Florence, Italy, was the center of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century, and home to many artists. It was a large, prosperous city heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Famous religious figures, such as the Madonna and Child, were featured in many artist’s works, which can still be found in the city’s churches and museums.
Each Florentine artist had a slightly different technique, but their styles and themes often overlapped. The most common style was naturalism or realism. This concept focused on creating realistic paintings and sculptures that were usually very detailed, precise, and life-like.
The most common medium used by 15th century painters was egg tempera on wooden panels. The paint was created by mixing powdered pigments with egg yolk and sometimes white wine or vinegar. Egg tempera often smelled strongly, even after the painting had completely dried. Many artists mixed myrrh (a pleasant-smelling resin) with their paint to mask the odor.
Egg tempera was a tricky paint to create and it took a skilled artist to master the medium. Thanks to egg tempera’s durability, some famous artists’ awe-inspiring works are still intact today – giving a first-hand view of the progression of art during the Renaissance.