AskDefine | Define quattrocento

Dictionary Definition

quattrocento n : the 15th century in Italian art and literature

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  1. the 1400s, the 15th century Renaissance Italian period



  1. four hundred


quattrocento m (uncountable)

Extensive Definition

The cultural and artistic events of 15th century Italy are collectively referred to as the Quattrocento (from the Italian for '400, or from "millequattrocento," 1400). Quattrocento encompasses the artistic styles of the late Middle Ages (most notably International Gothic) and the early Renaissance.

Historical context

After the decline of the Western Roman Empire in 476, economic disorder and disruption of trade spread across Europe. This was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages, which lasted roughly until the 11th century, when trade picked up, population began to expand and the papacy regained its authority.
In the late Middle Ages, the political structure of the European continent slowly evolved from small, highly unstable fiefdoms into larger nation-states ruled by monarchies, thereby providing greater stability. In Italy, urban centers arose that were populated by merchant and trade classes, who were able to defend themselves. Money replaced land as the medium of exchange, and increasing numbers of serfs became freedmen. The changes in Medieval Italy and the decline of feudalism paved the way for social, cultural, and economic changes. The Quattrocento is viewed as the transition from the Medieval period to the age of the Renaissance.
Quattrocento lay at the forefront of what was to become the Italian Renaissance. Its international manifesto resembles a happening of cultural and artistic events during the 15th century which embraced the artistic styles of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance: a forefront collection of high-end individualism in the arts to promote the presence of a scientific, cultural, social and economic revolution in hope of preserving the Monarchy through Christianity.

Development of Quattrocento styles

Quattrocento art shed the decorative mosaics typically associated with Byzantine art along with the Christian and Gothic media of and styles in stained glass, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts and sculpture. Instead, Quattrocento artists and sculptors incorporated the more classic forms developed by Roman and Greek sculptors.

List of Italian Quattrocento artists

Since the Quattrocento overlaps with part of the Renaissance movement, it would be inaccurate to say that a particular artist was Quattrocento or Renaissance. Artists of the time probably would not have identified themselves as members of a movement.
Also see the list of 27 prominent 15th century painters made contemporaneously by Giovanni Santi, Raphael Sanzio's father as part of a poem for the Duke of Urbino.

See also

  • Trecento-the 14th century in Italian culture
  • Cinquecento- the 16th century in Italian culture
  • Seicento- the 17th century in Italian culture


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