Renaissance Paintings
Best Altarpieces, Portraits, Murals of Early/High Renaissance and Mannerism.

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Ecce Homo (1470)
By Antonello da Messina.
A mixture of tempera and oil.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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For the best oils/watercolours,
see: Greatest Paintings Ever.

Greatest Renaissance Paintings (c.1400-1550)

A list of the most important pictures of the Renaissance and Mannerist periods in Europe.

Contents

Background & Influences
Italian Early Renaissance Paintings (c.1400-1490)
Italian High Renaissance Paintings (c.1490-1530)
French Renaissance Paintings (c.1400-1550)
Netherlandish Renaissance Paintings (1430-1580)
German Renaissance Paintings (c.1430-1580)
Mannerist Paintings (c.1530-1600)

Background & Influences of Renaissance Painting

Renaissance art would not have happened without the contributions of earlier art movements, their painters and sculptors. Proto-Renaissance art, for instance, was indebted to 13th century Gothic art and Gothic sculpture - the latter also being a major influence on Giotto (1267-1337) and his revolutionary Scrovegni Chapel frescoes. The later International Gothic, a style associated with the Royal Courts of various European monarchs, was also very influential, as was the conservative Italian Sienese School of Painting, led by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-1319), creator of the Stroganoff Madonna and Child and the Maesta Altarpiece. Papal patronage, as well as support from dynasties like the Medici family in Florence, was another important factor in ensuring the growth and success of Pre-Renaissance painting during the 14th century.

 

 

Early Italian Renaissance Paintings (c.1400-1490)

Early Renaissance aesthetics relied heavily on humanism - the nobility of Man - and its imagery made significant use of the individual figure, instead of stereotyped or symbolic figures. Painters demonstrated noticeably greater realism in the representation of human faces and bodies. Above all, they showed better organization of the picture space and mastered the use of linear perspective. In short, Early Renaissance painting rejected the hieratic
traditions of Byzantine art in favour of a more realistic, more humanistic idiom, albeit within the confines of Christian art of the 15th century.

The Greatest Early Renaissance Pictures

Here is our selection of the most influential paintings from 15th century Italy. Oils were gradually taking over from tempera, although the latter - along with fresco murals - was still popular. See also Famous Paintings Analyzed.

Painting Terms
See: Diptych (2-panel picture); Triptych (3-panel picture); Polyptych (multi).

Gentile da Fabriano (c.1370-1427)
Adoration of the Magi (Strozzi Altarpiece) (1423) tempera, Uffizi, Florence
Quaratsei Altarpiece (1425) tempera on wood, Various Museums

Pisanello (Antonio Pisano) (1394-1455)
Portrait of a Young Woman (1436-8) tempera on wood, Louvre, Paris

Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)
The Battle of San Romano (c.1456) National Gallery London; Uffizi; Louvre
The Hunt in the Forest (1470) oil on canvas, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Fra Angelico (c.1400-55)
The Linaiuoli Triptych (1433) tempera on panel, Museo di San Marco, Florence
Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1436) tempera on wood, Cortona
Noli Me Tangere (1441) fresco, Museo di San Marco dell' Angelico, Florence
The Annunciation (c.1450) fresco, Museo di San Marco

 

 

Tommaso Masaccio (1401-28)
Brancacci Chapel Frescoes (1424-8) Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1425-6) fresco, Brancacci Chapel
Virgin and Child (1426) egg tempera on wood, National Gallery, London
Tribute Money (1427-8) fresco, Brancacci Chapel, Florence
Holy Trinity (1428) fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-69)
Virgin and Child with Saints Augustine & Fredianus (1437) tempera, Louvre
Coronation of the Virgin (1441-5) tempera on wood, Uffizi, Florence
Annunciation with Two Kneeling Donors (1445) oil, GNd'AA, Rome
Scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist (1457) S.Stefano Cathedral

Domenico Veneziano (1410-1461)
Saint Lucy Altarpiece (c.1445-7) tempera on wood, Uffizi Gallery Florence.

