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Raphael's "School of Athens"

The Renaissance was a period in European history that lasted from approximately 1350 to 1640, during which Europe experienced a cultural "rebirth"; the classics were rediscovered, humanism became a widespread political movement, the power of the Catholic Church declined, and art was promoted. The Renaissance had its start in the Italian city-state of Florence, and the movement would later spread to Venice, Milan, Rome, England, Germany, Scandinavia, and Spain, becoming a major movement in Western Europe, Central Europe, and Northern Europe. Petrarch is considered to be the "father of the Renaissance" due to his rediscovery of the Roman politician Cicero's letters, but there were many other causes of the era, including the creation of a middle class as the result of the Black Death, the preservation of Greek and Roman works by the Muslims, and the ensuing renewed interest in old works. Families such as the House of Medici and the House of Este gave patronage to artists, funding them and allowing for them to produce masterpieces, bringing prestige to the patrons. The era would see the rise of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Giovanni Boccaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea del Verrocchio, Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Durer, William Shakespeare, and Francis Bacon, and it came to an end during the 17th century, when the Scientific Revolution and the age of Enlightenment began.

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