Renaissance painting  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
Venus of Urbino (1538, detail) by Titian. The frankness of Venus' expression is often noted; she makes direct eye contact with the viewer
Venus of Urbino (1538, detail) by Titian. The frankness of Venus' expression is often noted; she makes direct eye contact with the viewer

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Renaissance painting bridges the period of European art history between the art of the Middle Ages and Baroque art. Painting of this era is connected to the "rebirth" (renaissance in French) of classical antiquity, the impact of humanism on artists and their patrons, new artistic sensibilities and techniques, and, in general, the transition from the Medieval period to the Early modern age.

In the visual arts, significant achievements occur around 1400 in both Italy and north of the Alps. Masaccio's art and the writings of Leon Battista Alberti helped establish linear perspective and the idealisation of the human body as primary ideas of Italian Renaissance painting in the early 15th century. Likewise, Early Netherlandish artists such as Jan van Eyck were innovators in oil painting and intuitive spatial compositions. The brief High Renaissance (c. 1500–1520) centred around Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael in Florence and Rome, was a culmination of the Italian achievements, while artists like Albrecht Dürer brought a similar level of intellectual and artistic innovation to northern Europe. Late Renaissance painting, from about 1520 until the end of the 16th century, is marked by various Mannerist tendencies that spread from Italy through the rest of France.


Themes and symbolism

Renaissance artists painted a wide variety of themes. Religious altarpieces, fresco cycles, and small works for private devotion were very popular. For inspiration, painters in both Italy and northern Europe frequently turned to Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (1260), a highly influential source book for the lives of saints that had already had a strong influence on Medieval artists. The rebirth of classical antiquity and Renaissance humanism also resulted in many Mythological and history paintings. Ovidian stories, for example, were very popular. Decorative ornament, often used in painted architectural elements, was especially influenced by classical Roman motifs.


  • The use of perspective: The first major treatment of the painting as a window into space appeared in the work of Giotto di Bondone, at the beginning of the 14th century. True linear perspective was formalized later, by Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti. In addition to giving a more realistic presentation of art, it moved Renaissance painters into painting more paintings.
  • Balance and Proportion: proper sizes and the use of airy, bright colors. The human anatomy wasn't as idealized as during the ancient times.

Italian artists

Artists of the Low Countries

Main articles: Early Netherlandish painting for 15th century artists, Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting for 16th century artists

German artists

French artists

Spanish Artists


Major collections

General Collections:

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Renaissance painting" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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