I think that Ancient Rome had the greatest influence in the development of Western Art. Most of the images that we associate with art stem from the Renaissance and the Renaissance was a revival of Ancient Roman ideas, art and architecture. One of the most famous paintings in the western world, The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo DaVinci, was heavily influenced by classical Roman art during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a period in time when Europeans began to question the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and its emphasis on preparing for the hereafter. During the Renaissance, painters and architects became interested in questioning the church’s domination over their lives and in exploring the natural world around them. Some of the most famous paintings in the history of the world were creating during this time, including the Mona Lisa.
The subject of The Mona Lisa, widely considered to be the most famous painting in the history of the world, is generally thought to be the wife of a prominent merchant. (Monalisa.org) In Medieval times, most art was commissioned by the Holy Catholic Church so often times what was depicted were scenes from the Bible. During the Renaissance, artists started to paint and sculpt non-religious subjects and even characters from Greek and Roman mythology. Also artists in the Renaissance were concerned with human anatomy, they focused on depicting human beings as they actually looked like.
Even when Renaissance artists painted religious subjects, they painted them in simple clothing in rustic settings, to remind the common people that their religious figures came from the lower class just like them. Giotto di Bondone’s Annunciation, which depicted the angel visiting the Virgin Mary, is set in the country. Tommaso Guildi gave the subjects of his paintings expressions full of emotions. His famous painting, Cacciata di Adamo ed Eva dal paradiso terrestre, portrays Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. You can see the agony and shame on their faces.
Sandro Botticelli often depicted Greek and Roman mythological figures in his paintings. One of the most famous images in the Western World is Botticelli’s painting, The Birth of Venus, which portrays the Greek and Roman goddess of love, Venus, emerging from a large clam. Venus and Mars is another Botticelli painting that depicts Venus and her brother god, Mars, the god of war. Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman is another Botticelli painting as is The Story of Lucretia. Lucretia was a young Roman woman who was raped by the King of Italy’s son. She committed suicide out of shame. This act was a catalyst for the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Roman Republic.
The sculptor, Donatello, also had a profound effect on western sculpture. His life like sculpture was famous during the Renaissance. Author and artist, Giorgio Vasari described his work: “There is a marvelous suggestion of life bursting out of the stone.” Donatello’s sculpture of the biblical hero, David, influenced Michelangelo’s famous David. Both sculptures were directly influenced by the Ancient Roman Artist Tradition. (arthistoryblogger.blogspot.com)
Some of the most famous works of art in the world come from the Renaissance and the Renaissance was directly influenced by Ancient Rome, thus Ancient Rome has had the most profound effect on the development of Western Art.