A Critical Discussion And Evaluation Of The Approach Apple (Headquartered In The US) Could Take In Implementing Human Resource Development Strategies And Practices Of Performance Management In Its Subsidiaries In South Africa (Sa) Sample Paper

This paper analyses and examines potential methods that Apple Inc., headquartered in the United States, can use to introduce performance management tactics and techniques to its SA affiliates as part of its human resource development efforts. This topic is central to examining how cultural, environmental, and regulatory variations between the US and SA affect the efficacy of various human resource development strategies and practices. The term “human resource development” (HRD) is used to describe the methodical approach taken towards fostering in workers a deeper understanding of their jobs and a more expansive set of competencies that will help them succeed in them (De Cieri, 2017). In contrast, performance management is an ongoing method of monitoring and enhancing individual and team efforts toward organizational objectives (Brown et al., 2019). Apple, a worldwide firm with operations in several countries, including South Africa, needs to execute strong human resource development (HRD) and performance management techniques to fulfill its goals. However, there are a number of obstacles unique to HR management in an international context. Therefore, it is essential to weigh the efficacy of alternative approaches.

This paper offers an analytical assessment of the methods Apple may use to introduce HRD concepts and practices of performance management at its SA affiliates. In this paper, I will discuss and then argue against many scholarly and ethical criticisms of a potential IHRM strategy for Apple’s human resources department. In light of Apple’s business and unique organizational structure, this essay will examine the difficulties of overseeing HRM globally. The essay will also investigate the cultural and environmental factors that affect Apple’s HRM function in the US and South Africa, and it will assess whether an ethnocentric or polycentric strategy is more appropriate for Apple.

Comparative Analysis of IHRM Strategies

Organizations can take several approaches to manage their human resources on a global scale by implementing International Human Resource Management (IHRM) techniques (Tarique et al., 2022). A company’s size, industry, corporate culture, and the cultural, legal, and economic climate of the country in which it operates all play a role in determining which IHRM approach is best. The ethnocentric approach to IHRM involves a company’s HR policies and procedures being identical in every one of its overseas branches (Dickmann, 2021). This strategy presumes that HR practices established in the parent company’s country can successfully be implemented in overseas affiliates. However, due to cultural and legal variations, this strategy may not be helpful when dealing with cross-cultural difficulties. As an example, Apple’s HR policies and practices in the United States may not be suitable for its SA subsidiaries due to the country’s unique employment laws and regulations.

Another IHRM tactic that emphasizes regional adaptation is called the polycentric approach (Andersson et al., 2019). This method considers the cultural and legal distinctions between nations and adjusts HR policies accordingly. The polycentric method may be useful in dealing with cross-cultural issues since it takes into account and accounts for regional differences. On the other hand, if HR policies and procedures are not standardized across divisions, there may be confusion and extra work for everyone involved. Additionally, the geocentric strategy combines host and home countries’ best human resources (HR) practices. This method considers the potential benefits and drawbacks of both the HR practices of the home nation and the host country. This method may prove useful in handling cross-cultural issues by recognizing and using the finest practices from different cultures (Kornau et al., 2022). It may be challenging to implement this strategy because it calls for a lot of communication and cooperation between regional offices and the parent company.

There are several scholarly and ethical arguments in favor of and against specific IHRM techniques. Ozbilgin (2020) agrees with the ethnocentric view if they suggest that HR procedures and policies should be standardized to streamline administration and strengthen company culture. Many say that the ethnocentric method isn’t as effective because it doesn’t consider cultural and legal differences between countries, which can lead to discrepancies and unhappiness among workers (Hjartardóttir & Lundeborg, 2017). Scholars may back the polycentric approach if they believe that tailoring HR practices to local conditions boosts employee satisfaction and the company’s reputation. However, detractors of the polycentric model point out that it might make it harder for a company to accomplish its strategic goals and lead to inconsistencies among its subsidiaries. Scholars may back the geocentric strategy if they can prove that adopting the most effective human resource strategies from around the world increases creativity and productivity in the workplace. However, some who disagree with the geocentric approach point out that implementing it could be challenging and lead to increased administrative expenditures.

Cultural, legal, and economic variations among nations all play a role in determining the most appropriate IHRM approach (Alsheikh et al., 2017). Management of cross-cultural challenges in international business operations can be aided or hindered by adopting either an ethnocentric, polycentric, or geocentric perspective based on the nature of the company’s industry, the nature of its corporate culture, and the cultural and legal environment of the country in question (Ererdi et al., 2022). Suppose Apple will use the best human resource practices when implementing its human resource development plans and practices surrounding performance management in its subsidiaries in SA. In that case, the geocentric strategy may be the best option.

