By the dawn of the Renaissance (1400-1600), intellectual pursuits had begun to move away from the control of the Catholic Church. Universities in England (Cambridge and Oxford), France (Sorbonne), and medical and law schools in Italy advocated a scholastic reintroduction of Greek and Roman learning and new scientific methodologies. Fledgling interests in biology, botany, zoology, geography, and physics sought to balance the faith-based initiatives of the previous Medieval era.

Previously discussed examples such as Donatello’s St. Mark, 1411-13, and Michelangelo’s David, 1501-4, evidence the reintroduction of scientific studies in the fields of biology and human physiology. Michelangelo was one of the first artists to be allowed to perform dissections so that he could be scientifically accurate in his work. Donatello created full sized images first in plaster or clay in order to drape them in wet linen and improve the depiction of dress. When artists such as these incorporated naturalistic elements, they were deemed superior to those that had not; they were accorded a professional rather than craftsman status and were better compensated.