The accumulation of artistic work was lost at once and the accumulation of intellectual heritage was dispersed, ultimately resulting in a discontinuation of the practice of classical art. In the following middle ages, the intellectual stagnancy gripped the field of art in Europe. The church had taken an impregnable position exercising great control over society and politics. Hence in the period from around the fifth to the fourteenth century CE and no remarkable development was observed in the field of art.
This intellectual stagnancy of the middle ages was challenged by the renaissance that began in the fourteenth century in Italy and especially in Florence. Humanism, an important aspect of the early renaissance was introduced. It advocated a philosophy and attitude that emphasized the dignity and worth of an individual. This resulted in larger amount of personal freedom in terms of thinking, behavior and the expression of ideas. The grips of church loosened from the society and a class of free thinkers and artist emerged which made considerable contributions in the field of arts, sciences and philosophy. Humanism developed principally in the fields of literature and art and late medieval writers like Dante, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Francesco Petrarch contributed to the rediscovery and preservation of classical works.
Florence became the center of humanism when the Cosimo de Medici, statesman and patron of the arts from Florence, established the 'Humanist Academy', a school for the learning devoted to the philosophy of humanism. This academy had the support of leading thinker like Marsilio Ficino and trained many artists; one of them was the young Michelangelo. The institution sought to revive Platonism and had a remarkable influence on the literature, painting, and sculpting of the times. With this, humanism became popular in Florence and Rome at the end of fourteenth century.
The humanists would study the Latin literature of the classical period. By the mid of fifteenth century, humanism had become an identifiable curricula in the schools of Florence. The humanist rediscovery included the use of classical grammar, rhetoric, philosophy of morals, poetry and history. They relied upon the original texts of classical period rather than reading interpretations and translations by other writers, and especially avoided any writing having and influence of church or religious texts, which at times created deviations from the original work and therefore they were interested in classical Latin and not in Medieval Latin.
With the introduction of classical literature, other fields of arts like sculpting were also reexamined by the artists. They explored the classical art and replicated the classical statues. Sometimes it was replicated in all its aspects with little or no modifications at all. Nude sculptures, which were an important section of classical art was thus introduced. This art of creating a nude was gradually imitated, mastered and later challenged by artists like Michelangelo when he created David, which not only displayed exquisite proportions but also added emotional content in the sculptures which was missing in the classical art.
In principality, the humanists believed that the ancient world comprising of Greece, Rome and the surrounding Mediterranean regions reached the zenith in terms of artistic and intellectual development and that the produces of that era