Renaissance, a French term which has come to describe the 'rebirth' of interest in classical art and learning, above all from Italy, from the early 14th to the mid 16th centuries. The term is applied as a stylistic label to the art of these centuries.
The rediscovery of ancient coins, sculpture and philosophical ideas contributed to debates in societies that were already changing. New religious practices placed greater emphasis on naturalistic art that could tell stories. Ancient sculpture offered extraordinary examples of this, stimulating contemporary artists who were already exploring believable ways to represent the world around them.
The system of mathematical perspective (which created the illusion of depth in a flat painting) was invented in Italy, while Netherlandish artists developed oil painting, which allowed them to achieve highly realistic effects.