Top 10 Famous Paintings Of The Renaissance
What is Renaissance art?
Renaissance art refers to the paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts produced during the Renaissance period of European history, which began in Italy around AD 1400 and coincided with breakthroughs in philosophy, literature, music, science, and technology.
Renaissance art was founded on the art of Classical antiquity, which was regarded as the noblest of ancient traditions, but it was changed by absorbing recent advancements in Northern European art and applying present scientific knowledge to that legacy.
Here are the greatest Renaissance artists and their masterpieces.
The 10 best artworks of the Renaissance:
- Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
- The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
- The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
- The Creation of Adam Fresco by Michelangelo
- Primavera by Sandro Botticelli
- The School of Athens by Raphael
- Assumption of the Virgin by Titian
- The Sistine Madonna by Raphael
- Venus of Urbino by Titian
- Portrait of Ginevra Benci by Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa is an Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci's half length portrait painting. It has been called "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world" It has been described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most imitated work of art in the world."
The mysterious expression of the subject, the monumentality of the layout, the careful modeling of shapes, and the ambient illusionism are all unique features of the painting.
The painting, which is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, is most likely of the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, Francesco del Giocondo's wife.
Leonardo never delivered the artwork to the Giocondo family, and it is thought that he left it to his favorite apprentice Sala in his will.
It was previously thought to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have worked on it until 1517. Since 1797, it has been on permanent exhibit at the Louvre in Paris, where it was purchased by King Francis I of France and is currently the property of the French Republic.
One of the most expensive paintings in the world is the Mona Lisa. At US$100 million in 1962 (equivalent to $870 million in 2021), it holds the Guinness World Record for the world's highest insurance valuation in history.
The Last Supper is a late-15th century fresco painting by Leonardo da Vinci that is held in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is one of the most well-known paintings in the Western world.
The work is thought to have begun in 1495–96 and was commissioned by Leonardo's patron, Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, as part of a plan to renovate the church and its convent buildings.
The scene of Jesus' Last Supper with his apostles, as described in John's Gospel, 13:21, is depicted in the picture. When Jesus announced that one of the Twelve Apostles would betray him, Leonardo showed the Twelve Apostles' disbelief.
From around 1495 until 1498, Leonardo worked on The Last Supper, but not continually. The exact start date is unknown because the convent's documents for that time period were destroyed. According to a record dated 1497, the painting was virtually finished at the time.
According to legend, a prior from the monastery enraged Leonardo by complaining about the delay. He wrote to the monastery's head, indicating that he had been striving to locate the appropriate evil face for Judas and that if he couldn't, he would use the traits of the prior who had objected.
The Birth of Venus is a painting by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli that was most likely created in the mid-1480s. It shows the goddess Venus coming at the shore after her birth, when she was fully grown and emerged from the water (called Venus Anadyomene and often depicted in art).
The painting may be found in Florence, Italy's Uffizi Gallery. Despite the fact that they are not a pair, the artwork is inextricably linked to Botticelli's other big mythical painting, the Primavera, which is also housed at the Uffizi.
They are two of the most well-known paintings in the world, as well as icons of the Italian Renaissance; the Birth is more well-known than the Primavera.
They were essentially unparalleled in Western art since classical antiquity as large-scale portrayals of subjects from Greek mythology, as did the size and importance of a naked female figure in the Birth. It was once considered that they were both commissioned by the same Medici family member, but this is no longer the case.
The emulation of ancient painters and the environment of wedding celebrations (mostly agreed), the influence of Renaissance Neo-Platonism (slightly contentious), and the identity of the commissioners have all been extensively studied by art historians (not agreed). However, most art historians agree that, unlike the Primavera, the Birth does not necessitate a detailed interpretation to decode its significance.
While the picture has intricacies, its basic meaning is a straightforward, albeit unique, portrayal of a traditional scene from Greek mythology, and its attraction is sensory and very approachable, which explains its huge popularity.
The newly-born goddess Venus stands naked in a large scallop shell in the center. The shell's size is entirely fictitious, as it appears in classical portrayals of the subject. Zephyr, the wind deity, blasts at her from the left, the wind represented by lines extending from his mouth.
He's in the air, and he's carrying a young female who's also blowing, but not as hard. Both of them have wings. Vasari was undoubtedly right when he called her "Aura," the personification of a gentle wind.
Venus is being blown towards the coast by their combined efforts, while the hair and attire of the other figures are being blown to the right.
A female figure on the right, who appears to be hovering slightly above the earth, holds out a rich cloak or dress to cover Venus when she reaches the shore, which she is about to accomplish. She is one of the three Horae or Hours, minor Greek deities of the seasons and other divisions of time who serve as Venus's attendants. Her dress is adorned with flowers, implying that she is the Hora of Spring.
