The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a stage in the history of Italian culture that, to a large extent, paved the way for the art of the Renaissance. The Swiss historian J. Burckhardt was the first to use the term “proto-Renaissance.”

The proto-Renaissance period flourished in the 13th and early 14th centuries. Its emergence during the 12th century was connected with the rise of the free Italian cities, especially in Tuscany, where handicraft production and trade were developing rapidly and many antifeudal reforms were introduced.

Proto-Renaissance art was marked by sensual-visual representations of the real world, a secular principle, and a profound interest in the classical legacy of antiquity. Some art historians have identified the earliest manifestations of the proto-Renaissance in Tuscan architecture of the 11th to 13th centuries. The architecture was marked by polychromatic marble incrustation, fine proportional articulation of the walls, and classical architectural details that counteracted the heaviness of the Romanesque style. Gothic elements in proto-Renaissance architecture, as seen in the work of Arnolfo di Cambio and others, imparted balance and tranquility to the structures. A feeling of three-dimensionality and influences of late classical art are inherent in proto-Renaissance sculpture (for example, the work of Nicola Pisano and others). The painters of the period, including P. Cavallini of Rome and especially Giotto of Florence, achieved a remarkable tangibility and material persuasiveness of form.

Analogous phenomena—particularly a heightening of the sensual verisimilitude of images—are evident in Italian literature of this period, represented by the poetry of Dante and of the dolce stil nuovo (sweet new style) school. Proto-Renaissance tendencies, which coexisted with widespread Gothic currents throughout the trecento, were adopted by such artists of the Early Renaissance as F. Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Masac-cio.


Alpatov, M. V. Ital’ianskoe iskusstvo epokhi Dante i Dzhotto. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Lazarev, V. N. Proiskhozhdenie ital’ianskogo Vozrozhdeniia, vol. 1: Iskusstvo Protorenessansa. Moscow, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Deguilmo sensitively calibrated the harrowing mood of the painting through a montage of images: the rickety wooden bridge in the landscape now reduced to a decrepit, skeletal frame; a sneering Joker attired in elegant barong Tagalog; a furious Donald Duck, painted an allusive brilliant yellow; and most damning of all, a lift from a proto-Renaissance painting by Giotto depicting Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.
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The lyrics and laments of Petrarch -- who significantly expressed his proto-Renaissance thoughts in Latin and Italian -- celebrated Rome and its past glories, and his visit to the city in 1341, when he was crowned with laurels as `poet laureate' on the Capitol, acted as a catalyst for the aspirations of Rienzi, whose friend and supporter Petrarch became.
But if his work of 1924, Die deutsche Plastik des elften bis dreizehnten Jahrhunderts, reflected Goldschmidt's influence, Panofsky's writings of the 1940s and early 1950s on Gothic art show an entirely different spirit.(19) His introduction to Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and Its Art Treasures, for example, depicts a man with whom Panofsky evidently felt a great deal of sympathy.(20) Panofsky may have insisted that Suger, despite his strength as an individual, should not be interpreted as a proto-Renaissance figure.
The early sixteenth-century Manueline architecture of the Jeronimos monastery was one of the results of the wealth they brought back from the Indies: an amazing, wildly optimistic cocktail of very late Gothic, proto-Renaissance and Oriental themes without parallel in the world then or since.