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Well.... during the early part of the Renaissance, art was all based on religion because of the iron grip the Papacy had on Europe, especially Italy. This can be illustrated through da Vinci's The Last Supper. Also, many popes and the clergy had started to become patrons of the arts during this time period. Later on though, when secularism, Humanism and invidualism started to gain momentum in European society, Christendom was broken into a mostly secular state. Here artists like Pieter Bruegel had freedom to choose their subjects. Many artists chose to paint about technological and idealogical innovation, such as the first combine harvester1 (JK). If you are taking a European History class, your textbook should cover the difference between the Northern and Italian Renaissances. The Northern Renaissance was far more secular in nature than the Renaissance because of its distance from the Vatican. Artists from here chose to paint landscapes and portraits, or daily life (usually of the upper class, who usually commissioned painters).

Example: Children's Games by Pieter Bruegel.

In Italy, the painters' messages were still more religious. Paintings by esteemed artists such as Michelangelo were slightly removed from Papal2 control, but not entirely.

Example: David by Michelangelo, Pieta by Michealangelo, The Last Supper by Leonardo da vinci.

So to sum it up: Renaissance thinkers and artists, most of whom could be considered humanists, were highly influenced by the society in which they lived. While the Church was in complete control, artists' works were completely dedicated to religion. When the Papacy lost control, artists' works became individualistic and secular. I hope this helps.

1 I was just kidding about the combine harvester thing hahaha. The combine harvester is a recent invention with its introduction being in 1836.

2 Your book probably spells Papal or Papacy with a lowercase "P."

About Me:

I'm currently a student at Stanford U and I am a chemistry major, but I have a strong passion for history. Just recently I completed a course on Medieval history. In high school I also took AP European History sophomore year.

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Q: How did renaissance thinkers and artists get ideas?
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