The Creation of Adam Fresco by Michelangelo
The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Michelangelo that is part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and was produced between 1508 and 1512. It depicts the biblical creation story from the Book of Genesis, in which God creates the first man, Adam.
The fresco is the fourth of a series of panels illustrating Genesis incidents, and it is part of a sophisticated iconographic design. Countless imitations and parodies have been made of the painting.
The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is one of the most famous religious artworks of all time.
God is portrayed as an elderly white-bearded Caucasian guy covered in a swirling garment, while Adam is pictured entirely naked on the lower left. God extends his right arm to impart the spark of life from his own finger to Adam, who extends his left arm in a position that mirrors God's, a reminder that man is formed in the image and likeness of God.
Primavera is a huge tempera painting by Sandro Botticelli, an Italian Renaissance painter who lived in the late 1470s or early 1480s (datings vary). It's been called "one of the most written about, most contentious, and most popular paintings in Western art," as well as "one of the most popular paintings in Western art."
The artwork displays a number of figures from Greek mythology in a garden, but no tale has been discovered that ties them together.
Most critics agree that the painting is an allegory of Spring's luxuriant blooming, but interpretations of its precise meaning differ, with many involving Renaissance Neoplatonism, which enthralled intellectual circles in Florence at the time.
By 1550, the art historian Giorgio Vasari had seen it at Villa Castello, just outside of Florence, and had named it Primavera. Despite the fact that the two paintings are no longer thought to be a pair, the artwork is inextricably linked to Botticelli's other big mythological painting, The Birth of Venus, which is also housed in the Uffizi.
They are two of the most well-known paintings in the world, as well as icons of the Italian Renaissance; the Birth is more well-known than the Primavera. They were practically unmatched in Western art since classical antiquity as large-scale portrayals of topics from Greek mythology.
The painting's history is unknown; it may have been commissioned by a member of the Medici family, but the exact nature of the commission is unknown. It draws on a variety of classical and Renaissance literary influences, including the works of Ovid and, less likely, Lucretius, and may also refer to a poem by Poliziano, the Medici house poet who may have assisted Botticelli in the writing.
The picture has been in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, since 1919. Various interpretations of the figures have been proposed, but it is widely recognized that the picture is "an complex mythical allegory of the world's expanding fecundity" at least on one level.
Botticelli is assumed to have assisted in the composition of the picture and any intended connotations, as the painting looks to show a comprehensive understanding of classical literature and philosophy that Botticelli is unlikely to have known.
Poliziano is frequently referenced, although Marsilio Ficino, another member of Lorenzo de' Medici's circle and a prominent figure in Renaissance Neoplatonism, is also frequently mentioned.
Raphael, an Italian Renaissance painter, created the fresco The School of Athens. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as part of Raphael's assignment to decorate the chambers of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace known as the Stanze di Raffaello.
After La Disputa (Theology) on the opposite wall and the Parnassus on the opposite wall, the Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens, representing philosophy, was probably the third painting to be completed there (Literature).
Raphael learnt accurate perspective projection from Leonardo da Vinci, which is evident in the painting (who is the central figure of this painting, representing Plato).
Leonardo's separate studies in theatre, engineering, optics, geometry, physiology, anatomy, history, architecture, and art inspired the rebirth of Ancient Greek philosophy and culture in Europe (together with Raphael's work). This painting has long been regarded as "Raphael's masterwork and the finest representation of the Renaissance's classical spirit."
The School of Athens is one of four primary frescoes depicting different disciplines of knowledge on the Stanza's walls (those on each side centrally broken by windows). Above each theme is a separate tondo with a majestic female figure seated in the sky, with putti holding the phrases "Seek Knowledge of Causes," "Divine Inspiration," "Knowledge of Things Divine" (Disputa), and "To Each What Is Due."
The figures on the walls below represent philosophy, poetry (including music), theology, and law, respectively. Raphael is not the author of the traditional title. The painting's theme is philosophy, or at least ancient Greek philosophy, and the painting's overhead tondo-label, "Causarum Cognitio," indicates which sort, since it looks to reflect Aristotle's focus on wisdom as knowing why, and therefore knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II.
The central figures in the scene appear to be Plato and Aristotle. Many of the thinkers featured, on the other hand, strove to understand first causes. Before Plato and Aristotle, many people lived, but only about a third of them were Athenians. Although there are Roman influences in the design, the basic semi-circular layout with Plato and Aristotle at its center could be a reference to Pythagoras' monad.
Assumption of the Virgin by Titian
The Assumption of the Virgin, also known as the Frari Assumption, is a huge altarpiece panel painting by Titian, created in oils between 1515 and 1518. It remains on the high altar of the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or Frari church, in Venice, where it was created for.
The huge church, with a substantial distance between the altar and the congregation, prompted the creation of the city's largest altarpiece, with figures considerably above life-size.
It signaled a shift in Titian's style, reflecting his awareness of advancements in High Renaissance painting in Florence and Rome, where artists like as Raphael and Michelangelo were working.