Ethical Dilemmas in IHRM

Managing a global workforce effectively requires thoughtful planning that takes into account employees’ varied backgrounds and perspectives (Buller & McEvoy, 2017). This has produced a wide variety of moral challenges for businesses as they work to achieve their strategic HRM goals. The problem of cultural imperialism is just one of the ethical quandaries that can arise when HRM practices are applied in overseas branches. When one culture tries to impose its norms and values on another, it is said to be engaging in cultural imperialism. This problem occurs when companies try to implement uniform human resource management across all of their branches without first considering how those branches may have different cultural norms and values. The problem of cultural relativism also presents itself as an ethical conundrum (Clarke & Boersma, 2017). To adhere to the theory that all civilizations are equally valid and worthy of respect is known as cultural relativism. This problem emerges when companies modify HRM policies and procedures to fit the cultural norms of their various branches rather than basing those decisions on the universal ethical principles that should underpin all HRM actions.

Adopting an ethical framework that accounts for both universal ethical principles and the cultural environment of each subsidiary is one way to deal with the ethical difficulties that arise during the implementation of HRM initiatives in subsidiaries (Dowling et al., 2017). One such framework is the human rights approach, which accounts for the cultural setting of each subsidiary while recognizing the universality of human rights. The transnational strategy seeks to strike a balance between global integration and local responsiveness and can be used to solve these ethical concerns in a similar fashion (Kancharla & Dadhich, 2021). Therefore, when managing a worldwide staff, businesses must strike a balance between pursuing strategic HRM goals and being sensitive to employees’ cultural backgrounds and values. To strike a balance between global integration and local responsiveness, Apple’s SA subsidiaries have used HRM development strategies and practice revolving around performance management (Clarke & Boersma, 2017). Nevertheless, this method has moral problems, including cultural imperialism and relativism. To solve these moral problems, businesses can either adopt a standardized approach across all of their locations or take a more individualized one in accordance with local customs and values.

Cultural and Environmental Factors Impacting HRM Practices around performance management.

PESTLE analysis

Apple’s worldwide approach to HRM is heavily reliant on performance management. Different factors influence how Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its subsidiaries in South Africa apply performance management practices. PESTLE analysis can be used to analyze these elements and the implications they have for a global HRM strategy centered on performance management (Perera, 2017). Politics play a significant role in how Apple manages employee performance. The political atmosphere in the US, for instance, is stable, and the government encourages industry. In contrast, South Africa’s economy and industries have suffered political instability recently (Bushe, 2019). This uncertainty may affect HRM methods implemented in South Africa, particularly in employee relations and labor regulations. There is also the matter of the economy to consider. The United States, with its advanced economy and status as a global commercial hub, illustrates how favorable conditions can facilitate the development and implementation of HRM policies and procedures (Pradha, 2021). However, South Africa’s economy is still in its early stages of development, and businesses there face difficulties due to infrastructure gaps, skill shortages, and income inequality.

Consideration of social aspects is also crucial. Employees in different countries hold values, beliefs, and standards of conduct. Human resource management (HRM) strategies in the United States are affected by the country’s diversity and the vast immigrant population (Steers & Sánchez‐Runde, 2017). The country’s culture places a premium on hard effort, independence, and meritocracy. Human resource management (HRM) strategies, like recruiting and diversity, may be impacted by South Africa’s racial and cultural differences, despite the country’s diversified population (Nixon, 2022). There is also an effect of technological considerations. Through the use of automated systems and online instruments, technology can help with the implementation of performance management practices. The United States is a global leader in HRM innovation because of its position at the forefront of technological advancement. However, South Africa’s technological infrastructure is still developing, which may hinder the country’s ability to implement cutting-edge HRM practices.

Implementing performance management practices also requires consideration of legal factors. The application of performance management strategies may be impacted by national differences in HRM law and regulation (van Dyk & Van Belle, 2020). Human resource management (HRM) practices in the United States are governed by well-established laws and regulations. Companies in South Africa may find it challenging to apply HRM strategies, particularly in labor regulations and employment fairness, due to the country’s complicated legislative system (Van der Merwe, 2022). Consideration of environmental issues is also warranted. For instance, the United States has been at the forefront of addressing environmental problems, and many organizations have implemented green HRM practices, both of which can be influenced by the local environment. Water scarcity and global warming are only two environmental difficulties South Africa is still trying to overcome (Johnstone, 2022). Finally, considerations of ethics should not be overlooked. For instance, Apple must guarantee that its performance management procedures are moral and align with its beliefs and principles.

Hofstede cultural dimensions

Cultural differences can affect performance management HRM methods. Apple, with its US headquarters and South African operations, is a good example. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions—power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation—show cultural differences between the two countries (Huang & Crotts, 2019). The US has a minimal power distance. Therefore, leaders are expected to be approachable, and their judgments can be disputed. South Africa has a large power distance. Therefore, leaders are respected, and their judgments are accepted (James, 2019). This can result in more hierarchical structures and stricter performance management in South Africa than in the US.

Individualism is highly valued in the US. South Africa, meanwhile, is more collectivist (Beugelsdijk et al., 2017). Performance management, awards and recognition, and team-building may be affected by this discrepancy. The US may emphasize individual performance, while South Africa may emphasize team performance (Zhang, 2017). The US also emphasizes competitiveness, aggressiveness, and wealth. South Africa is feminine, valuing cooperation, empathy, and quality of life. This variance may affect job design, leadership, and employee engagement. Performance management in the US may emphasize individual achievement, while South Africa may emphasize teamwork.

