(1400 – 1600) Italy became a center of commerce between Europe and Eurasia, thus a Cultural Diffusion point between the Europeans and the Muslims. Also, Italy was home to many wealthy families, willing to finance education. The Medici family ruled Florence and advocated the arts and sciences. These aristocrats among others would pay people to learn and create for them, spreading knowledge into the lower classes. With this rebirth of intellect came the greater interest in Ancient Greek and Roman culture that inspired the revival of Classicism. The Italian Renaissance is divided into three major phases: Early, High, and Late Renaissance. The Early Renaissance was lead by sculptor Donatello, architect Filippo Brunelleschi, and painter Masaccio. They began the movement on the foundations that development and progress was integral to the evolution and survival of the arts. They found their inspiration form antiquity, creating realistic figures that portrayed personality and behavior. They focused on the laws of proportion for architecture, the human body, and space. The term Early Renaissance encompasses most 15th century art. The High Renaissance sought to create a generalized style of art that focused on drama, physical presence, and balance. The major artists of this period were Leonardo Da Vinci, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. The period lasted only a short time from 1495 to 1520. The Late Renaissance was put into motion by the sack of Rome in 1527, forcing artists to relocate to other artistic centers in Italy, France, and Spain. During this time, anti-classical sentiments began to emerge, eventually developing into the Mannerist movement. Throughout the Renaissance period, artists first began to experiment with oil-based paints, mixing powdered pigments with linseed oil. The slow-drying nature of the medium allowed the painter to edit his work for several months. Perspective and attention to light became important to artists, as well as architectural accuracy in backgrounds. Popular subject matter included Biblical characters and subjects from Greek and Roman mythology. Renaissance art placed a large emphasis on the importance of the Madonna in art. Taking inspiration from classical Roman and Greek art, Renaissance artist were also interested in the human body, particularly the nude. They attempted to idealize the human form and were shown in physical perfection and purity with expression and unique personality. During this period, the gap dividing other creative thinkers such as poets, essayists, philosophers and scientists from artists began to decrease.