Just as the Romans were often known as Greek imitators, the artists of the Renaissance took a big interest in ancient Greek and Roman art. Therefore, the Renaissance came to be known as an era of revival, one in which the influence of Greek and Roman art was seen in both art and architecture. Pieces such as the Palazzo Rucellai, David, and Birth of Venus are all noted for being composed of both Greek and Roman elements and styles.
The Palazzo Rucellai stands as a landmark Renaissance palace, designed in 1446 by well-known Italian architects Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino. The humanistic influence of the 15th century is noted in its composition, but most importantly, the structural elements of ancient Rome are incorporated within the structure. The Roman-like arches, pilasters, and entablatures give the impression of strength. The pilasters are composed of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders which are reminiscent of the Colosseum. Just as the pilasters of the Colosseum are used for a decorative purpose, the ones of the Palazzo Rucellai also depart from simply providing structural support.
The David sculpture was created by the notorious Donatello. Donatello was known for his studies of Greek and Roman art, which allowed for him to make a connection between the classical world and the Renaissance. The Greek formula for contrapposto is noted in this sculpture, as his weight appears to be mostly on the right foot while the left leg seems to be more relaxed. The Greek influence is also demonstrated as David is fully nude, which departs from the clothed Biblical figures of the Gothic era and instead resonates Greek conventions. Just as the Greek Kritios Boy is described as “the first beautiful nude in art,” the bronze David was the first freestanding nude of the Renaissance.
The Birth of Venus, created by Sandro Botticelli, also appears to carry Greek and Roman influences into the Renaissance era in which it was constructed. Just like the Roman marble Aphrodite of Menophantos, the Birth of Venus employs the Capitoline Venus pose in which Venus covers her breasts with her right arm and her groin with her left arm. An obvious allusion to Roman art is the use of the Roman goddess Venus as the subject of the painting. The use of classical subject matter is strategical as it appeals to the rich Florentines who patronized such pieces.
The Renaissance is known as the “rebirth” or “revival” of Greek and Roman styles and conventions. Such Greek and Roman influences are well noted in the Italian-made pieces such as The Palazzo Rucellai, which can be compared to the Colosseum, David, which can be compared to the Kritios Boy, and The Birth of Venus, which can be compared to the Aphrodite of Menophantos. It is this revival that is credited with helping European artists and architects depart from Gothic styles, among others, while bringing back notorious Greek and Roman ones.