The US accepts uncertainty and risk-taking (Milliman & Clair, 2017). South Africa prefers strict rules and is risk-averse. HRM practices, including hiring, training, and decision-making, may be affected by this variance. South African performance management may be more goal-oriented than US performance management. Finally, the US prioritizes short-term results and investment returns (Dimitrov, 2018). South Africa values sustainability and future-building. This may cause US performance management to prioritize short-term goals, whereas South Africa prioritizes long-term development. The US prioritizes personal freedom and life happiness. South Africa values self-control and moderation. Benefits, bonuses, employee well-being, and work-life balance may be affected by this discrepancy.

The Fit between HQ in the US and the Subsidiaries in SA HRM Practices around performance management

Apple Inc. has expanded its activities to South Africa in recent years, and the ramifications of the company’s HRM policies at its US headquarters need to be considered in light of the cultural differences between the US and South Africa. In particular, those related to performance management (Spring, 2021). Employee performance can be measured and managed through performance management. At Apple’s headquarters in the United States, employees are encouraged to establish personal performance targets, receive regular feedback, and develop their performance objectives (Steers & Sánchez‐Runde, 2017). It is possible that cultural differences make these methods inappropriate in a South African setting. In the United States, performance management tends to center on each employee’s stats, while in South Africa, it’s more common for teams to be evaluated.

Furthermore, relationships and the concept of Ubuntu, which stresses the interconnectedness of the community and the importance of kindness and cooperation, tend to be prioritized in the workplace in South Africa (Nixon, 2022). Therefore, Apple’s practices at its US headquarters may not be appropriate for the South African context because they may not value relationships among employees as highly. In addition, Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its South African affiliates have different performance management processes. Performance management in South Africa tends to be more collaborative and relationship-based, which may be at odds with Apple’s procedures in the United States (Adamovic, 2018). This could cause misunderstanding and friction between Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its businesses in South Africa. The cultural variations mean that Apple’s performance management approaches developed for the US headquarters may not work well in South Africa (Littlewood & Holt., 2018). Since the United States and South Africa have such different cultural norms, Apple needs to adapt its performance management strategies accordingly.

Application of the geocentric approach

In a geocentric view of HRM, the company actively seeks out and nurtures the best talent available, regardless of where it may be geographically located. That is to say, the geocentric strategy strikes a middle ground between the ethnocentric and polycentric models by aiming to transmit best practices worldwide while still catering to specific regions’ requirements (Ererdi et al., 2022). As part of its human resources management, Apple Company uses a geocentric strategy for evaluating employee performance in its South African operations (Brown et al., 2019). All of the organization’s divisions use the same global performance management system. The approach ensures that workers are evaluated according to their performance on predetermined measures that align with the company’s aims.

The corporation understands significant cultural differences between South Africa and the United States, where its headquarters are located (Lockamy, 2017). Since this is a problem in South Africa, Apple has adapted its performance management system there. The organization has adapted its leadership strategies to account for cultural differences, such as the wide gap between the rich and poor in South Africa. Compared to their American counterparts, South African leaders are held to higher standards of authority and directiveness. Apple also understands the significance of adapting its performance management system to each country’s culture (Chen et al., 2021). Considering the greater prevalence of collectivism in South Africa compared to the United States, the corporation has modified its performance management system to include group targets. Employees’ contributions to the team’s overall success will be taken into account as part of their evaluations.

The geocentric approach in HRM services, particularly performance management, has helped Apple balance global standards and local adaptation in its South African affiliates (Ererdi et al., 2022). Aware of the cultural differences between the US and SA, the company has reworked its performance management system accordingly. As a result, Apple can be sure that the subsidiary will adopt the same performance management procedures as the parent company.


As a global company, Apple Inc. must adapt to local customs and regulations in each country it operates in. These considerations may have an impact on the company’s ability to implement HRM fully practices relating to performance management in its SA affiliates. However, it is suggested that Apple use HRM practices that are culturally sensitive to improve the cultural fit (Diamantidis & Chatzoglou, 2019). This necessitates considering regional HRM norms and modifying performance management approaches accordingly. By doing so, the organization may be confident that its human resource management practices reflect local customs and values (Liu et al., 2021). Apple should also adopt HRM policies that value and encourage diversity among its staff. This can be accomplished by providing staff with diversity training and fostering a welcoming and accepting work atmosphere for people from all walks of life (Khan et al., 2019). The morale and output of the workforce will both rise as a result.

Apple should promote good communication and coordination between its headquarters and subsidiaries to ensure HRM practices are aligned and uniform across multiple geographies (Spring, 2021). Meeting and instructing regularly can help with this. As a result, employees in different branches will be better able to learn from one another and adapt to local customs. Furthermore, Apple may adopt a geocentric approach to HRM, which places equal emphasis on local and global HRM practices because of the variations in cultural and environmental elements between the US and SA (Kehm et al., 2022). This method might be better at fostering group cohesion and productivity. By taking this tack, the company can be confident that its HRM procedures are locally relevant and in line with international best practices. Apple should also prioritize ethical factors in HRM. A code of ethics that encourages moral action and the creation of an ethics board to uphold those standards are two ways to bring this about (Buller & McEvoy, 2017). This will boost the company’s credibility and win over more investors.