Piero della Francesca (1420-92)
The Baptism of Christ (1440-50) tempera on panel, National Gallery, London
Baptism of Christ (1448-50) tempera on wood, National Gallery, London
Flagellation of Christ (1460) oil & tempera, GNdM, Urbino
Portraits of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza (1465-66) Uffizi
The Resurrection of Christ (1463) fresco, Pinacoteca Civica, Sansepolcro
The Brera Madonna (1472-4) oil on panel, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

Vincenzo Foppa (c.1428-c.1516)
Virgin and Child (Madonna With the Book) (1464-8) tempera, CS, Milan

Gentile Bellini (1429-1507)
Procession in St Marks Square (1496) tempera, Venice Academy Gallery.
St Mark Preaching in Alexandria (1505) oil on canvas, Pinacoteca Brera, Milan

Antonello da Messina (1430-1479)
Ecce Homo (1470) tempera and oil, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Portrait of a Man (1475) oil on poplar, National Gallery, London
Condottiero (1475) oil on wood, Louvre, Paris
St Sebastian (1478) oil on canvas, Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506)
Camera degli Sposi frescoes (c.1474) Palazzo Ducale, Mantua
Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.147-80) tempera, Pinacoteca di Brera

Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) Father of Venetian Painting
St Francis in Ecstasy (1480) oil/tempera on poplar, Frick Collection
St Job Altarpiece (1480) oil/tempera on panel, Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice
Frari Altarpiece (1488) oil on wood, S.Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice
Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan (1501) National Gallery, London)
St Zaccharia Altarpiece (1505) oil on panel, San Zaccaria, Venice

Alessandro Botticelli (1445-1510)
Portrait of a Man (1474-5) tempera, Uffizi, Florence
La Primavera (Spring) (1478) tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence
Revolt Against the Law of Moses (1481-2) fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican
Birth of Venus (1482-6) tempera on canvas, Uffizi, Florence
St Augustine in the Cell (1490-4) tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence
See also: Renaissance Art in Florence.

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-94)
Old Man with a Young Boy (1490) oil on panel, Louvre, Paris
Adoration of the Shepherds (1485) oil on panel, Church of St Trinity, Florence

Pietro Perugino (1450-1523)
Christ Giving the Keys to St Peter (1481-2) fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican
Pieta (1494-5) tempera, Uffizi, Florence

 

Italian High Renaissance Paintings (c.1490-1530)

The High Renaissance marked the zenith of Renaissance aesthetics - and the summit of their execution. Painters perfected their portrayal of the real world as they mastered illusionistic devices like linear perspective and foreshortening, and developed new techniques like chiaroscuro and sfumato shading. However, realism was mixed with classical beauty, as defined by Greek ideas of the perfectly proportioned human body and pose. (See in particular the work of Michelangelo and Raphael.) At the same time, oil painting was by far the dominant medium, and its rich tonal spectrum enabled artists to represent distance solely through the gradation of tones - a painterly technique known as atmospheric perspective.

The Greatest High Renaissance Pictures

This is our selection of the top examples of Italian High Renaissance painting. They represent the cream of the "colorito" art of the period. For a list of supreme examples of drawing - what 15th century artists called "disegno" - please see: Best Drawings of the Renaissance. As a whole, High Renaissance art became an important element in the development and teaching of fine arts across the Continent.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Virgin of the Rocks (1483) oil on wood, Louvre, Paris
Lady with an Ermine (c.1490) oil on wood, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow
Last Supper (1495-98) fresco, Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Mona Lisa (1503) oil on wood, Louvre, Paris
Virgin and Child with St Anne (1506-13) oil on wood, Louvre, Paris

Filippino Lippi (1457-1504)
Virgin and Child with Saints (Madonna of the Otto) (1485) tempera, Uffizi
The Adoration of the Magi (1496) tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence
Fresco Cycle/ Strozzi Chapel (1487-1502) Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Fresco Cycle/ Caraffa Chapel (1489-1492) Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

Piero di Cosimo (1461-1521)
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci (1482) tempera, Musee Conde, Chantilly

Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Holy Family (Tondo Doni) (1504-6) tempera on wood, Uffizi, Florence
Genesis fresco (1508-12) - including the Creation of Adam - and Last Judgment fresco (1535-41) which comprise his celebrated cycles in the Sistine Chapel frescoes

Giorgione (1477-1510)
The Tempest (c.1508) oil on canvas, Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice
Portrait of an Old Woman (c.1508) oil on canvas, Gd'A, Venice
Reclining Venus (1518) oil on canvas, GAM, Dresden
See also: Renaissance Art in Venice.

Titian (c.1477-1576)
Portrait of a Man (1512) oil on canvas, National Gallery, London
Assumption of the Virgin (1516-8) oil, S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice
Bacchus and Ariadne (1522) oil on canvas, National Gallery, London
Venus of Urbino (1538) oil on canvas, Uffizi, Florence
Pope Paul III with his Grandsons (1546) Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte
Venus and Adonis (1553) oil on canvas, Prado Museum, Madrid
The Rape of Europa (1559-62) oil, Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston
See also: Venetian Portrait Painting (c.1400-1600).

Raphael (1483-1520)
School of Athens (1510-11) fresco, Raphael Rooms Vatican
The Sistine Madonna (1513) oil on canvas, Gemaldegallerie, Dresden
Madonna of the Chair (1514) oil on wood, Galleria Palatina, Florence
Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1514-15) oil on canvas, Louvre, Paris
The Transfiguration (1518-20) oil on panel, Vatican Museum, Rome
Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals (1518) oil on wood, Pitti Palace, Florence
See also: Renaissance Art in Rome.

Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530)
Madonna of the Harpies (1517) oil on wood, Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The Last Supper (1527) fresco, Museo del Cenacolo, Florence

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (1489-1534)
Vision of St John the Evangelist (1522) fresco, S.Giovanni Evangelista, Parma
Assumption of the Virgin (1524-30) fresco, Duomo ceiling, Parma
Adoration of the Shepherds (1528) Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden
Jupiter and Io (1531-2) oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

French Renaissance Paintings (c.1400-1550)

Painting in France was more strongly attached to the courtly traditions of the International Gothic idiom. Fouquet was exceptional, being influenced by Masaccio as well as Flemish painters and the Limburg brothers. He was particularly influential in introducing the progressive ideas of the Italian Renaissance into France.

Limbourg Brothers - Paul, Jan, Herman (c.1387-1416)
The Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1416) Musee Conde Chantilly.

Jean Fouquet (1420-81)
Melun Diptych (1455) oil on panel, Koninklijk Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
Portrait of Charles VII of France (1445-50) oil on panel, Louvre, Paris

Netherlandish Renaissance Paintings (1430-1580)

Holland and Flanders enjoyed a damp climate which was quite unsuited to fresco painting - one reason why oils became so popular. Indeed, this area of the Northern Renaissance was famous for the microscopic precision of its paintings, notably in the area of portraiture (see Jan van Eyck), although background detail was another specialty, as exemplified by the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The Greatest Paintings of the Dutch & Flemish Renaissance

Here are some of the most influential paintings from the Netherlandish Renaissance during the 15th and 16th centuries. Northern compositions tended to include more secular subjects than those in Italy, although altarpiece art remained a popular medium. Oil on panel was the dominant method of painting: canvas being relatively rare until the end of the period. For more details, see: Flemish Painting (1400-1800) and Flemish Painters (1400-1750).

Robert Campin: Master of Flemalle (1378-1444)
Seilern (Entombment) Triptych (1410) Courtauld Institute, London.
Merode Altarpiece (c.1427) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Annunciation (1430-40) oil on panel, Prado Museum, Madrid
The Werl Altarpiece Diptych (1438) oil on panel, Prado Museum, Spain
Portrait of Robert de Masmines (undated) oil, Gemaldegalerie SM, Berlin

Jan van Eyck (1390-1441)
Ghent Altarpiece (1432) oil on wood, Saint Bavo Catherdal, Belgium
Man in a Red Turban (1433) oil on panel, National Gallery, London
Arnolfini Portrait (1434) oil on wood, National Gallery
The Rolin Madonna (1435) oil on wood, Louvre, Paris

Roger van der Weyden (1400-1464)
Descent From the Cross (Deposition) (1435-40) oil, Prado Museum, Madrid
Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (1445) Koninklijk Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
The Lamentation Before the Tomb (1450) oil on panel, Uffizi Gallery

Dierec Bouts (1415-75)
Last Supper (1464-7) oil on wood, Church of Saint Peter, Leuven, Belgium
Martyrdom of St Erasmus (1468) oil on panel, Sint-Pieterskirk, Louvain

Hans Memling (c.1433-94)
Passion of Christ (1470) oil on wood, Galleria Sabauda, Torino
Portrait of an Old Woman (1470) oil on panel, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Last Judgment Triptych (1471) oil on panel, Narodowe Museum, Gdansk
The Donne Triptych (1480) oil on oak, National Gallery, London
Portrait of a Man (1490) oil on wood, Uffizi, Florence

Hugo Van Der Goes (1440–1482)
Portinari Altarpiece Triptych (1475) oil on wood, Uffizi, Florence

Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)
Garden of Earthly Delights (1504) oil on wood, Prado Museum, Madrid
The Last Judgement (1505-10) oil on wood, Bildendenkunste, Vienna
Temptation of St Anthony (1510) oil on wood, Prado Museum, Madrid
Ecce Homo (1515-6) oil on panel, Fine Art Museum, Ghent

Joachim Patinir (Patenier) (1485-1524)
Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1515) Koninklijk Museum, Antwerp; & Prado
Journey Into the Underworld (1522) oil on panel, Prado, Madrid

Jan Van Scorel (1495-1562)
The Flood (1530) oil on panel, Prado Museum, Madrid

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569)
The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562) oil, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels
Mad Meg (Dulle Griet) (1562) panel, Musee Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp
Tower of Babel (1563) oil on wood, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Hunters in the Snow (1565) oil on panel, K.M., Vienna
Massacre of the Innocents (c.1565-7) oil on oak, K.M., Vienna
The Census of Bethlehem (1566) tempera, Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels
Peasant Wedding (1568) oil on oak, K.M., Vienna
Parable of the Blind (1568) tempera, MN di C, Naples
Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) oil on oak, Staatliche Museen, Berlin

German Renaissance Paintings (c.1430-1580)

If 15th century Italian art was based on Humanism and the idealized style of Ancient Greece, and Netherlandish art on a mastery of oils, the painting of the German Renaissance - somewhat isolated behind the Rhine and the Alps - was influenced by the emotional character of its history and culture. An emotionalism which produced masterpieces of Late Gothic sculpture and wood carving, as well as pictorial wonders like the Isenheim Alterpiece by Matthias Grunewald. The romantic atmospheric landscapes of the Danube School were another illustration of this brooding sensibility. At the same time, the German passion for order and materialism is evident in the wonderful portraiture of Cranach, Holbein, and Durer.

The Greatest German Renaissance Pictures

Here is our selection of the most important paintings from Germany during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Stephan Lochner (1400-51)
The Last Judgement (c.1440) oil on wood, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

Michael Pacher (1434-98)
Wolfgang Altarpiece
(1471-81) Salzkammergut.
Altarpiece of the Church Fathers (1484) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Martin Schongauer (1440-91)
The Holy Family (1470) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Self-Portrait in a Fur Coat (1500) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Adam and Eve (1507) oil on wood, Prado Museum, Madrid
Four Apostles (Diptych) (1526) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)
Adam and Eve (1528) oil on panel, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Luther and Wife (Diptych) (1529) oil on wood, Uffizi, Florence

Matthias Grunewald (1475-1528)
Isenheim Altarpiece (1512-15) oil on panel, Musee d'Unterlinden, Colmar

Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538)
Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Hans Baldung Grien (1484-1545)
Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece (1512-16) oil, Frieburg im Breisgau.
Death and the Maiden (1520) oil on panel, Kunstmuseum, Basel
The Three Ages of Man with Death (c.1540) oil on panel, Prado, Madrid

Hans Holbein The Younger (1497-1543)
Lady with the Squirrel and Starling (1526-8) oil, National Gallery, London
The Merchant Georg Gisze (1532) oil on panel, Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin
The Ambassadors (1533) oil on oak, National Gallery, London
Portrait of Henry VIII (1540) oil on wood, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte, Rome

Mannerist Paintings (c.1530-1600)

Mannerism was the link between the idealized style of Renaissance art and the religious theatricality of the Baroque. In its determination to escape the strait-jacket of Classical aesthetics, Mannerist painting was noticeably more artificial and less naturalistic. Pictures were typically associated with elongated human forms, strained poses, unnatural proportions, offbeat lighting or perspective, and garish colours.

The Greatest Mannerist Pictures

Here is our choice of the most influential Mannerist paintings from the 16th century.

Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1556)
Cosimo de'Medici Il Vecchio (1518-19) oil on panel, Uffizi, Florence
Deposition (1528) oil on wood, Santa Felicita, Florence
Visitation (1529) oil on wood, San Michele, Carmignano

Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) (1518-1594)
Adam and Eve (1550) oil on canvas, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice
The Crucifixion (1565) oil on canvas, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice
Nativity (1579-81) oil on canvas, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice
Paradise (c.1590) oil on canvas, Palazzo Ducale, Venice
The Last Supper (1592-4) oil on canvas, St Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Parmigianino (1503-40)
Madonna with the Long Neck (1535) oil on panel, Uffizi, Florence

Agnolo Bronzino (1503-72)
Lamentation (1530) oil on panel, Uffizi, Florence
Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi (1540) oil on panel, Uffizi, Florence

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)
The Wedding of Esther and Ahasuerus (1548) oil, State Museum, Arezzo

Jacopo Bassano (1515-1592)
The Last Supper (1547) oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome
The Beheading of John the Baptist (c.1550) oil on canvas, State Art Museum, Copenhagen Landscape with Parable of the Sower (1570) oil on canvas, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93)
Summer (1573) oil on wood, Musee Louvre, Paris
Emperor Rudolf II as Vertumnus (1591) oil/wood, Skoklosters Slott, Sweden

Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (1528-88)
Wedding Feast at Cana (1563) oil on canvas, Louvre, Paris
Calvary (1570-80) oil on canvas, Louvre, Paris
Feast in the House of Levi (1573) oil on canvas, Academy Gallery, Venice

El Greco (Domenikos Theotocopoulos) (1541-1614)
Trinity (1577-9) oil on canvas, Prado Museum, Madrid
Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586-88) oil on canvas, Santo Tome, Toledo
The Disrobing of Christ (1577-79) oil on canvas, Toledo Cathedral
The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse (1608) Met Museum, NY
The Adoration of the Shepherds (1613) oil on canvas, Prado Museum

Spranger Bartholomaeus (1546-1611)
Hermaphrodite with the Nymph Salmacide (1582) oil/canvas, KM, Vienna
Minerva Victorious Over Ignorance (1591) oil on canvas, KM, Vienna

Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610)
Flight into Egypt (1609) oil on wood, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
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