Italian Renaissance painting

painting - Italian Renaissance painting
Photograph by Franck Réthoréon Flickr.

Unfortunately the building was mostly destroyed during World War II, and they are only known from photographs which reveal an Italian Renaissance painting already highly developed sense of perspective and a knowledge of antiquity, for which the ancient University of Padua had become painting well known, early in the 15th century. Mantegna s most famous Italian Renaissance painting work is the interior decoration of the Camera degli Sposi for the Gonzaga family in Mantua, dated about 1470. Paolo Uccello, a hundred years later, experimented Gettysburg Cyclorama with the dramatic effect of light in some of his almost-monochrome frescoes.

Luca della Robbia, famous for his cantoria gallery at the Italian Renaissance painting cathedral, was the first sculptor to use glazed terracotta for large sculptures. While the whole work is exceptional for its breadth, quality and intact state, the treatment of human emotion is conservative by comparison with that of Altichiero s Crucifixion at the Basilica of Sant Antonio, also in Padua.

It is Perugino s scene of Christ giving the Keys to St. The painter Antonello da Messina seems to have had access to the King s collection, which may have included the works of Jan van Eyck.

In the Tornabuoni Chapel is another portrait of Poliziano, accompanied Italian Renaissance painting by the other influential members of the Platonic Academy including Marsilio Ficino. From about 1450, with the arrival in Italy of the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden and possibly earlier, artists were introduced to the medium of oil paint. Their commissions were mostly religious paintings, several of them being very Italian Renaissance painting large altarpieces showing the Madonna and Child.

He studied and drew the flowers of the fields, the eddies of the river, the form of the rocks and mountains, the way light reflected from foliage and sparkled in a jewel. He also worked on the high altar and created a series of bronze panels in which he achieved a remarkable illusion of depth, with perspective in the architectural settings and apparent roundness of the human form all in very shallow relief. At only 17 years old, Mantegna accepting his first commission, fresco cycles of the Lives of Saints James and Christopher for the Eremitani Chapel, near the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.

Rembrandt s knowledge of the works of both Titian and Raphael is apparent in his portraits. Being narrative in subject and employing not only skill in arranging figurative compositions but also the burgeoning skill of linear perspective, the doors were to have an enormous influence on the development of Florentine pictorial art.

Taddeo Gaddi in his nocturnal scene in the Baroncelli Chapel demonstrated how light could be used to create drama. The walls are frescoed with scenes of the life of the Gonzaga family, talking, greeting a younger son and his tutor on their return from Rome, preparing for a hunt and other such scenes which make no obvious reference to matters historic, literary, philosophic or religious.

The way that the light streams in through every door and window casting both natural light and reflected light across the architecture and all the objects would have excited Piero della Francesca. They both were called by the name of Tommaso and were nicknamed Masaccio and Masolino, Big Tom and Little Tom. More than any other artist, Masaccio recognised the implications in the work of Giotto.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling was constructed in such a way that there were twelve sloping pendentives supporting the vault that formed ideal surfaces on which to paint the Twelve Apostles. The open lower storey of the building was enclosed and dedicated as Orsanmichele. Depictions of the Madonna and Child were a very popular art form in Florence.

He seems to have been exposed to Flemish painting at a date earlier than the Florentines, to have quickly seen the potential of oils as a medium and then painted in nothing else. His larger work, the Sistine Madonna, used as a design for countless stained glass windows, has come, in the 21st century, to provide the iconic image of two small cherubs which has been reproduced on everything from paper table napkins to umbrellas. Giovanni Bellini was the exact contemporary of his brother Gentile, his brother-in-law Mantegna and Antonello da Messina.

Michelangelo, who had yielded to the Pope s demands with little grace, soon devised an entirely different scheme, far more complex both in design and in iconography. The Black Death of 1348 caused its survivors to focus on the need to approach death in a state of penitence and absolution.

In his paintings such as the Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks, he used light and shade with such subtlety that, for want of a better word, it became known as Leonardo s sfumato or smoke . Simultaneous to inviting the viewer into a mysterious world of shifting shadows, chaotic mountains and whirling torrents, Leonardo achieved a degree of realism in the expression of human emotion, prefigured by Giotto but unknown since Masaccio s Adam and Eve. The altarpiece glows with intense reds and greens, contrasting with the glossy black velvet robes of the Portinari donors.

Peter in the chapel of the Brancacci family, at the Carmelite Church in Florence. His first signed and dated painting, executed at the age of 21, is the Betrothal of the Virgin, which immediately reveals its origins in Perugino s Christ giving the Keys to Peter. Raphael was a carefree character who unashamedly drew on the skills of the renowned painters whose lifespans encompassed his.

They were to set a standard to be emulated by other artists of Florence. Among those who painted devotional Madonnas during the Early Renaissance are Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Verrocchio and Davide Ghirlandaio. This picture is remarkable for the clarity and simplicity of its composition, the beauty of the figurative painting, which includes a selfportrait among the onlookers, and especially the perspective cityscape which includes reference to Peter s ministry to Rome by the presence of two triumphal arches, and centrally placed an octagonal building which might be a Christian baptistry or a Roman Mausoleum. Leonardo, because of the scope of his interests and the extraordinary degree of talent that he demonstrated in so many diverse areas, is regarded as the archetypal Renaissance man .

The paintings gave full range to their capabilities as they included a great number of figures of men, women and children and characters ranging from guiding angels to enraged Pharaohs and the devil himself. Bernardino, all worked in a manner that was highly formalised and dependent upon the ancient tradition of icon painting. Giotto, (1266–1337), by tradition a shepherd boy from the hills north of Florence, became Cimabue s apprentice and emerged as the most outstanding painter of his time. Giotto had a number of contemporaries who were either trained and influenced by him, or whose observation of nature had led them in a similar direction.

The work was later finished by Filippino Lippi. Michelangelo was to call them the Gates of Paradise. In 1426 two artists commenced painting a fresco cycle of the Life of St.

We see Venus in both these roles in the two famous tempera paintings that Botticelli did in the 1480s for Cosimo s nephew, Pierfrancesco Medici, the Primavera and the Birth of Venus. Meanwhile, Ghirlandaio, a meticulous and accurate draughtsman and one of the finest portrait painters of his age, executed two cycles of frescoes for Medici associates in two of Florence s larger churches, the Sassetti Chapel at Santa Trinita and the Tornabuoni Chapel at Santa Maria Novella. Each panel shows some strongly classicising motifs indicating the direction that art and philosophy were moving, at that time.

It is unknown exactly when these frescoes were begun but it is generally presumed they post-date 1348. Two important fresco painters were active in Padua in the late 14th century, Altichiero and Giusto de Menabuoi. They are starkly simple, restrained in colour and intense in mood as the artist sought to make spiritual revelations a visual reality. The earliest truly Renaissance images in Florence date from the first year of the century known in Italian as Quattrocento, synonymous with the Early Renaissance.

Titian gave the world images of Pietro Aretino and Pope Paul III and many other people of his day, perhaps his most powerful portrait being that of Doge Andrea Gritti, ruler of Venice, who looms large in the picture space, one huge hand clasping his heavily-buttoned robe in a dynamic Expressionistic gesture. Giusto s work relies on formalised gestures, where Altichiero relates the incidents surrounding Christ s death with great human drama and intensity. In Florence, at the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella, Andrea Bonaiuti was commissioned to emphasise the role of the Church in the redemptive process, and that of the Dominican Order in particular.

Patrons of art works such as altarpieces and fresco cycles often were included in the scenes, a notable example being the inclusion of the Sassetti and Medici families in Ghirlandaio s cycle in the Sassetti Chapel. The following list presents a summary, dealt with more fully in the main articles that are cited above. Much painting of the Renaissance period was commissioned by or for the Catholic Church.

History and historic characters were often depicted in a way that reflected on current events or on the lives of current people. Thanks to Sassetti s patronage, there is a portrait of the man himself, with his employer, Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Lorenzo s three sons with their tutor, the Humanist poet and philosopher, Agnolo Poliziano.

They are remarkable for simply being about family life. The one concession is the scattering of jolly winged cherubs who hold up plaques and garlands and clamber on the illusionistic pierced balustrade that surrounds a trompe l oeil view of the sky that decks the ceiling of the chamber. While Mantegna was working for the Gonzagas in Mantua, a very different painter was being employed to design an even more ambitious scheme for the Este family of Ferrara.

In the lower tiers, as in the Camera degli Sposi, are shown the life of the family. Because of the scale of the figures that the artists agreed upon, in each picture, the landscape and sky take up the whole upper half of the scene.

Another painting, called the Philosophers may represent the Magi planning their journey in search of the infant Christ, but this is not certain either. Cosmè Tura s painting is highly distinctive, both strangely Gothic yet Classicising at the same time.

The rounded forms and luminous colours of Perugino, the lifelike portraiture of Ghirlandaio, the realism and lighting of Leonardo and the powerful draughtsmanship of Michelangelo became unified in the paintings of Raphael. But it was first and foremost as a painter that he was admired within his own time, and as a painter, he drew on the knowledge that he gained from all his other interests. Leonardo was a scientific observer.

Jerome in His Study, in which the composition is framed by a late Gothic arch, through which is viewed an interior, domestic on one side and ecclesiastic on the other, in the centre of which the saint sits in a wooden corral surrounded by his possessions while his lion prowls in the shadows on the tiled floor. Humanism also influenced the manner in which religious themes were depicted, notably on Michelangelo s Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Other motifs were drawn from contemporary life, sometimes with allegorical meaning, some sometimes purely decorative.

He carried the technique north to Venice with him, where it was soon adopted by Giovanni Bellini and became the favoured medium of the maritime republic where the art of fresco had never been a great success. Antonello da Messina painted mostly small meticulous portraits in glowing colours. They took every shape from small mass-produced terracotta plaques to magnificent altarpieces such as those by Cimabue, Giotto and Masaccio. In the 15th and first half of the 16th centuries, one workshop more than any other dominated the production of Madonnas.

The High Renaissance period was that of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. Francis of Assisi.

His own portrait is to the right, beside his teacher, Perugino. But the main source of Raphael s popularity was not his major works, but his small Florentine pictures of the Madonna and Christ Child. His work influenced both Gentile Bellini, who did a series of paintings of Miracles of Venice for the Scuola di Santa Croce, and his more famous brother, Giovanni, one of the most significant painters of the High Renaissance in Northern Italy. In Florence, in the latter 15th century, most works of art, even those that were done as decoration for churches, were generally commissioned and paid for by private patrons.

In the total of 50 years that Ghiberti worked on them, the doors provided a training ground for many of the artists of Florence. Over and over he painted the same plump calm-faced blonde woman and her succession of chubby babies, the most famous probably being La Belle Jardinière ( The Madonna of the Beautiful Garden ), now in the Louvre.

Peter. One of his paintings, of a landscape known as the Tempest, with a semi-naked woman feeding a baby, a clothed man, some classical columns and a flash of lightning, perhaps represents Adam and Eve in their post-Eden days, or perhaps it doesn t.

The interior of the new chapel, named the Sistine Chapel in his honour, appears to have been planned from the start to have a series of 16 large frescoes between its pilasters on the middle level, with a series of painted portraits of popes above them. In 1479, a group of artists from Florence was commissioned with the work: Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli. In fact, the ancestors of Christ, which he painted around the upper section of the wall, demonstrate all the worst aspects of family relationships, displaying disfunction in as many different forms as there are families. Vasari praised Michelangelo s seemingly infinite powers of invention in creating postures for the figures.

Taddeo Gaddi achieved the first large painting of a night scene in an Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Baroncelli Chapel of the Church of Santa Croce, Florence. The paintings in the Upper Church of the Basilica of St. Borso, according to Tura s personal records, employed him in 1470 to design the decorative scheme for the banquetting hall, to be executed by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de Roberti. The scheme is both symbolically complex and elaborate in execution.

In Brunelleschi s panel, one of the additional figures included in the scene is reminiscent of a well-known Roman bronze figure of a boy pulling a thorn from his foot. The best known is his equestrian portrait of John Hawkwood on the wall of Florence Cathedral.

The custom was continued by Botticelli who produced a series of Madonnas over a period of twenty years for the Medici; Perugino, whose Madonnas and saints are known for their sweetness and Leonardo da Vinci, for whom a number of small attributed Madonnas such as the Benois Madonna have survived. Working most of his life in the studio of his brother, and strongly influenced by the crisp style of Mantegna, he does not appear to have produced an independently signed painting until he was in his late 50s.

Although areas of the frescoes are very badly damaged to the extent that the subject can no longer be identified, and although there are several different hands apparent in the works, there appears to be a consistency in the design of every remaining scene that shows the overriding eccentric style of Cosmè Tura. In 1442 Alfonso V of Aragon became ruler of Naples, bringing with him a collection of Flemish paintings and setting up a Humanist Academy. But one of his most famous works also demonstrates his superior ability at handling linear perspective and light.

The Mannerist period included Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo and Tintoretto. He learned by looking at things.

The four paintings on the end walls were unfortunately destroyed. The remaining 12 pictures indicate the virtuosity that these artists had attained, and the obvious cooperation between individuals who normally employed very different styles and who had very different skills. Rather, his work was the culmination of all the developments of the High Renaissance. Raphael had the good luck to be born the son of a painter, so his career path, unlike that of Michelangelo who was the son of minor nobility, was decided without a quarrel.

Brunelleschi s creation is challenging in its dynamic intensity. It is a masterful composition which extends the real architecture of the building into the illusionistic architecture of the painting, making the niche a sort of loggia opened up to the landscape and to daylight which streams across the figures of the Virgin and Child, the two female saints and the little angel who plays a viola making them brighter than the two elderly male saints who stand to the fore in the picture, Peter deep in thought and Jerome immersed in a book. Whilst the style of Giorgione s painting clearly relates to that of his presumed master, Giovanni Bellini, his subject matter makes him one of the most original and abstruse artists of the Renaissance.

Leonardo da Vinci was to carry forward Piero s work on light. The Blessed Virgin Mary, revered by the Catholic Church worldwide, was particularly evoked in Florence, where there was a miraculous image of her on a column in the corn market and where both the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Flowers and the large Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella were named in her honour. The miraculous image in the corn market was sadly destroyed by fire, but replaced with a new image in the 1330s by Bernardo Daddi, set in an elaborately designed and lavishly wrought canopy by Orcagna. They are the artistic heirs of Giorgione s nude. On his premature death, Titian completed the painting and went on to paint a great more naked women, most frequently, as Botticelli did, disguising them as goddesses and surrounding them with sylvan woods and starry skies to make perfect decoration for the walls of rich clientele.

His first set of Baptistry doors took 27 years to complete, after which he was commissioned to make another. Tura poses Classical figures as if they were saints, surrounds them with luminous symbolic motifs of surreal perfection and clothes them in garments that appear to be crafted out of intricately folded and enamelled copper. Borso d Este s family had constructed a large banquetting hall and suite known as the Palazzo Schifanoia.

For the month of March, for example, the figure of Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, is represented and in the panel beneath Borso d Este is administering justice, while in the distance workers are pruning vines. In the foreground is a still life of flowers in contrasting containers, one of glazed pottery and the other of glass.

From this time linear perspective was understood and regularly employed, notably by Perugino in his Christ Giving the Keys to St. The Early Renaissance was marked by the work of Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Uccello, Piero della Francesca and Verrocchio.

They were the della Robbia family, and they were not painters but modellers in clay. Increasingly, Classical themes were also seen as providing suitable allegorical material for civic commissions.

It is in his frescoes at his convent of Sant Marco that Fra Angelico shows himself the artistic disciple of Giotto. The figures of Classical mythology began to take on a new symbolic role in Christian art and in particular, the Goddess Venus took on a new discretion.

Incidents important to a particular family might be recorded like those in the Camera degli Sposi that Mantegna painted for the Gonzaga family at Mantua. The style is fully developed in the works of Simone Martini and Gentile da Fabriano which have an elegance and a richness of detail, and an idealised quality not compatible with the starker realities of Giotto s paintings. In the early 15th century, bridging the gap between International Gothic and the Renaissance are the paintings of Fra Angelico, many of which, being altarpieces in tempera, show the Gothic love of elaboration, gold leaf and brilliant colour.

Francis, Assisi, are examples of naturalistic painting of the period, often ascribed to Giotto himself, but more probably the work of artists surrounding Pietro Cavallini. In these cycles of the Life of St Francis and the Life of the Virgin Mary and Life of John the Baptist there was room for portraits of patrons and of the patrons patrons.

Giusto s masterpiece, the decoration of the Cathedral s Baptistery, follows the theme of humanity s Creation, Downfall and Salvation, also having a rare Apocalypse cycle in the small chancel. During the last 30 years of his life he was both extraordinarily productive and influential, having the guidance of both Giorgione and Titian. Bellini, like his much younger contemporary, Raphael, produced numerous small Madonnas in rich glowing colour, usually of more intense tonality than his Florentine counterpart.

Among his works, the figures of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden, painted on the side of the arch into the chapel, are renowned for their realistic depiction of the human form and of human emotion. Of the internal source, though the light itself is invisible, its position can be calculated with mathematical certainty.

The competitors, of which there were seven young artists, were each to design a bronze panel of similar shape and size, representing the Sacrifice of Isaac. Two of the panels have survived, that by Lorenzo Ghiberti and that by Brunelleschi. A detailed background is given in the companion articles Renaissance and Renaissance architecture. Italian Renaissance painting can be divided into four periods: The Proto-Renaissance begins with the professional life of the painter Giotto and includes Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna and Altichiero.

The inevitability of death, the rewards for the penitent and the penalties of sin were emphasised in a number of frescoes, remarkable for their grim depictions of suffering and their surreal images of the torments of Hell. These include the Triumph of Death by Giotto s pupil Orcagna, now in a fragmentary state at the Museum of Santa Croce, and the Triumph of Death in the Camposanto Monumentale at Pisa by an unknown painter, perhaps Francesco Traini or Buonamico Buffalmacco who worked on the other three of a series of frescoes on the subject of Salvation. He carried forward the practice of painting from nature.

Churches also commissioned altarpieces which were painted in tempera on panel and later in oil on canvas. In particular, he studied the human form, dissecting thirty or more unclaimed cadavers from a hospital in order to understand muscles and sinews. More than any other artist, he advanced the study of atmosphere .

They were a unifying factor, a source of pride and camaraderie for both the city and its artists. The Nativity of Jesus and the Finding of Moses were adjacent on the wall behind the altar, with an altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin by Perugino between them.

In the Renaissance it came increasingly to be associated with enlightenment. His fresco Allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church is remarkable for its depiction of Florence Cathedral, complete with the dome which was not built until the following century. During the later 14th century, International Gothic was the style that dominated Tuscan painting.

Some years after his father s death he worked in the Umbrian workshop of Perugino, an excellent painter and a superb technician. The direct influences of Leonardo and Raphael upon their own pupils was to effect generations of artists including Poussin and schools of Classical painters of the 18th and 19th centuries.

But despite the beauty of the individual figures, Michelangelo has not glorified the human state, and he certainly has not presented the Humanist ideal of platonic love. In his short life he executed a number of large altarpieces, an impressive Classical fresco of the sea nymph, Galatea, outstanding portraits with two popes and a famous writer among them, and, while Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a series of wall frescoes in the Vatican chambers nearby, of which the School of Athens is uniquely significant. This fresco depicts a meeting of all the most learned ancient Athenians, gathered in a grand classical setting around the central figure of Plato, whom Raphael has famously modelled upon Leonardo da Vinci.

These devotional paintings, which adorn the cells and corridors inhabited by the friars, represent episodes from the life of Jesus, many of them being scenes of the Crucifixion. A late painting by Cimabue in the Lower Church at Assisi, of the Madonna and St.

One thing that appears to be certain is that Giorgione painted a female nude, the very first female nude that stands, or rather, lies, as a subject to be portrayed and admired for beauty alone. There are no need for Classical references in this painting, although in later nudes Titian, Velazquez, Veronese, Rembrandt, Rubens and even Manet saw fit to add some. Peter in the Sistine Chapel. Giotto used tonality to create form.

Italian Renaissance painting is the painting of the period from the early 15th to mid 16th centuries occurring within the area of present-day Italy, which was at that time divided into many political areas. Francis, also clearly shows greater naturalism than his panel paintings and the remains of his earlier frescoes in the upper church. A common theme in the decoration of Medieval churches was the Last Judgement, which frequently occupies a sculptural space above the west door, or, as in the case of the Giotto s Scrovegni Chapel, is painted on the inner west wall.

Many of the durable works of this family have survived. Brunelleschi is known to have done a number of careful studies of the piazza and octagonal baptistery outside Florence Cathedral and it is thought he aided Masaccio in the creation of his famous trompe l oeil niche around the Holy Trinity he painted at Santa Maria Novella. According to Vasari, Paolo Uccello was so obsessed with perspective that he thought of little else and experimented with it in many paintings, the best known being the three Battle of San Romano pictures which use broken weapons on the ground, and fields on the distant hills to give an impression of perspective. In the 1450s Piero della Francesca, in paintings such as The Flagellation of Christ, demonstrated his mastery over linear perspective and also over the science of light.

John, the oldest remaining church in the city. Another painting exists, a cityscape, by an unknown artist, perhaps Piero della Francesca, that demonstrates the sort of experiment that Brunelleschi had been making.

This fresco cycle was to depict the Life of Moses on one side of the chapel and the Life of Christ on the other with the frescoes complementing each other in theme. Apart from large altarpieces, small devotional pictures were produced in very large numbers, both for churches and for private individuals, the most common theme being the Madonna and Child. Throughout the period, civic commissions were also important, local government buildings like the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena being decorated with frescoes and other works both secular, such as the Allegory of Good Government, and religious, such as Simone Martini s fresco of the Maèsta. Portraiture was uncommon in the 14th and early 15th century, being mostly limited to civic commemorative pictures such as the equestrian portraits of Guidoriccio da Fogliano by Simone Martini, 1327, in Siena and, of the early 15th century, John Hawkwood by Uccello in Florence Cathedral and its companion portraying Niccolò da Tolentino by Andrea del Castagno. During the 15th century portraiture became common, initially often formalised profile portraits but increasingly three-quarter face, bust-length portraits.

These two painters, with their contemporaries, Guido of Siena, Coppo di Marcovaldo and the mysterious painter upon whose style the school may have originated, the so-called Master of St. Portraiture was to become a major subject for High Renaissance painters such as Raphael and Titian and continue into the Mannerist period in works of artists such as Bronzino. With the growth of Humanism, artists turned to Classical themes, particularly to fulfil commissions for the decoration of the homes of wealthy patrons, the best known being Botticelli s Birth of Venus for the Medici.

There were also many allegorical paintings on the theme of Salvation and the role of the Church in attaining it. Much of the patronage came from the Medici family, or those who were closely associated with or related to them, such as the Sassetti, the Ruccellai and the Tornabuoni. In the 1460s Cosimo de Medici the Elder had established Marsilio Ficino as his resident Humanist philosopher, and facilitated his translation of Plato and his teaching of Platonic philosophy, which focused on humanity as the centre of the natural universe, on each person s personal relationship with God, and on fraternal or platonic love as being the closest that a person could get to emulating or understanding the love of God. In the Medieval period, everything related to the Classical period was perceived as associated with paganism.

Piero grouped saints around the throne, in the architectural space. Bellini used this same form, known as Sacred conversations, in several of his later altarpieces such as that for the Venetian church of San Zaccaria. Sometimes, as in Botticelli s scene of the Purification of the Leper, there are additional small narratives taking place in the landscape, in this case the Temptation of Christ. Of the paintings, one stands out.

The scale of the work, which he executed single handed except for manual assistance, was titanic and took nearly five years to complete. The Pope s plan for the Apostles would thematically have formed a pictorial link between the Old Testament and New Testament narratives on the walls, and the popes in the gallery of portraits. Superficially, the ceiling is a Humanist construction. Mannerism is dealt with in a separate article. The influences upon the development of Renaissance painting in Italy are those that also affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of society.

These Madonnas multiplied prolifically as they were reproduced by other members of the large Bellini studio, one tiny picture, the Circumcision of Christ existing in four or five almost identical versions. Traditionally, in the painting of altarpieces of the Madonna and Child, the enthroned figure of the Virgin is accompanied by saints, who stand in defined spaces, separated physically in the form of a polytych or defined by painted architectural boundaries. Antonello da Messina s work had a direct influence on Albrecht Dürer and Martin Schongauer and through the latter s engravings, countless artists including the German, Dutch and English schools of stained glass makers extending into the early 20th century. Michelangelo s Sistine Chapel ceiling and later The Last Judgment had direct influence on the figurative compositions firstly of Raphael and his pupils and then almost every subsequent 16th century painter who looked for new and interesting ways to depict the human form.

It is possible to trace his style of figurative composition through Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Bronzino, Parmigianino, Veronese, to el Greco, Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin and Tiepolo to both the Classical and the Romantic painters of the 19th century such as Jacques Louis David and Delacroix. Under the influence of the Italian Renaissance painting, many modern academies of art, such as the Royal Academy, were founded, and it was specifically to collect the works of the Italian Renaissance that some of the world s best known art collections, such as the National Gallery, London, were formed. . It can be seen to an extent in the work of Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti which is marked by a formalized sweetness and grace in the figures, and Late Gothic gracefulness in the draperies.

The highly flexibly medium of oils, which could be made opaque or transparent, and allowed alteration and additions for days after it had been laid down, opened a new world of possibility to Italian artists. In 1475 a huge altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds arrived in Florence. Even Michelangelo who was primarily a sculptor, was persuaded to paint the Doni Tondo, while for Raphael, they are among his most popular and numerous works. One of the most influential painters of northern Italy was Andrea Mantegna of Padua, who had the good fortune to be in his teen years at the time in which the great Florentine sculptor Donatello was working there.

The Baptistry is a large octagonal building in the Romanesque style, whose origins had been forgotten and which was popularly believed to date from Roman times. The overriding theme is the Cycle of the Year as represented by the signs of the zodiac accompanied by the mysterious Deans each ruling ten days of the month.

The painting of the Brancacci Chapel was left incomplete when Masaccio died at 26. Raphael, who was given a preview by Bramante after Michelangelo had downed his brush and stormed off to Bologna in a temper, painted at least two figures in imitation of Michelangelo s prophets, one at the church of Sant Agostino and the other in the Vatican, his portrait of Michelangelo himself in The School of Athens. With Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael s name is synonymous with the High Renaissance.

Portraits were often painted of contemporaries in the guise of characters from history or literature. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular courts and with loyalties to particular towns, nonetheless wandered the length and breadth of Italy, often occupying a diplomatic status and disseminating both artistic and philosophical ideas. The city that is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance and in particular, Renaissance painting, is Florence.

Many other Renaissance artists painted versions of the Last Supper, but only Leonardo s was destined to be reproduced countless times in wood, alabaster, plaster, lithograph, tapestry, crochet and table-carpets. Apart from the direct impact of the works themselves, Leonardo s studies of light, anatomy, landscape, and human expression were disseminated in part through his generosity to a retinue of students. In 1508 Pope Julius II succeeded in getting the sculptor Michelangelo to agree to continue the decorative scheme of the Sistine Chapel. Each painting required a landscape.

It cannot be said of him that he greatly advanced the state of painting as his two famous contemporaries did. However, he was younger than Michelangelo by 18 years and Leonardo by nearly 30.

These works were often of large scale and were frequently cycles painted in fresco of the Life of Christ, the Life of the Virgin or the life of a saint, particularly St. The glass vase alone was enough to excite attention.

But it was as a painter of portraits that Titian excelled, his longevity allowing him to achieve far more, both in the way of production and in stylistic development than either Giorgione or his Florentine contemporary Raphael were able to. He kneels on a tomb decorated with acanthus scrolls that are also a reference to the art of Ancient Rome.

The brooding figure of Heraclitus who sits by a large block of stone, is a portrait of Michelangelo, and is an obvious reference to the latter s painting of the Prophet Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel. Ghiberti has used the naked figure of Isaac to create a small sculpture in the Classical style.

It has three large portals, the central one being filled at that time by a set of doors created by Andrea Pisano eighty years earlier. Pisano s doors were divided into 28 quatrofoil compartments, containing narratives scenes from the Life of John the Baptist. Although several of Giotto s pupils assimilated the direction that his work had taken, none was to become as successful as he.

The figures are of superhuman dimension and, in the case of Adam, of such beauty that according to the biographer Vasari, it really looks as if God himself had designed the figure, rather than Michelangelo. The interior of its dome is decorated with an enormous mosaic figure of Christ in Majesty thought to have been designed by Coppo di Marcovaldo.

This is the small painting of St. In the Flagellation he demonstrates a knowledge of how light is proportionally disseminated from its point of origin.

But the most influential aspect of the triptych was the extremely natural and lifelike quality of the three shepherds with stubbly beards, workworn hands and expressions ranging from adoration to wonder to incomprehension. The writings of Dante, Voragine s Golden Legend and Boccaccio s Decameron were important sources of themes. In all these subjects, increasingly, and in the works of almost all painters, certain underlying painterly practices were being developed: the observation of nature, the study of anatomy, the study of light and the study of perspective. The art of the region of Tuscany in the late 13th century was dominated by two masters of the Byzantine style, Cimabue of Florence and Duccio of Siena.

The skill of the della Robbias, particularly Andrea della Robbia, was to give great naturalism to the babies that they modelled as Jesus, and expressions of great piety and sweetness to the Madonna. He did a number of these in terra verde or green earth , enlivening his compositions with touches of vermilion.

Masaccio s work was to be a source of inspiration to many later painters, including both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. During the first half of the 15th century, the achieving of the effect of realistic space in a painting by the employment of linear perspective was a major preoccupation of many painters, as well as the architects Brunelleschi and Alberti who both theorised about the subject. Both saw their styles and those of Leonardo, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Antonello da Messina and Raphael adapted by later painters to form a disparate style known as Mannerism, and move steadily towards the great outpouring of imagination and painterly virtuosity of the Baroque period. The artist who most extended the trends in Titian s large figurative compositions is Tintoretto, although his personal manner was such that he only lasted nine days as Titian s apprentice.

His paintings demonstrate an understanding of anatomy, of foreshortening, of linear perspective, of light and the study of drapery. Painted by Hugo van der Goes at the behest of the Portinari family, it was shipped out from Bruges for the Chapel of Sant Egidio at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.

Increasingly, still lifes and decorative scenes from life were painted, such as the Concert by Lorenzo Costa of about 1490. Important events were often recorded or commemorated in paintings such as Uccello s Battle of San Romano, as were important local religious festivals. Above them, seated in a spectacular array of chariots drawn by lions, eagles, unicorns and other such beasts, are twelve Roman deities with their various attributes.

At that date a competition was held to find an artist to create a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistry of St. There are two sources of light in this painting, one internal to a building and the other external.

Born fully formed, by a sort of miracle, she was the new Eve, symbol of innocent love, or even, by extension, a symbol of the Virgin Mary herself. Donatello created the enormous equestrian bronze, the first since the Roman Empire, of the condotiero Gattemelata, still visible on its plinth in the square outside the Basilica of Sant Antonio.

Whereas both tempera and fresco lent themselves to the depiction of pattern, neither presented a successful way to represent natural textures realistically. Less elegant than Ghiberti s, it is more about human drama and impending tragedy. Ghiberti won the competition.

They contrast with the gentle and pretty figures painted by Masolino on the opposite side of Adam and Eve receiving the forbidden fruit. Piero della Francesca used the Classical niche as a setting for his enthroned Madonnas, as Masaccio had used it as the setting for his Holy Trinity at Santa Maria Novella.

The Florentine artist, Ghirlandaio, promptly painted his own version, with a beautiful Italian Madonna in place of the long-faced Flemish one, and himself, gesturing theatrically, as one of the shepherds. In 1477 Pope Sixtus IV replaced the derelict old chapel at the Vatican in which many of the Papal services were held. Both here and on the four heads of prophets that he painted around the inner clockface in the cathedral, he used strongly contrasting tones, suggesting that each figure was being lit by a natural light source, as if the source was an actual window in the cathedral. Piero della Francesca carried his study of light further.

Titian is also renowned for his religious painting, his last work being a turbulent and abstracted Pieta. Michelangelo and Titian both lived into the second half of the 16th century. Leonardo s Last Supper, painted in the refectory of a monastery in Milan, became the benchmark for religious narrative painting for the next half millennium.

In his works the individual qualities of numerous different painters are drawn together.