In conclusion, Apple Inc. is a global business that must consider regional differences when implementing human resource management (HRM) strategies and performance management practices. This paper has discussed the various IHRM strategies and ethical dilemmas Apple must consider when introducing performance management in its South African subsidiaries. It has also examined the cultural, legal, and economic factors that affect Apple’s HRM strategies and practices in the US and South Africa. Based on the evidence presented in this paper, the geocentric strategy appears to be the best approach for Apple when implementing its human resource development strategies and practices of performance management in SA. This method allows for considering local customs and regulations while still adhering to the company’s global goals and standards. To ensure that its performance management procedures are effective and ethical, Apple should prioritize communication and coordination between its headquarters and its subsidiaries, adopt HRM policies sensitive to local customs and values, and establish an ethical framework that encourages moral behavior. By taking these steps, Apple can be sure that its performance management practices are appropriate for the South African context and that it is taking the necessary steps to ensure the success of its HRM strategies.


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An Analysis Of Edgar Poe’s “The Cask Of Amontillado” Essay Example


The Cask of Amontillado is a short story written by the American author Edgar Allan Poe and was published in 1846. Amontillado is a specific type of Spanish sherry. Sherry is a fortified wine, and a cask is a barrel. It is a story of the narrator’s revenge on Fortunato, a wine expert. The reasons for the revenge are unclear, although the author leaves some clues. This essay examines or analyses this short story in terms of the plot, themes, characterization, symbolism, and setting.

The story is narrated from the murderer’s perspective, Montresor, to an unnamed listener, where he explains his revenge against a man called Fortunato. Montresor says that Fortunato has wronged and insulted him many times, and thus, he wants to take revenge on him. To exert his revenge, Montresor lures Fortunato to a private wine tasting so that he can kill him. Although Fortunato tries resisting as he is going to a carnival, Montresor uses reverse psychology and the advantage of Fortunato’s love for Amontillado that he cannot resist. Once they are at Montresor’s vaults, he drunks him and takes him to the most remote area of the catacombs, and in a smaller crypt, Montresor chains Fortunato burying him alive. Montresor tells the story after 50 years since he took his revenge on Fortunato.

Poe intentionally follows the classic elements of the plot and the plot diagram, thus increasing the importance of each scene. The plot’s exposition. This is usually the introduction to the story; we are introduced to the setting and the characters. The story is in Montresor’s memory, and thus, we are introduced to the two main characters: Montresor, the narrator and perpetrator, and Fortunato, Montresor’s victim. For unknown reasons, Montresor has sworn to take revenge on Fortunato.

The conflict is the other element of the plot diagram, which usually makes the story a problem that must be solved. The problem is that Montresor feels insulted by Fortunato at various times, and this problem can only be solved after Montresor has taken revenge on him, and that is through Fortunato’s death. “…when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” (Poe, Edgar Allan.pg3) The story’s rising action is when Montresor tells Fortunato about his doubts about the pipe he bought. Also, the mysterious wine area and Fortunato’s realization of being drunk. The climax. In The Cask of Amontillado, the climax occurs when Montresor strikes Fortunato with a rock and chains him to the wall. And this leads us to the story’s falling action, which occurs when Montresor seals Fortunato behind the wall, burying him alive. The resolution occurs when Montresor finishes telling his listener about his killing Fortunato and that his body has not been found even after fifty years.

The story revolves around two main characters, Fortunato, the story’s protagonist, and Montresor, the antagonist, and one minor character, Luchesi. Montresor is the narrator of the story, and we also learn that his family was once wealthy and of high status. he holds a grudge toward Fortunato and has sworn to take revenge on him. He is portrayed as manipulative and vengeful in how he manipulates Fortunato, leading him to his death. As a planner, since he has carefully planned his revenge on Fortunato, he kills him without anyone knowing, and even after 50 years, his body hasn’t been found. He is a murderer as he killed his friend. Fortunato is portrayed as an expert in tasting wine. His name means the fortunate one, but he ends up being killed. He is a friend of Montresor. And finally, Luchesi is acquainted with both Fortunato and Montresor and is a wine expert, but he doesn’t flourish well in his expertise.

The story is set during a carnival just before Lent in Italy. It is set in a mood of horror, suspense, and disbelief. It focuses on the Montresor home, especially the catacombs where Fortunato is killed.

The story’s symbolism is depicted through the catacombs. Catacombs are portrayed as psychologically symbolic. The way Poe puts it and the context it occurs, the author treats us, the readers, to a particular voyage of Montresor’s psychological state, where we see the depths of his evilness and his horrific thinking and acting. It is in the catacombs where Montresor commits the crime of burying Fortunato alive; the way he does it shows that he is psychologically unstable (Francisco, Jesusa).

