Italian Renaissance Artists
Renowned for his attention to detail and his knowledge of human anatomy, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is celebrated as one of history’s finest sculptors. During his lifetime (1475-1564), the Florentine artist created several marble masterpieces admired for their lifelike aesthetic. These works include the iconic David statue housed in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, the monumental Pieta in the Vatican, and his series of Dying Slaves located in the Louvre.
In addition to sculpting, Michelangelo was also skilled in architecture, poetry, and painting. He is most often associated with his frescoes, like the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the adjacent painting, The Last Judgment, which have been regarded as masterpieces for centuries.
Leonardo da Vinci
Often referred to as a “Renaissance man,” Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) specialized in a myriad of practices, from engineering, invention, and science to drawing, painting, and architecture.
While countless well-known works compose his body of work, his mysterious Mona Lisa—an oil painting of a seated female figure with a slight smile—is arguably his most famous work of art.
Like many other artists of his time, he also painted religious depictions, like the recently restored The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, as well as a self-portrait, titled Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk.
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or Raphael (1482-1520), is held today as a master of form and composition. Although he died at just 37 years old, the Italian architect and painter left behind a vast body of work. He is primarily known for his Madonna paintings, including his vivid Madonna in the Grass, as well as other religious depictions, like his dramatic Transfiguration.
Like Michelangelo, his contemporary, Raphael also produced frescoes for the Vatican. The School of Athens, the most well-known piece of this kind, celebrates philosophy, as it features great Greek minds like Aristotle, Plato, and Ptolemy. The School of Athens is one of four murals by Raphael that depict the main branches of knowledge, which also include poetry, theology, and law.
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (1445-1510), known as Sando Botticelli, was a painter of the Florentine School. Though he dabbled in small, secular portraiture and religious depictions, he primarily painted large-scale scenes of Greek mythology. While, these pieces are seen as undeniable examples of Renaissance painting today, they were novel at the time of their creation due to their size and allegorical subject matter.
These iconic paintings include The Birth of Venus, Primavera (both in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery), and Venus and Mars.