Dated from the 14th to the 17th century, the Renaissance was a period in the history of Europe which saw great cultural development. The word “Renaissance” means “re-birth” and the period is named so because it was marked by renewed interest in ancient Greco-Roman culture. It started in Italy and spread across Europe leading to great changes in varied fields, which would have a profound and long-lasting effect on western civilization. Although the Renaissance period saw developments in many fields, it is most famous for its artistic achievements which exercised an unparalleled influence on subsequent European art. Italian painter and architect from Florence, Giotto di Bondone, is considered the first of the numerous great artists who contributed to the Renaissance. The High Renaissance, which marked the apex of the visual arts in the Renaissance, was led by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. Together these three created some of the most famous works in western art. Here are the 10 most famous artists of the Renaissance along with their masterpieces.

 

Tintoretto
Tintoretto

#10 Tintoretto

Lifespan: October 1518 – May 31, 1594

Nationality: Italian

The Venetian School, that developed in Venice during the Renaissance, provided a new impetus in painting toward lush colors and lighting effects. The Venetian style exerted great influence upon the subsequent development of Western painting. Along with Titian and Veronese, Tintoretto was one of the three Venetian giants during the Renaissance. During the Renaissance, artists in Italy developed perspective to create an illusion of three-dimensional space. Tintoretto stretched this technique to its limit by using long and vast perspectives. Tintoretto’s style was innovative and dramatic and he had fervor for colossal works. His art is known for its radical nature, flamboyance and modernity. Tintoretto was a highly individualistic painter whose technique and vision evolved through his career. His experiments with light and space led to him achieving a luminous visionary quality in his later works. Tintoretto is regarded as one of the most important artists of the late Renaissance.

Masterpiece: The Last Supper (1594)

The Last Supper (1594) by Jacopo Tintoretto
The Last Supper (1594) – Tintoretto

Other Famous Works:-

Crucifixion (1565)

St Mark’s Body Brought to Venice (1566)

 

Titian
Titian

#9 Titian

Lifespan: 1488/1490 – August 27, 1576

Nationality: Italian

Titian was the most important painter of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was a versatile painter, adept with portraits; landscape backgrounds; and mythological and religious subjects. During his long career, Titian experimented with many different styles of painting. He, in fact, radically revised his style and technique in his late years. The loose brushwork and subtlety of tone in his later works is without precedent in Western art. Titian’s use of color and painting methods, particularly his emphasis on the touches of the brush and even sometimes of fingertips, exercised profound influence not only on painters of the late Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. He is also known for transforming the history of art and of patronage, enabling kings and princes of the Church to commission sexual seductions as readily as crucifixions. Titian was hailed by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars”. He is today regarded by art critics as one of the greatest painters of all time.

Masterpiece: Venus of Urbino (1538)

Venus of Urbino (1538) - Titian
Venus of Urbino (1538) – Titian

Other Famous Works:-

Assumption of the Virgin (1518)

Bacchus and Ariadne (1523)

 

Albrecht Durer
Albrecht Durer

#8 Albrecht Dürer

Lifespan: May 21, 1471 – April 6, 1528

Nationality: German

Albrecht Dürer was a brilliant painter and draftsman but his greatest artistic impact was in the medium of printmaking. He started his career as an apprentice of Michael Wolgemut, who headed a large workshop and was the leader among the artists reviving the standards of German woodcut at the time. While still in his twenties, Durer had established his reputation and influence across Europe due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He went on to revolutionize printmaking, elevating it to the level of an independent art form and he is regarded as one of the foremost figures in the history of printmaking. Durer was in communication with the major Italian artists of his time, including Raphael and Da Vinci. His introduction of classical motifs into Northern art was an important contribution to the German Renaissance. Albrecht Durer is regarded as the greatest German artist of the Renaissance. He exerted a deep and profound influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking.

Masterpiece: Melencolia I (1514)

Melencolia I (1514)
Melencolia I (1514) – Albrecht Durer

Other Famous Works:-

Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar (1500)

Praying Hands (1508)

 

Hieronymus Bosch
Hieronymus Bosch

#7 Hieronymus Bosch

Lifespan: 1450 – August 9, 1516

Nationality: Dutch

Hieronymus Bosch was the first artist to depict innovative creatures and realms which are incomprehensible to humans. He once said, “Poor is the mind that always uses the inventions of others and invents nothing itself.” His art is renowned for containing grotesque humans, animals, monsters and fantastical creatures unknown to humans. The most acclaimed paintings of Bosch often depict a detailed and symbolic rendition of Heaven and Hell through biblical-themed landscapes. Among the prominent themes in his art is the venerability of humans when tempted by evil or lust; and the ultimate fate of sinners who succumb to these temptations. For a long time Bosch’s artworks were not much appreciated and considered “often less pleasant than gruesome to look at”. However, today Hieronymus Bosch is regarded as one of the first visionary geniuses of the art world and as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity’s desires and deepest fears.

Masterpiece: The Garden of Earthly Delights (1515)

The Garden of Earthly Delights (1515)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (1515) – Hieronymus Bosch

Other Famous Works:-

The Haywain Triptych (1516)

The Last Judgment (1482)

 

Giotto
Giotto

#6 Giotto

Lifespan: 1267 – January 8, 1337

Nationality: Italian

Giotto was the most important Italian painter of the 14th century, a period which falls under the Early Renaissance. Giotto revolutionized Western art to the point that he has been revered as the Father of European painting for almost seven centuries. The first of the great painters of the Renaissance, Giotto initiated the decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style and instead re-introduced “the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years”. The paintings of Giotto are known for being the first to masterfully capture the gestures, faces, sorrows and joys of human beings and for being faithful to nature. His fresco cycle on the Scrovegni Chapel is regarded as a supreme achievement of the Renaissance and one of the most important masterpieces in Western art. Some art historians believe that no one has ever painted better than Giotto, and only a handful have equaled him.