The story’s main theme is a murder mystery. Montresor murders Fortunato, but the main question is Montresor’s motive for murder which remains a mystery throughout the story. However, with the lack of a detective, it is up to the reader to solve this mystery, like most crime stories. It’s not about who killed Fortunato but why Montresor killed Fortunato. Although Poe does not clearly state the motives, he leaves some significant clues. Montresor says that Fortunato has often wronged and insulted him, but no evidence anywhere in the story mentioned how he insulted him and when. However, at some point at the beginning of the story, Montresor does not seem to know about his motive for revenge when he states, “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.” (Poe, Edgar Allan.pg3). Even when he chains Fortunato, he does not tell him his reasons for killing him. The other theme is vengeance which is portrayed through Montresor’s desire for revenge against his friend Fortunato. He exerts his revenge by burying him alive and leaving him for dead.


The Cask of Amontillado is a revenge tale explored through Montresor, who has a great desire and grudge toward Fortunato. Thus, he has vowed to kill him, for he has insulted him. It is clear to the reader that Montresor harbors hatred and blames his society for his loss and unhappiness. It is a story of murder mystery, and the reader has to search for the killer’s motive.


Francisco, Jesusa C. “To Live but Die Inside: A Lamentable State of Montressor in “The Cask of Amontillado.” OKARA: Jurnal Bahasa dan Sastra 15.2 (2021): 126-140.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado (Edgar Allan Poe). Strelbytskyy Multimedia Publishing, 2020.

Exploring European Visual Masters Through Histor Essay Example For College


As long as humans have lived, art has existed in one form or another – it is a fundamental part of human life (Livni, 2018). Evidence found in prehistoric Africa shows that early humans were used to painting their artifacts, with discoveries of paint containers lending more credence to this assertion. Humanoid carvings called Venus Figurines have been discovered across Europe in Germany, and Austria, and cave paintings in France, Ukraine, Italy, and Spain (H. W. Janson, 2001). This interest in art continued throughout human history from antiquity through the Middle Ages to the Age of Enlightenment, and the present, with each period featuring more refined art than the preceding period, from the simple styles of the middle stone age to the present form. Art has been used as a medium to preserve history, as a form of communication, and as a symbol of a higher power, thus reinforcing its relevance to human development and experience (Livni, 2018). This essay reviews the life and works of five of the most impactful European visual artists through the different historical periods, their influences, and their legacy.

Duccio di Buoninsegna

One of the most prolific artists and painters of the Middle Ages, Duccio was born in 1319 in Siena, Italy. He worked mostly in Tuscany and its vicinity (Boskovits, 2016). Although no evidence exists, there are speculations that he also traveled and worked in Rome (1280-1285), Assisi, and Paris. However, his most renowned workplace was in Siena, where he gained significant commissions, including the Maesta for the high altar of Siena Cathedral in 1308 and the Rucellai Madonna for a chapel in Florence commissioned by the Compagnia del Laudesi di Maria Vergine. Although he gained infamy for his financial troubles, he was considered one of his generation’s most radical painters, influencing and attracting many pupils, including Master of Badia an Isola, Master of Città di Castello, Ugolina de Nerio, and many more (Robert et al., 1983). Duccio contributed substantially to the Gothic painting style through his formality of the Italo-Byzantine tradition. His most renowned works include Singers Praising the Virgin MaryMadonna Recellai, and The Madonna of the Franciscans (Boskovits, 2016). His other surviving works include Configuration, Disputation with the Doctors, Christ before Caiaphas, Triptych: Crucifixion and Other Scenes (1302-08), and Dosale no. 28 (1305), among others. Sample of his works include:

Duccio di Buoninsegna Maesta de Duccio

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Maesta de Duccio ca. 1308-1311

Tampera and Gold on Wood

84 × 156 in

The Maesta (1311) forms the centerpiece of Siena Cathedral and shows Duccio’s specialization in religious depictions. It is argued that Pisani’s sculpture greatly inspired Duccio’s artwork.

Duccio di Buoninsegna Madonna with Child ca

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Madonna with Child ca. 1300

Tampera on Wood

11.0 × 8.3 in

Madonna with Child(1300) is inspired by the biblical story of Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary (Madonna), featuring Christ’s child gently pushing away the sorrowful mother’s veil whose expression betrays her foreknowledge of the impending crucifixion of the child.

Giotto di Bondone

Giotto was a late Middle Ages painter and architect credited for breaking the predominant Byzantine style and reintroducing near-to-life painting that had been abandoned and neglected for two hundred years (Vasari et al., 1998). Born in 1267 near Florence, a son of a humble blacksmith, he was discovered by the great Cimabue while painting a picture of his father’s sheep, so the legend goes. The legend further emphasizes his talent, stating that his painting was so lifelike that they confused even the most seasoned painter, including Cimabue. He eventually surpassed his mater with his works being praised within his lifetime, with Dante Alighieri writing, “Oh, the vein pride of human talents! Cimabue expected to retain the field, but now Giotto has the voice, and the other’s glory is lessened” (Barolini, 2014, p. 2). Throughout most of his young life, Giotto worked alongside his Master Cimabue. Several paintings bear the hallmarks of both Giotto and Cimabue, with speculation rife that Cimabue may have traveled with Giotto to paint the giant murals for the new Basilica in Assisi. Vasari notes that some of the earliest works by Giotto were commissioned by the Dominican monks of Santa Maria Novella, including the mural of the Annunciation and a five-meter-tall hanging crucifix.

