The smooth transition from
the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such
events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World,"
which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his
world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential
contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of
Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the
all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the
concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the
nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up
political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas,
Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.
Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca.
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.
Paris, 7 June 1848; d Atuona, Marquesas Islands, 8 May 1903.
printmaker, sculptor and ceramicist. His style developed from Impressionism through a
brief cloisonnist phase (in partnership with Emile Bernard) towards a highly personal
brand of Symbolism, which sought within the tradition of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes to
combine and contrast an idealized vision of primitive Polynesian culture with the
sceptical pessimism of an educated European. A selfconsciously outspoken personality and
an aggressively asserted position as the leader of the Pont-Aven group made him a dominant
figure in Parisian intellectual circles in the late 1880s. His use of non-naturalistic
colour and formal distortion for expressive ends was widely influential on early
20th-century avant-garde artists.