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            Compared to the art of the middle ages, the art of the renaissance is more visually accurate and secular. This is due to the source of funding for the arts, revival of Greco-Roman style, humanism and the invention of new artistic techniques.
            The addition of visual accuracy in art, such as the inclusion of perspective, vanishing point and shading were brought about by humanism, influence of Greco-Roman artistic style and invention.
Humanism indicated that humans were capable, positive beings, so depicting them realistically, even glorifying them, was no longer taboo, as is seen in Michelangelo's David.

Ancient statues of people were often realistic nudes, a theme copied by renaissance artists, such as Mantegna.

Invention and scientific discovery also led to realism. Anatomical study led to accuracy in depicting humans, such as the sketch for the Libyan Sibyl on the Sistine Ceiling.

Bellini began using brighter, stronger colors and oil paints led to subtle color and shading differences. These were used by artists to show natural outdoor lighting and shadowing accurately.
The discovery of a vanishing point led to linear and aerial perspective and more natural interaction between figures and backgrounds, such as the softening of contours. The figures related to each other and the background both proportionally and rationally; objects further away were smaller, less distinct and less sharply colored compared to medieval art.

Mantegna opened the walls and ceilings into one of his frescos, making the real and painted worlds difficult to separate. Painting became viewed as a representation of the natural world. Painters then felt responsible to study and correctly portray landscape scenes.
Having a realistic background at all was new to renaissance art when compared to medieval art.

The depiction of natural and architectural backgrounds indicates not only realism, creativity and appreciation of physical nature on the part of the artist, but that the purpose of the art was decoration and self-expression, unlike the middle ages, when art was used to illustrate and convey church stories for the illiterate masses.

Depictions of battle scenes, such as the Bayeux Tapestry, were nearly the only secular art works during the middle ages.

Artists were seen less like artisans who created skilled or unskilled pieces, and more like poets who expressed their own interests and feelings in their work.
            The fact that the art of the middle ages is almost exclusively religious and that secular themes are abundant in the art of the renaissance is due to source of funding, Greco-Roman influence and humanism.
During the renaissance, patrons of the arts were wealthy individuals, not just the church. They demanded portrayals of themselves and other non-religious motifs.

Architecture also changed; instead of the gothic cathedral spires which connected heaven and earth for people in the middle ages, renaissance architecture revived Roman structural elements such as arches, vaults and domes. The classical columnar system was revived by Brunelleschi, who developed linear perspective and designed the octagonal dome of the Florence Cathedral. Alberti, who publicized ancient and contemporary practices in his theoretical works on painting, sculpture, and architecture, designed a flattened temple-front system for the Santa Maria Novella façade in Florence.

When an artist was able to choose their subject matter, the practice of creating secular art enabled them to have more freedom, because they no longer assumed that their art had to be religious. The idea of arête, a life focused on creating art and beauty, indicates that art was no longer seen exclusively as a means to express faith in Christianity, but also an end within itself.
Italian artists were surrounded by Greco-Roman art, and the revival of classical ideals led them to portray pagan scenes, such as the birth of Venus.

Humanism condoned the depiction of individuals that was popularized through the patronage of wealthy persons.
            Secular funding, Greco-Roman influence, humanism and the development of new artistic techniques, caused the art of the renaissance to be less focused on the church and more realistic than the art of the middle ages.