He undertook his first major work in Assisi between 1290 and 1295 before traveling extensively in Italy and establishing studios in various localities where his work was replicated by his students, some of whom went ahead to launch their careers (Gardner & Giotto, 2011). On traveling to Padua, he set about painting his most well-known work, The Last Judgment (1306), at the Arena Chapel (Ruskin & Hewison, 2018). Between 1305 and 1315, he was commissioned by cardinals of Rome to create the mosaic of the façade of the Ancient Saint Peter’s Basilica; he was also contracted to the Church of Santa Croce in Florence and was also contracted by the Peruzzi to create two murals of John the Baptists and John the Evangelist(1315-1325) at the Peruzzi chapel, held in high regards by most renaissance artists. Other renowned works by Giotto include Ognissanti Madonna (1314-1327), Stefaneschi Triptych (1320-1330), Christ’s Lamentation (1304-1306) at the church of Santa Chiara, Illustrious Men on the Windows of Santa Barbara Chapel in the Castel Nuovo, Pentecost (1310-1318), Madonna and the Child (1320-1330) among others (Bondone, 2016). He passed on in January of 1337 and was laid to rest on the left side of the entrance to Florence Cathedral.

Selected works

Giotto di Bondone Ognissanti Madonna ca.

Giotto di Bondone

Ognissanti Madonnaca. 1310

Tempera on panel

128 × 80 in

Ognissanti Madonna (1310) is based on traditional Christian imagery depicting the Virgin Mary seated on a throne with Christ’s child on her lap, surrounded from all sides by the saints. The painting is considered the first to move from the Byzantine style into the new Renaissance style while retaining some influences of Byzantine art infused with Gothic art forms.

Campanile di Giotto

Campanile di Giotto


Florence Cathedral, Florence, Italy

Campanile di Giotto (1337–1359) – The 84m free-standing structure stands adjacent to the Santa Maria de Fiore Basilica in Florence, Italy. It was initiated by Giotto in 1334 when he was appointed as the Master of works of the cathedral. Works on the structure were incomplete at his death, and his successor, Alfred Pisano, continued with the construction, introducing some changes to the overall structure. The structure bears the religious connotations typical of Giotto’s works, with several symbols observed, including the number seven and the Hexagonal panel reminiscent of the beginning of mechanical art, among others.


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, famously known by the mononym Michelangelo, was a painter, sculptor, and architect born in 1475 in Caprese in the Republic of Florence in present-day Italy. Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are considered the world’s foremost Renaissance artists; their paintings and sculptures bring some of the most revered works of art (Lazzeri et al., 2012). Unlike the other great artists of his time, his life is much better documented since three versions of his biography were published while he was still alive. His parents realized his interest in art early and sent him to apprentice with Ghirlandaio, where he learned the fresco technique. After that, he studied classical sculpture in the palace gardens of Lorenzo de Medici, granting him access to the elite crowd of Florence, interacting with the most prominent poets, learned humanists, and scholars, a combination of experience that laid the foundation of what would become his distinctive style – A combination of lyrical beauty and macular precision and reality (Vasari et al., 1998). After that, Michelangelo moved to Bologna and finally to Rome, where he worked for the rest of his life.

Michelangelo’s personality was characterized by brilliance and considerable talent punctuated by quick tempers and spells of melancholy. Some of his most outstanding works include Paintings – Creation of Adam (1512), Last Judgment (1541) and, Sistine Chapel (1508-1512); Sculptures – Pieta (1498-1499) and David (1501-1504); Architecture – the Tomb of Julius II (1505-1545), the design of the Medici Chapel and Laurentian Library in Florence and his crowning jewel, being selected to be the chief architect of the St. Peter Basilica (1546) in Rome (present-day Vatical city). He died following a brief illness aged 89 at his home in Macel de’Corvi in Rome and was laid to rest at the Basilica di Santa Croce. With multiple works of art credited to him, Michelangelo was and is celebrated as the epitome of humanist artistic expression in the Renaissance age as well as one of the most enduring artists in the world. His artwork continuously attracts vast numbers of visitors each year.

Selected works

Michelangelo David ca.


David ca. 1501-1504

Marble sculpture

17 x 6.5 ft

David (1505) – The first of its kind in post-antiquity Florence, the David statute was commissioned as one of a series of biblical statutes to be placed at the Florence cathedral but was moved to a public square. Incidentally, despite Michelangelo’s relationship with the Medici family, the statute represented the defense of civil freedom threatened by the Medici family’s grip on power in Florence and the ever-present danger of invasion from powerful rivals.

Michelangelo Madonna della Pietà ca.


