8 Renaissance Artists Whose Work Transformed the Art World

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 Vaticanand his series of Dying Slaves located in the Louvre.

Famous Italian Renaissance Artists Michelangelo David

‘David' (c, 1501-1504) (Photo: MarcusObal via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Renaissance Artists Michelangelo Pieta

‘Pieta' (1513-1515) (Photo: Stanislav Traykov via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Renaissance Artists Michelangelo Dying Slave

‘Dying Slave' (1513-1515) (Photo: Jörg Bittner Unna via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

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.

sistine chapel

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512) and ‘The Last Judgment' (1536–1541)

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.

Famous Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa Facts Why is the Mona Lisa Famous

‘The Mona Lisa' (1503) (Photo: Galerie de tableaux en très haute définition via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-1923}})

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.

Famous Renaissance Artists Leonardo da Vinci The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

‘The Virgin and Child with St. Anne' (1500-1513) (Photo via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Renaissance Artists Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk

‘Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk' (c. 1510) (Photo: Web Gallery of Art via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})


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. 

Famous Italian Renaissance Artists Raphael

‘Madonna in the Grass' ( 1506) (Photo via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Italian Renaissance Artists Raphael

‘Transfiguration' (1518-1520) (Photo: Artist Hideout via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

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.

Famous Italian Renaissance Artists Raphael

‘The School of Athens' (1511) (Photo: Vatican Museums via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})


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.

Famous Renaissance Artists Botticelli Birth of Venus

‘The Birth of Venus' (c. 1486) (Photo via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Renaissance Artists Botticelli Primavera

‘Primavera' (1482) (Photo: Google Art Project via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})

Famous Renaissance Artists Botticelli Venus and Mars

‘Venus and Mars' (c. 1483) (Photo: The National Gallery UK via Wikimedia Commons {{PD-US}})


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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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