Due to the fact that different periods showed social classes in countless ways, social classes show the style of art from different periods. This remains true even though the Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance use different styles and ideas to show the middle class. The social classes were represented differently by the people and styles.
In the time of Early Italian Renaissance art, the social classes that were peasants, middle class, clergy, and nobility. Each class meant something different, so if you were peasants, you worked mostly on rural dirt farms. If you were the middle class that was created because of guilds, which made them have more money than peasants. They became an important member of society even though they weren’t a duke. Clergy meant that you were associated with the church, so you were higher up than peasants. If you were nobility, you owned land and had money. The stone-carved Guild Scene shows the sculpture guild making new sculptures on it. There was a system to the guilds that went apprentice to journeymen to master. While you are an apprentice you had to do menial work for several years just to be moved up to a journeyman. A journeyman is graduated to more responsibilities for several more years before making it to master. A master is the final step in a guild in which you open up your own shop, take in an apprentice, but first, you had to present a masterpiece of your creation and have to be qualified. As shown on the Guild Scene you can see some sculptures that are journeymen and masters showing an apprentice what to do. The guilds of painters and sculptors charged more for their art and became rich creating the middle class. In the Early Italian Renaissance, you saw a lot of art created from guilds making them artists more and more rich making them work their way up the social classes. Some members of the guilds worked up from the middle class to higher up just because of the money.
During the time of High Italian Renaissance art, you can see many religious paintings showing social class. As you can see in ‘The Last Supper’ with it being a very religious painting the location is of high importance. The location of ‘The Last Supper’ is in a cafeteria of monks showing that the clergy paid for it and it represented religion since the painting was painted there. There are six people on each side of Jesus showing the balanced composition of them all gesturing to Jesus showing that he is either higher class or he is just higher in the class of people who are there. The color of robes even having meanings for social class. The red robes mean high social status in the church, orange means peasants and middle class imitating upper class, beige means poverty class, grays mean religious and show the poverty class, and black means nobility and wealthy.
In the time of Northern Renaissance art the peasants or unskilled workers were the lowest class because they didn’t have job protection and were dependent on their jobs. Middle class/tradesmen were craft workers and shopkeepers and belonged to guilds. The merchants gained their wealth in industries like wool processing, shipbuilding, and banking. The nobilities were warriors, soldiers, and social talents with a lot of money and status. ‘Les Tres Riches Heures’ show the months of January and February out of the calendar. On the January side, you can see a feast of people. You see Duke of Berry sitting in a chair wearing a blue peacock feather dress with a brown hat on. You can see all the nobility and underlings around bringing gifts to show signs of loyalty and social contracting going on. Most of the people are captains and lieutenants pledging loyalty. Again, on ‘Les Tres Riches Heures’ on the February side, you see people of the working class. It shows a strong estate because the people are working. It also shows the land and people being productive. Each month of the calendars shows different classes doing different jobs. For example, you have jobs for each month like wool harvesting, making honey and mead, and knocking out acorns.
As seen above different periods showed social classes in countless ways, social class reflects the style of the art from different periods. The Early Italian Renaissance used guilds to represent the middle class. The Northern Renaissance used calendars to show the different classes. The High Italian Renaissance used gestures, colors/clothes, and locations to show the different classes. Each period displays social classes in numerous ways and still does to this day.