Madonna della Pietà ca. 1498-1499

Marble Sculpture

68.5 x 78.8 in

Madonna della Pieta (1499), known as Pieta, represents Jesus Christ and Mary at Mount Golgotha following his death on the cross. Inspired by Dante’s Devine Comedy, Michelangelo carved Jesus as visibly older than his mother. The image has an uncanny balance of classical beauty in the Renaissance infused with naturalism. The sculpture was initially commissioned for the funeral monument of the Cardinal of France but was moved back to its present location in the Vatican in the 18th century.

Leonardo da Vinci

Arguably one of the most, if not the most, famous artists, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, was born in 1452 in Vinci, Italy, to a low-class woman (Worrall, 2017). He studied under Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence before becoming an independent painter, being commissioned to paint the altarpiece of the Chapel of St. Bernard and The Adoration of the Magi (1482), neither of which he completed. After moving to Milan, he was commissioned to paint The Virgin of The Rock (1483-93) and The Last Supper (1495-98), and many other works; he also stayed in Rome in service of Leo X and on the occupation of Rome, went to France in service to King Francis I, both of whom held him in high esteem. He died in 1519 following a stroke, with legend stating that the King held his head as he died.

Leonardo is considered one of the greatest painters of the resistance age. He is credited with the foundation of a high renaissance, with some of his works being some of the most famous works of art in history and influencing numerous future Renaissance artists, including Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael (1483-1520) who went ahead to form the trinity of great masters alongside da Vinci himself and Michelangelo (Clark et al., 1993). Some of the most renowned works of art fully credited or in Part to Leonardo da Vinci include the Mona Lisa (1503-1516)- one of the most famous paintings by da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (1599-1510), the Vitruvian Man (1483)

Leonardo da Vinci The Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa (1503-1506)

Oil on Lombardi Poplar Panel

30.2 x 20.9 in

The Mona Lisa (1506) is a half-length portrait painting of the Noblewoman Lisa Del Giocondo by da Vinci. It remains one of the most well-known and valuable paintings in the world. The dominating feature of the image is how alive the woman looks, with her gaze fixed directly on the observer with a background featuring aerial perspective receding to an icy landscape and the horizon in line with the subject’s eyes (Zollner, 2006).

Leonardo da Vinci The Last Supper ca

Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper ca. 1495-98

Tampera on gesso, pitch and mastic

180 x 350 in

The Last Supper (1495-98) painting depicts Jesus and his disciples during the last supper, specifically when he announces that one will betray him. It continues Leonardo da Vinci’s religious depiction with this one commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. It was painted on materials that allowed for alterations and revisions and became one of the most extensive works by Leonardo (Vasari et al., 1998).


Born Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola in 1503 in Parma, Italy, Parmigianino was well known for the refined sensuality in his paintings, becoming one of the most prominent mannerist period artists (Hartt & Wilkins, 2003). He aspired to follow in the steps of other great artists, such as Raphael, and thus moved to Rome, the center of art and culture, to pursue this dream. However, his dream was cut short in 1527 by the invasion of Rome by the German army, and he had to flee back to Parma, where his fame continued to grow, gaining recognition and celebration. However, his career suffered when his obsession with alchemy and eccentricity interrupted his works and earned him a jail sentence for failing to uphold a contract, signaling the beginning of the steady decline of his artwork till his death from fever in 1540.

Parmigianino’s works were styled as elegance of his decorations, freedom of the brushstrokes, and subtle elongation of human features in his painting as illustrated in The Vision of St. Jerome (1527); his religious scenes displayed grace and sensuality with more emphasis on the artificial expression of nature, a departure from Raphael’s idealized classical beauty. Most art scholars agree that the expression of these styles implicated a feeling of deep spiritual uncertainty and an attempt to fulfill deep-rooted etching, which he eventually expressed through an interest in alchemy. His drawings are notable for the juxtaposition of high Renaissance art expression – as done by Raphael – and the mannerist artificial expression (Artble, 2023). His most notable works are; the Portrait of a Collector (1523), the Madonna and Child with Saints (1527), and the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (1531), among others (Ekserdjian, 2006).

Selected works

Parmigianino Madonna dal collo lungo ca.


Madonna dal collo lungo ca. 1535-1540

Oil on Panel

135 × 59 in

Madonna dal collo lungo (1535-1540) The painting depicts Madonna and the child with angels. It was commissioned for the funeral chapel of Francesco Tagliaferi but remained incomplete on the death of Parmigianino. It features distorted images of Mary with an unusually long neck, and Christ is much bigger than a normal baby.

Parmigianino Madonna and Long Child with Angels and St. Jerome ca.


Madonna and Long Child with Angels and St. Jerome ca. 1535-1540

Oil on Wood

85 × 52 in

Maria Bufalini commissioned the vision of St. Jerome (1540) to decorate the family chapel at Santa Salvatore Church in Lauro. It features St. Jerome sleeping next to a crucifix receiving a vision of St. John the Baptist pointed at a mother and child representing Mary and her son Jesus Christ. The image of John pointing upward is reminiscent of da Vinci’s John the Baptist.

