Renaissance art is the painting, sculpture and decorative arts of that period of European
history known as the Renaissance, emerging as a distinct style in Italy in about 1400, in
parallel with developments which occurred in philosophy, literature, music and science.
Renaissance art, perceived as a "rebirth" of ancient traditions, took as its foundation the
art of Classical antiquity, but transformed that tradition by the absorption of recent
developments in the art of Northern Europe and by application of contemporary
scientific knowledge. Renaissance art, with Renaissance Humanist philosophy, spread
throughout Europe, affecting both artists and their patrons with the development of new
techniques and new artistic sensibilities. Renaissance art marks the transition of Europe
from the medieval period to the Early modern age.
In many parts of Europe, Early Renaissance art was created in parallel with Late Medieval
art. By 1500 the Renaissance style prevailed. As Late Renaissance art (Mannerism)
developed, it took on different and distinctive characteristics in every region.
The influences upon the development of Renaissance art in the early 15th century are those that also
affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of
society. The following list presents a summary, dealt with more fully in the main articles that are cited
Classical texts, lost to European scholars for centuries, became available. These included Philosophy,
Prose, Poetry, Drama, Science, a thesis on the Arts and Early Christian Theology.
Simultaneously, Europe gained access to advanced mathematics which had its provenance in the
works of Islamic scholars.
The advent of movable type printing in the 15th century meant that ideas could be disseminated
easily, and an increasing number of books were written for a broad public.
The establishment of the Medici Bank and the subsequent trade it generated brought unprecedented
wealth to a single Italian city, Florence.
Cosimo de' Medici set a new standard for patronage of the arts, not associated with the church or
Humanist philosophy meant that man's relationship with humanity, the universe and with God was
no longer the exclusive province of the Church.
A revived interest in the Classics brought about the first archaeological study of Roman remains by
the architect Brunelleschi and sculptor Donatello. The revival of a style of architecture based on
classical precedents inspired a corresponding classicism in painting and sculpture, which manifested
itself as early as the 1420s in the paintings of Masaccio and Uccello.
The improvement of oil paint and developments in oil-painting technique by Netherlandish artists
such as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes led to its adoption in Italy from
about 1475 and had ultimately lasting effects on painting practices, worldwide.
The serendipitous presence within the region of Florence in the early 15th century of certain
individuals of artistic genius, most notably Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Piero della Francesca,
Donatello and Michelozzo formed an ethos out of which sprang the great masters of the High
Renaissance, as well as supporting and encouraging many lesser artists to achieve work of
A similar heritage of artistic achievement occurred in Venice through the talented Bellini family, their
influential inlaw Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto.
Donatello 1386-1466 the greatest sculptor of the 15th
century. He was interested in the ideas of humanism
Leonardo da Vinci
1452-1519 man of many accomplishments. Painter of
'Mona Lisa', and of the 'Last Supper'. He was also a
sculptor, an architect, and a man of science who did
serious investigations into the natural and physical
sciences, mathematics, mechanics, and engineering.
Michelangelo 1475-1564 sculptor, painter,
architect. Michelangelo was the greatest artist of his time.
Between 1508 and 1512 Michelangelo painted the vaulted
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Raphael [Raffaello Sanzio] 1483-1520 master painter and
architect of the Italian High Renaissance. He is most
famous for painting angels and Madonnas, in which he
painted over 300 in his lifetime. Raphael also painted
portraits including one of Pope Julius II.
Angelico, Fra 1400-1445 painter who combined Gothic
tradition with the Italian Renaissance. His works are
praised for their religious qualities and artistic excellence.
In 1421 he entered the Dominican monastery at Fiesole. He
spent most of his life in Florence at the monastery of San
Botticelli, Sandro 1445-1510 was a ward of the Medici
family. He painted portraits of the family and many
religious pictures. From 1481-82 he painted wall
frescoes in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. Most of
his paintings were religious in nature.