Explain, with examples, the ways in which the Renaissance spirit of a rediscovery of the classics and the new Humanist ways of thinking were expressed in the design and content of the Italian Renaissance garden.
The Renaissance spirit of renewing Man’s relationship with God and Nature through science and bringing Classical texts back into light caused an evolution in the elements of the garden. Gardens progressed from confined medieval cloister gardens and began to become more extensive and placed in an outward fashion with a more human rather than spiritual focus. The Italian Renaissance garden was the direct result of Humanist ideology, which placed principal value on individual human beings and encouraged scientific rationale. Humanists believed Classical texts consisted of the vital moral messages used to lead a productive life. They put emphasis on education and were eager for knowledge. Ritual religious practice, for example in the Catholic Church, was unimportant to them. They wanted to understand the occurrences in the Bible.
Medieval features were translated by the classical standards of order and beauty. Architecture was emphasized and the landscape was considered when designing the garden. The Roman villa was redesigned, with terraces and a gradual descent into the courtyard. It was crucial that the view of the garden was united with the landscape. Linear perspective positions man in the middle of the perceptible field. The emphasis on perspective and calculation used in connecting house and garden translated into axes, cross axes and vistas. Converging lines meant that objects became smaller when near the vanishing point. Man moved away from viewing himself as being judged and looked down upon by God. Man became the center of everything when rendered in linear perspective, or possibly standing at the axis of a garden.
Pleasure was a paramount function of Renaissance gardens. Classical statues, fountains, topiary and hedges were featured but the statues were integrated into the architecture. Along with the expansive views and open courtyard, the Renaissance garden was a place for party, pleasure and intellectual conversation. Humanism altered interpretation of the physical world to situate man God on a more balanced level. The garden established a reflection of cultural interest by bringing together arts and sciences and placing importance on how humans experienced it.