be best depicted through paintings and architecture. Several famous painters in the era included Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Masaccio and Perguino. Subject matter during the era included religious scenes that focused on proportionality, linear perspective and showcasing the human figure. A major example is seen with various paintings in the Sistine Chapel, including "The Creation of Adam" and "The Delivery of the Keys."
While the Italian Renaissance paintings focused on Christian subjects, the Northern Renaissance paintings focused more on secular subjects such as a dinner feast. Famous painters from the Northern Renaissance include Jan van Eyck, Hans Holbein and Albrecht Durer.
The Italian peninsula consisted of strong city-states rather than broad geographical governments. Famous city-states at the time included Florence, Siena, Milan and Rome. Florence is well known at the time for being controlled by the Medici family, who patroned many artists and writers in the region.
The Northern Renaissance consisted governments with large land area under control. Examples include England, Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire.