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5 Renaissance Paintings You Should Know
Get inspired 11 Apr 2022

5 Renaissance Paintings You Should Know

A glimpse at The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, 1512
A glimpse at The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, 1512 © Stuart Dee / Getty Images

The Renaissance is an era renowned for its incredible works of art. The painting style of the time was more realistic than ever, and covered many subjects that were previously considered taboo. Let Artsper bring to light some of the most famous artworks of the Renaissance we believe you should know about.

What was the Renaissance period?

The Renaissance period was a cultural movement that took place from the 14th to 17th centuries. It started in Italy and spread throughout Europe during this time. As a wide-ranging, holistic movement, it encapsulates advancements in the arts, science, literature and technology.

The word “Renaissance” means rebirth in Italian. During the Renaissance, a preoccupation with ideals from Ancient Greece and Rome. During this time, there was a renewed interest in classical art and culture. This led to an explosion in the production of new paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art.

Some of the most famous Renaissance artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. They were responsible for creating some of the most iconic paintings and sculptures of this time period. The Renaissance was an era of great ideological progress and it left a lasting impact on the world we live in today. It’s no wonder that Renaissance paintings are some of the most famous and well-known pieces of art in history!

Here are 5 Renaissance paintings you should know:

1. The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

The Birth of Venus, 1480, Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus, 1480, Sandro Botticelli © Wikipedia

Italian artist Sandro Botticelli probably executed The Birth of Venus painting in the mid-1480s. It depicts the goddess Venus arriving on the shore after her birth having emerged from the sea. The painting today, lies is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Although not a pair, the painting is inevitably evoked with Botticelli’s other very large mythological painting, the Primavera, also at the Uffizi. They are among the most famous paintings in the world and are icons of the Italian Renaissance. As depictions of subjects from classical mythology on a very large scale, they were virtually unprecedented in Western art since classical antiquity, as was the size and prominence of a nude female figure in the Birth. It was once thought that both works were commissioned by the same member of the Medici family, but this is now uncertain.

2. Primavera by Sandro Botticelli

Primavera, 1470-80, Sandro Botticelli
Primavera, 1470-80, Sandro Botticelli, © Wikipedia

Named after the Italian word meaning denoting spring, Primavera is a large panel painting in tempera paint by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli made in the late 1470s or early 1480s. The painting depicts a group of figures from classical mythology in a garden, but no uniting mythology has been found that brings this particular group together. Most critics agree that the painting is an allegory based on the lush growth of Spring related to Renaissance Neoplatonism which fascinated intellectual circles in Florence around the time.

3. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti

The Creation of Adam, 1508-12, Michelangelo Buonarroti © Wikipedia

A fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, painted in the period between 1508 and 1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man of humankind. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis. The painting, like many on this list, has been reproduced in countless imitations and re-imaginations. Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time.

4. The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

The Last Supper, 1495-98, Leonardo Da Vinci
The Last Supper, 1495-98, Leonardo Da Vinci © Wikipedia

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper is a mural painting by the Italian High Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci, said to have been painted between 1495 and 1498. The painting represents the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with the Twelve Apostles, as told in the Gospel of John. Its handling of space, mastery of geometrical perspective, treatment of emotion and motion of the figures, has made it one of the most famous of Western canon. Scholars often consider it pivotal in inaugurating the transition into what is now termed the High Renaissance in art.

5. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

The Mona Lisa, 1503-06, Leonardo Da Vinci
The Mona Lisa, 1503-06, Leonardo Da Vinci © Wikipedia

Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci painted the half-length portrait, Mona Lisa. Considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, it has been described as the best known work of art in the world. The painting’s worshipped qualities include the subject’s enigmatic expression, the subtlety of the tones, and the atmospheric depth of light. It is painted in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel. The painting is most probably of the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. However, no one is certain of this fact since Da Vinci never bestowed the painting to the Giocondo family. It was later believed to have been left it in his will to his favored apprentice Salaì.

The painting is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. The masterpiece took some time to finish and Leonardo may have continued working on it until as late as 1517. Since then, it was acquired by King Francis I of France. Currently the property of the French Republic, it has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797. The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known painting insurance valuation in history at US$100 million in 1962.

Here is a roundup of our top 5 Renaissance paintings you need to know about!

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