Gustave Courbet

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet, born in 1819 in Ornan, France, was one of the leading figures of the realist movement of the 19th century, rejecting the romanticism and academic convention so revered by the previous generation of visual artists. His independence from the establishment and socialist politics set him on a clashing course with the French authorities leading to his subsequent imprisonment and exile in Switzerland, where he died in 1877, aged 58 (Riat, 2012). Gustave’s art was in the realism era and faced. His primary source of inspiration was his own experiences and those of others, abandoning the long-established artistic traditions of presenting historical figures rather than courting controversy by expressing social concerns in his works. Unlike artists before him, Courbet drew most of his paintings based on the real-life experiences of the poor and the lowly. He addressed the rejection of his works by established exhibitions and art critics through his works, The Artist’s Studio (1855) (Masanes, 2006).

Courbet’s notoriety continued with The Young Ladies on the Bank of the Seine(1856), which received mass condemnation from art critics for displaying prostitutes with their undergarments exposed, a taboo in neoclassic art (Courbet, 1856). This uproar did not deter him; in fact, he went ahead and painted other controversial works, including; The Village Damsels (1852) and The Wrestlers (1853), Femme Nue Couchee (1862), L’Origine du Monde (1866), and Sleep (1866).

Selected works

Gustave Courbet The Stone Breakers

Gustave Courbet

The Stone Breakers ca. 1849

Oil on Canvas

65 × 94 in

On the Stone Breakers (1849), Courbet features two men he had encountered undertaking hard labor on the roadside on his way back to Ornan in 1848. In the painting, he avoided idealizing the models as the norm, preferring to show them in their realities. The historical timelines of his life and socialist-leaning also drove him to paint the simple man in his natural environment to counter the establishment (Savatier, 2006).

Gustave Courbet A Burial at Ornan

Gustave Courbet

A Burial at Ornan ca.1850-51

Oil on Canvas

142 × 235 in

On A Burial at Ornan (1850-51), Courbet exhibits the burial of his uncle, with the attendees being the models of this work, unlike in classical and neoclassic works where the characters presented were hired actors, thus drawing both criticism and praise in equal measure.

Drawing from his characterization as a genius and a savage, Courbet courted even more dissension through works such as The Bathers (1853). His main source of inspiration from the realities and suffering around him, especially the commoner’s plight. In a departure from the previous artists, his works were more original, uncompromising, full of social context, and highly divisive. His works were enigmatic, a transformation from the old traditional art often commissioned by the church, the nobles, or the aristocrats of his time, a humanistic form of art. He set out to challenge the establishment through his works and politics. He thus prepared the way, alongside Cezanne, for cubism, an art form that combined multiple perspectives to present context (Metzinger, 1910).

Comparison of the Artists

The differences between these six artists are glaring, primarily due to their living in different periods and their differing circumstances of their lives. However, the similarities are uncanny as most artists influenced each other, with the previous generation influencing and impacting the upcoming generation. This similarity is seen through their biographies, works, relationships, and inspirations.


The most remarkable similarity between all six artists was their pioneering in different timelines. While Duccio introduced an element of softness in the prevailing Byzantine painting style, Giotto introduced natural humanistic elements which had laid dormant for several years. Michelangelo reinforced humanistic ideas in his paintings and sculpture with an emphasis on muscular precision and lyrical beauty admired by most, while his nemesis Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the foundation of high Renaissance art and using his talent to invent several items (Clark et al., 1993). Parmigianino introduced elegance and natural beauty, which departed from the classical beauty so common with the artists during his time (Artble, 2023), like Raphael, while Courbet introduced social awareness and a departure from the religious basis of painting to the point of being banished by some major exhibitions. All in all, each of these writers was a master of a new art form, for which they created or improved. No one can question the ingenuity and talent of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, or even Courbet, and their works continue to inspire new art enthusiasts (Garg, n.d.). Analyzing their works and biographies indicated their dedication to their art. Vasari, in his anthology, considers them masters of the art, and over the entire period reviewed, each one of these artists has grown in fame, influence, and stature (Vasari et al., 1998). This fact can only lend credence to their prowess.


The main difference between these masters and art is their source of inspiration. While most of the paintings depicted above were religious, others, like Courbet’s, were inspired by reality, and he outrightly shunned classical painting. Equally for Parmigianino, his paintings display spiritual expression and not in the traditional sense, and analysis of his works has indicated an attempt to express his eccentric thoughts through his works. In a nutshell, each of these artists had their specific inspiration based on their experiences, mental state, politics, and prevailing social and artistic structure, which played a big part in the expressions in their works.


Art has always been a means for human expression, with each era of human civilization presenting its idea in various art forms. While this is a global phenomenon, nowhere is this clear than in Europe. Since antiquity, Europe and especially southern Europe, has been the center of culture and commerce, with art becoming the best form for expressing one’s success and, therefore, a high demand for talented artists who can satisfy the demand for this trade (H. W. Janson, 2001). Therefore, it is notable that most prominent artists trace their roots to Europe and Mediterranean Europe, with Italy and Florence home to some of the most reputable artists (Artsy Editorial, 2014; HistoryWorld, 2012). This essay goes into the lives of some artists, their works, inspirations, schools of thought, and their influence in the present world. In doing so, a glaring observation is noted, while these artists lived in different timelines and countries, they have more similarities than differences.


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