Renaissance art was produced in Europe in the historical period called the Renaissance. Broadly considered, the period covers the 200 years between 1400 and 1600, although specialists disagree on exact dates.
The word renaissance literally means "rebirth" and is the French translation of the Italian rinascita. The two principal components of Renaissance style are the following: a revival of the classical forms originally developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and an intensified concern with secular life-interest in humanism and assertion of the importance of the individual.
Artists studied the effect of light out-of-doors and how the eye perceives all the diverse elements in nature. They developed aerial perspective, in which objects become increasingly less distinct and less sharply colored as they recede from the eye of the viewer. Although the portrait also developed as a specific genre in the mid-15th century, Renaissance painters achieved the greatest latitude with the history, or narrative, picture, in which figures located within a landscape or an architectural environment act out a specific story, taken either from classical mythology or Judeo-Christian tradition.
The Renaissance of the arts coincided with the development of humanism, in which scholars studied and translated philosophical texts. The Renaissance was also a period of avid exploration; sea captains began to be more daring in seeking new routes to Asia, which resulted in the discovery and eventual colonization of North and South America. Painters and sculptors exhibited a similar sense of adventure and the desire for greater knowledge and new solutions; Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, like Christopher Columbus, discovered whole new worlds.