However, the artistic focus of the Renaissance took a different approach to expression from that of their predecessors. The lessons learned from the ancients contributed significantly to the technical developments in ‘realistic’ painting that emerged during this period through the efforts of a variety of famous artists including Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. In order to fully understand the artistic revival in painting that took place during this time period, it is necessary to understand the developments each of these artists contributed to the world of art in general and why the ancient world was of particular importance to them.
Artists in Florence were able to quickly link the mathematical knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans to the proportional focus of their own world. Mathematics was a well-understood concept to the general population of Italy due to its primary importance in commerce. Painters used their foundational knowledge in geometry to create familiar elements in their paintings that would convey their intentions to the greatest possible audience. “In the same way that a painter could reduce the human form or settings to a play of geometrical figures, so could the merchant simplify all things to geometrical configurations” (Lemaitre & Lessing, 1993: 15). By melding mathematics and artistic expression, artists discovered how to provide their figures with a new impression of weight and volume that had not been previously achieved. This new ability to provide realism in a painting led to even greater explorations into how the world around them manifested itself in visual awareness. This attention to the science of representation eventually led to a systematic development of ever more realistic methods of portraying an image such as the development of dimension, perspective rules, atmospheric interpretation and textural