Masterpiece: The Kiss of Judas (1306)

The Kiss of Judas (1306) - Giotto
The Kiss of Judas (1306) – Giotto

Other Famous Works:-

Ognissanti Madonna (1310)

Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) (1306)

 

Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli

#5 Sandro Botticelli

Lifespan: 1445 – May 17, 1510

Nationality: Italian

Botticelli was perhaps the greatest humanist painter of the Early Renaissance. He painted a wide range of mythological and religious subjects and also a few portraits. Botticelli aimed to capture beauty and virtue through his works. The goddess Venus, who represents these qualities, appears in many of his best known works. The art of Botticelli is known for its visual brilliance and decorative quality that is not found in the paintings of succeeding Renaissance artists. His paintings The Birth of Venus and Primavera are two of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance. Botticelli rose to became one of the leading artists of his time, but after his death, his reputation suffered until the late 19th century. However, since then his art again started to be appreciated by critics and the public alike. Today he has become one of the most renowned Renaissance artists with his work seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.

Masterpiece: The Birth of Venus (1486)

The Birth of Venus (1486) - Botticelli
The Birth of Venus (1486) – Sandro Botticelli

Other Famous Works:-

Primavera (1482)

Adoration of the Magi (1476)

 

Donatello
Donatello

#4 Donatello

Lifespan: 1386 – December 13, 1466

Nationality: Italian

Donatello, along with his friend, the famous architect Filippo Brunelleschi, took a trip to Rome and studied the ancient Roman ruins, an endeavor not attempted in such great detail till then. Donatello and Brunelleschi went on to exert a great and profound influence on Renaissance art and architecture. Donatello gave a different direction to Western sculpture taking it away from the prevalent Gothic style, which was marked by softly curved lines and an expressionless face, to the Classical style with dramatic expressions and detailed realism. He also pioneered several artistic techniques which would have a profound and immense influence on later generations of Renaissance artists. Donatello was the leading sculptor of the early Renaissance and he created some of the most renowned sculptures in the world including the Bronze David and the Equestrian statue of Gattamelata.

Masterpiece: The Bronze David (1440s)

David (1440s) - Donatello
David (1440s) – Donatello

Other Famous Works:-

Equestrian statue of Gattamelata (1453)

Penitent Magdalene (1455)

 

Raphael
Raphael

#3 Raphael

Lifespan: April 6, 1483 – April 6, 1520

Nationality: Italian

The High Renaissance is a term used to denote the apex of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, forms the trinity of great masters of the High Renaissance. Raphael was perhaps the most popular painter during the Renaissance and even till late 19th century, his works were revered more than any other artist and he was regarded as the best model for history painting. Though Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s fame has surpassed his since then, Raphael is still considered among the greatest artists in history. He, more than anyone else, was a master in realistically depicting emotion which brought his paintings to life. His art is admired across the world for its clarity of form, ease of composition and visual brilliance. Many of his paintings, including his masterpiece, The School of Athens, are considered cornerstones of Renaissance art.

Masterpiece: The School of Athens (1511)

The School of Athens (1509) - Raphael
The School of Athens (1511) – Raphael

Other Famous Works:-

Sistine Madonna (1512)

Transfiguration (1520)

 

Michelangelo
Michelangelo

#2 Michelangelo

Lifespan: March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564

Nationality: Italian

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was a “Renaissance man” or “Universal Genius” who excelled in various fields including painting, architecture, poetry and engineering. However, above all, he is widely regarded as the greatest sculptor of all time. In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino (“the divine one”). After his death, subsequent artists tried to imitate his impassioned, highly personal style resulting in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art. Michelangelo is perhaps the most influential figure in the history of western art whose works in painting, sculpture and architecture have exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of art in the west. His statue of David is the most famous sculpture in the west; his frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgement on its altar wall guarantee him a place among the greatest painters; and his St. Peter’s Basilica is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.

Masterpiece: David (1504)

David - Michelangelo
David (1504) – Michelangelo

Other Famous Works:-

The Creation of Adam (1512)

St. Peter’s Basilica (1626)

 

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

#1 Leonardo da Vinci

Lifespan: April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519

Nationality: Italian

Leonardo da Vinci was the ideal Renaissance man, the greatest Universal Genius, who, among other things, was a painter, mathematician, engineer, architect, botanist, sculptor and anatomist. However for four centuries after his death his fame rested primarily on his laurels as a painter. His detailed knowledge of anatomy, light, botany and geology helped him in creating some of the most renowned masterpieces in history. Da Vinci is known for capturing subtle expressions due to which his paintings look more alive than others. He made numerous contributions to the field of art including his pioneering of the techniques known as sfumato, the smooth transition from light to shadow; and chiaroscuro, use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a three dimensional effect. Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, world’s most famous painting. Other famous works in art by him include The Last Supper, the most reproduced religious painting; and Vitruvian Man, one of the most reproduced artistic images. Leonardo da Vinci is, without doubt, the most famous artist of the Renaissance.

Masterpiece: Mona Lisa (1517)

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa (1517) – Leonardo da Vinci

Other Famous Works:-

The Last Supper (1498)

Vitruvian Man (1490)

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