The Apostles' frenetic figures signified a departure from the normal pensive serenity of saints in Venetian painting, as seen in the works of Giovanni Bellini and others. It was first frightening to the Venetian people, but it was quickly recognized as a masterpiece that cemented Titian's place as Venice's leading artist and one of Italy's most important, rivaling Michelangelo and Raphael.
The figures are split into three zones by light-filled gaps. The Apostles are gathered on the ground, densely packed in a group and in a variety of dramatic stances, the majority of them are looking up at the incredible sight of the Virgin Mary ascending to heaven.
"Monumental figures... massed in collective movement, united with shadow, heroic gestures are given a silhouette of unprecedented boldness," they are shown in a variety of poses, ranging from gazing in awe to kneeling and reaching for the skies, "monumental figures... massed in collective movement, united with shadow, heroic gestures are given a silhouette of unprecedented boldness."
The Virgin Mary, dressed in a crimson robe and blue mantle and making an astonished gesture, stands atop clouds in the center zone. "Thousands of angels are melted into clouds irradiated by celestial light" around her. God the Father, who is about to be given a crown for Mary by the angel to the right, is shown above (see above). Although the blue-grey sky above the apostles indicates that the action is situated outdoors, Titian defied precedent by eliminating all landscape details.
The sky contrasts with the golden heavenly light in the top zones, which harkens back to the gold ground used in traditional mosaics, such as those still being made in San Marco, and Gothic gold ground paintings.
The Sistine Madonna by Raphael
The Madonna of San Sisto, popularly known as the Sistine Madonna, is an oil painting by the Italian artist Raphael. Pope Julius II commissioned the painting in 1512 for the church of San Sisto in Piacenza, and it was most likely completed between 1513 and 1514. Raphael created one of his last Madonnas on this canvas. "A genuinely uncommon and extraordinary work," said Giorgio Vasari.
The artwork was transported to Dresden in 1754, and its influence on the German and Russian art scenes is well known. It was transported to Moscow for a decade after WWII before being restored to Germany.
The work was commissioned as an altarpiece for the basilica church of the Benedictine Monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, with which the Rovere family had a long-standing tie, by Pope Julius II in honor of his late uncle, Pope Sixtus IV.
The painting was to show both Saints Sixtus and Barbara, according to the commission. According to legend, when Antonio da Correggio first saw the painting, he was moved to exclaim, "And I, too, I am a painter!"
Venus of Urbino by Titian
It shows a naked young woman, often associated with the goddess Venus, lounging on a couch or bed in the opulence of a Renaissance castle. It is now on display in Florence's Galleria degli Uffizi. The figure's stance is modeled on Giorgione's Dresden Venus, for which Titian at least completed the landscape.
Titian has domesticated Venus in this painting by bringing her indoors, engaging her with the audience, and emphasizing her sexuality; some even claim the figure is masturbating.
Both groups agree that the painting has a strong erotic charge, but beyond that, it is seen as a portrait of a courtesan, maybe Zaffetta, or as a painting commemorating the marriage of the painting's first owner (who according to some may not have commissioned it).
This issue is part of a larger discussion about the significance of the mostly Venetian tradition of the reclining female nude, which Titian had started (or helped to start) with the Dresden Venus of circa 1510–11. "It is yet to be proven that Titian's Venus of Urbino, the most famous example of this type, is anything more than a picture of a beautiful naked woman on a bed, devoid of classical or even allegorical substance," writes Charles Hope. Even Edgar Wind, the tireless seeker of allegories based on Renaissance Neoplatonism, had to accept that "an undisguised hedonism had at least obliterated the Platonic metaphors" in this case.
Portrait of Ginevra Benci by Leonardo da Vinci
Ginevra de' Benci is a portrait of the Florentine aristocrat Ginevra de' Benci (born c. 1458) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. purchased the oil-on-wood portrait in 1967. The Princely Family of Liechtenstein received US$5 million from the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, which was an absolute record price at the time.
It is the only Leonardo artwork on display in the Americas. The portrait's subject is often assumed to be Ginevra de' Benci, a well-known young Florentine woman. Between 1474 and 1478, Leonardo painted the picture in Florence, presumably to commemorate Ginevra's 16th-year marriage to Luigi di Bernardo Niccolini.
It's more than likely a memento of the engagement. Contemporary portraits of women were typically commissioned for one of two reasons: betrothal or marriage.
Wedding pictures were generally done in pairs, with the woman on the right facing left, and the man on the left looking right; because this image faced right, it is more likely to indicate betrothal.
The juniper bush that surrounds Ginevra's head and takes up a large portion of the background has a purpose other than decoration. The juniper was seen as a symbol of female virtue in Renaissance Italy, and the Italian term for juniper, ginepro, is a play on Ginevra's name.