1400 - 1530. Centered in Italy, the Renaissance was a period of great creative and intellectual activity, during which artists broke away from the restrictions of medieval art. Throughout the 15th century, artists studied the natural world in order to perfect their understanding of such subjects as anatomy and perspective. Among the many great artists of this period were Giotto, Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Piero della Francesca. The Early Renaissance was succeeded by the mature High Renaissance period, which began circa 1500. The High Renaissance was the culmination of the artistic developments of the Early Renaissance, and one of the great explosions of creative genius in history of arts. It is notable for three of the greatest artists in history: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. Also active at that time were such masters as Giorgione, Titian and Giovanni Bellini. In northern Europe there was a Northern Renaissance period with artists such as Albrecht Durer and Pieter Bruegel.

Artists and Articles

Piero della Francesca

Piero della Francesca, an Italian artist, one of the greatest artists of the Early Renaissance. His painting art is characterized by its serene humanism and its use of geometric forms, particularly in relation to perspective. He wrote books on solid geometry and on perspective, and his works reflect these interests. Francesca's solid, rounded figures are derived from Masaccio, while from Domenico he absorbed a predilection for delicate colors and scenes bathed in cool, clear daylight. To these influences he added an innate sense of order and clarity. He conceived of the human figure as a volume in space, and the outlines of his subjects have the grace, abstraction, and precision of geometric drawings. Almost all of Piero's works are religious in nature - primarily altarpieces and church frescoes in which he presents scenes of astonishing beauty, with silent, stately figures fixed in clear, crystalline space. There are always large areas of white or near-white in his works, the skies are big, light and sunny. The monumental quality of his figures, the perspectival construction of the pictorial space and the spiritual calm of his compositions led, throughout Italy, to the final surmounting of the Gothic style and prepared the way for the artistic achievements of High Renaissance in Italy.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, Italian High Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist and inventor. Leonardo da Vinci was an amazing painter. His paintings contained incredible detail, which made them seem almost real. This detail included things like various shadow effects and textures which gave the works lifelike appearances. Although Leonardo produced a relatively small number of paintings, many of which remained unfinished, he was nevertheless an extraordinarily innovative and influential artist. As a scientist Leonardo towered above all his contemporaries - Leonardo actually anticipated many discoveries of modern times. In anatomy he studied the circulation of the blood and the action of the eye. He made discoveries in meteorology and geology, learned the effect of the moon on the tides, foreshadowed modern conceptions of continent formation, and surmised the nature of fossil shells. He was among the originators of the science of hydraulics. He invented a large number of ingenious machines, many potentially useful.


Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all times. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists of all time, a man whose name has become synonymous with the word "masterpiece". As an artist he was unmatched, the creator of works of sublime beauty that express the full breadth of the human condition. Giorgio Vasari proposed that Michelangelo was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to be influential in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino (the divine one), an appropriate name given his intense spirituality. One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance, Mannerism.


Raphael or Raffaello Sanzio is an Italian High Renaissance painter and architect of the Florentine school, celebrated for the perfection and grace of his art, his mastery of dynamic composition and movement. Raphael, like Michelangelo and Da Vinci, is one of the most famous artists of Italy's High Renaissance and one of the greatest influences in the history of Western art. Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome. By his artistic means Raphael has achieved constant movement throughout his paintings, without letting it become restless or unbalanced. Raphael was seen to have accomplished what the older generation had striven so hard to achieve: the perfect and harmonious composition of freely moving figures.


Tiziano Vecellio, better known as Titian, the leader of the 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian High/Late Renaissance, and the greatest Venetian artist of the 16th century, the shaper of the Venetian coloristic and painterly tradition. Titian contributed to all of the major areas of Renaissance art, painting altarpieces, portraits, mythologies, and pastoral landscapes. He is one of the key figures in the history of Western art. His work, which permanently affected the course of European painting, provided an alternative, of equal power and attractiveness, to the linear and sculptural Florentine tradition championed by Michelangelo and Raphael; this alternative, eagerly taken up by Rubens, Diego Velazquez, Rembrandt, Eugene Delacroix, and the Impressionists, is still vital today. In its own right Titian's work often attains the very highest reach of human achievement in the visual arts.

Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer, a German painter and printmaker. Durer is generally regarded as the greatest Northern Renaissance artist. His famous paintings have been the subject of extensive analysis and interpretation. His watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium. Durer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, have secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical works which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions. The quality and wide range of his works and themes, both in terms of content and formal aspects, are astonishing. Though his paintings were normally produced as the result of a commission - his two main areas of focus were portrait painting and the creation of altar pieces and devotional pictures - Durer enriched them with unusual pictorial solutions and adapted them to new functions. After his death, Durer remained one of the most highly regarded of artists for centuries, representing the process of transition from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance in Germany.



Art Encyclopedia A world history of art in articles.


Art Wallpapers Art image collections for your desktop.