The Top 10 Famous Medieval Artists of All Time
Medieval artists may not be prolific like their modern counterparts, but their work has been long admired. Their techniques, ranging from flat and two-dimensional to highly realistic three-dimensional artworks, have become how we interpret medieval life today.
From famous paintings to cathedrals strewn with stained glass windows and marble statues, they have left us a legacy worth preserving. Many Medieval Artists have left behind beautiful works of art that have become part of our cultural heritage. Here are the best medieval artists:
1. Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone was an Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Early Renaissance. He is the first in the line of great artists of the Italian Renaissance, or Quattrocento.
Giotto was a painter who, like the rest of his contemporaries, was not known as an artist by trade. He entered a profession that would have provided him with a reasonable livelihood in the 14th century.
However, his painting skills led to his fame and prosperity. His earliest known work dates to the mid-1300s. It is a panel painting depicting Pope Boniface VIII praying before the Crucifix in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome (ca 1295).
2. Upper Rhenish Master
An anonymous artist from the upper Rhenish area in Germany, the Upper Rhenish Master, was a medieval artist who specialized in manuscript illumination. His best-known works include a harmony of the four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - from the Gospel of St. John (ca 1330-40).
The artist has used biblical scenes from these stories to present a narrative that shows Christ's preparation for death, his suffering on the Cross, his descent into hell, and his Resurrection.
3. Limbourg brothers
The Limbourgs were a family of German artists. They were all born in the former Duchy of Frise, established after the 843 partitioning of the Carolingian Empire into eastern and western halves. The name Limbourg is derived from the French town of Lémur, which they probably moved to around 1391.
Many members of this family worked in a style known as the International gothic style. They were known for their excellent technique, highly detailed work, and sophisticated subject matter, particularly religious works.
The Limbourgs were skilled in iconography, miniaturization, and illumination. They also contributed to the development of stained glass and stained-glass paintings.
4. Jean Pucelle
Jean Pucelle was an early 15th-century artist and painter from the Duchy of Brabant. He was known for his brilliant technique and expert use of detail. He worked in miniature illumination, panel painting, and stained glass art, as evidenced by his numerous surviving works.
Although he produced many works that were destroyed during the French Revolution, some of his notable works are The Annunciation (ca 1330), Coronation of St. Catherine (1327), The Crucifixion (the 1330s), and The Virgin of Mercy (ca 1325-7).
During his lifetime, Pucelle was both famous and well-loved by his contemporaries. He was also a highly skilled illuminator who worked for King Charles V of France and his son, the Dauphin.
5. Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Ambrogio Lorenzetti was an Italian painter and a prominent architect. He was born in Siena, Italy, and died at an unknown date before 1348. He worked in the Sienese School together with his elder brother, the artist Pietro Lorenzetti.
Ambrogio's best-known work is probably the interior of Siena Cathedral (1308-1319). It is the largest fresco of its kind in the world (ca. 3,622 square feet) and is more than ten feet high.
The frescoes are painted on the vault and walls of the choir section. Ambrogio's other works include frescoes in Orvieto Cathedral, The Finding of Moses (ca. 1312-1315), and a Madonna with Child and Sts Francis and Clare in S. Francesco (ca 1319).
6. Giovanni di Paolo
Giovanni di Paolo was an Italian painter of the Sienese School in Italy who lived between 1383 and 1451.
He is considered the last of the great Sienese painters. Giovanni di Paolo excelled in religious-themed works, many of which were created for or restored in the Siena Cathedral.
His works include The Virgin and Child with Four Angels (ca 1435), St Catherine (ca 1443), and A Crucifixion (1446). The paintings created by Giovanni di Paolo were often done in egg tempera (a painting technique used between the 12th and the 15th century).
7. Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was an Early Netherlandish painter considered one of the most significant painters in European art history. Born sometime between 1385 and 1409, he was likely one of the first to introduce naturalism into Northern European art.
The exact date of his birth is unknown, but most scholars put it around 1385. His birthplace has yet to be discovered, but his family originated from Circa Haarlem in the Dutch province of North Holland. Jan van Eyck was one of a family of artists who migrated to Northern Italy in the 1400s and worked together at various courts there.
8. Rogier van der Weyden
Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden lived from 1399 to 1464. He is widely regarded as one of the forefathers of Early Netherlandish painting. He came from a family of excellent weavers and was born in Tournai.
While in Tournai, he worked as an apprentice for renowned artist Robert Campin. Later in life, he went to Italy and was greatly affected by the Sienese school of painting. As court painter to the Duke of Burgundy, he rose to prominence and became one of the most in-demand artists of his era.
The Justice of Trajan and Herkinbald, and The Deposition are three of his most well-known works. He has a reputation for a high level of realism, detail, and intensity of feelings in his work.
9. Fra Angelico
Italian painter and priest Fra Angelico was most known for depicting scenes from the life of Christ. One of the most accomplished illuminators of the 15th century, he is also widely regarded as one of the era's finest fresco painters.
He got his artistic start in Florence after being born in Tuscany's Mugello. Gentile da Fabriano and Lorenzo Monaco were two of his teachers.
He became the prior of the Dominican monastery San Domenico di Fiesole in the Florence suburbs, where he painted a number of murals for the monastic cells, chapels, and the Dominican Church of San Marco.
His work is known for its unpretentious elegance and calm, bright palette. The Annunciation, The Last Judgment, and The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Four Angels and Six Saints are some of his most well-known works.
10. Simone Martini
Italian painter Simone Martini worked in Siena during the late Gothic and early Renaissance eras of the 14th century. He was a major figure in the Sienese school of painting and produced some of Italy's most influential artworks. He studied in Siena and was inspired by Byzantine art and the Gothic paintings of France and Spain.
Martini was also a leading figure in the International Gothic movement, which he helped pioneer with his use of luxurious hues, graceful outlines, and painstaking attention to detail.
In addition to his other talents, he was an accomplished illuminator who helped bring countless manuscripts to life. The Pope was just one of the many aristocrats and monarchs that commissioned his art as a court painter.
A painting of the Virgin and Child enthroned with saints, "Maestà" (1315) is one of his most famous surviving works, and "The Annunciation" (1333) is one of the most famous paintings of all time and a masterpiece of the International Gothic style.
The artists mentioned above have gained recognition for their contribution to the field of art. Their works have enriched our knowledge on the subject, especially in the medieval era. The painters mentioned above exemplified what modern artists are trying to achieve: innovation and creativity.