Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely; one proposed starting point is 1401, when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won).
Others see more general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking the creativity of the Renaissance.
In the revival of neo-Platonism Renaissance humanists did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance's greatest works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of Renaissance art.
However, a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life.
This analysis argues that, whereas the great European states (France and Spain) were absolutist monarchies, and others were under direct Church control, the independent city republics of Italy took over the principles of capitalism invented on monastic estates and set off a vast unprecedented commercial revolution that preceded and financed the Renaissance.
Many argue that the ideas characterizing the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th-century Florence, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Petrarch (1304–1374), as well as the paintings of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337).
Wealth was brought to Italy in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries by expanding trade into Asia and Europe.
Silver mining in Tyrol increased the flow of money.
David, by Michelangelo (1501–1504), Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence, Italy, is a masterpiece of Renaissance and world art.
Depicting the Hebrew prophet-prodigy-king David as a muscular Greek athlete, the Christian humanist ideal can be seen in the statue's grand features, posture, and attitude; this ideal can also be seen in other great works of art from early modern Italy.