Old Masters
Greatest European Painters: Biographies, Paintings.

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The Assumption of the Virgin,
Ceiling Fresco (1526-30) in the
Cathedral of Parma, Italy.
A wonderful work of Christian art
from the High Renaissance,
by Correggio.

European "Old Master" Artists (c.1200-1830)
For Major Painters between 1700 and 1900, see: Famous Painters
For Painters after 1900, see: 20th Century Painters
For a complete index, see: A-Z of Artists

Contents

Definition
LIST OF OLD MASTERS
Gothic and Proto-Renaissance
Early Renaissance
High Renaissance
Venetian Renaissance (Venice)
Northern Renaissance (Flanders, Netherlands, Germany)
Mannerism
Baroque
Dutch Realism School
Rococo
Neoclassicism
Romanticism



Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione
(1514-15) Louvre. By Raphael.

WORLDS TOP ARTISTS
For the greatest view painters, see:
Best Landcape Artists.
For the greatest still life art, see:
Best Still Life Painters.
For the greatest portraitists
see: Best Portrait Artists.
For the greatest genre-painting, see:
Best Genre Painters.
For the top allegorical painting,
see: Best History Painters.

Definition

In fine art, the term 'Old Master' traditionally refers to great European painters practising during the period roughly 1300-1830. (Jump to List of Old Masters.)

This era begins with the Proto-Renaissance, exemplified by the Florentine artist Giotto di Bondone (1270-1337) and thereafter encompasses art styles and movements of the 15th-century, such as the Early Renaissance (Piero della Francesca, Leonardo), the Northern Renaissance of Flanders, Holland, Germany and England (Jan Van Eyck), the 16th-century which included the High Renaissance (Michelangelo), the Venetian Renaissance (Tintoretto) and Mannerism (El Greco), the 17th-century featuring the Baroque style (Peter Paul Rubens) and the Dutch Realism School (Jan Vermeer), and finally the 18th-century which saw Rococo (Francois Boucher), Neoclassicism (Jacques Louis David) and Romanticism (Goya).

How good a painter must be to qualify as an Old Master, is not clear. In practice, all of the well-known artists from the above period fall into the category. While eschewed by most art historians for its vagueness, the term is regularly employed by galleries and art auctions to brand and separate the great European artists of yesteryear from the famous painters of the modern era.

Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
Detail from Hieronymus Bosch's
Garden of Earthly Delights (1500-5)
Prado Museum, Madrid.

GREATEST ARTISTS
For a list of the Top 10 and Top 20
of the greatest painters & sculptors:
Best Artists of All Time: Top 10.

Paintings by Old Masters hang in most of the best art museums, like the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Pinakothek Museum in Munich, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Tate Gallery in London, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican Museum in Rome, as well as top public galleries in America, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

List of Old Masters

The category of old master is exemplified by (but by no means limited to) the following painters:

GOTHIC - ICONS - INTERNATIONAL GOTHIC - PROTO-RENAISSANCE
Cimabue (Cenni di Peppi) (1240-1302)
Noted for his cycle of frescos in the Church of S. Francesco in Assisi.
Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-1319)
Greatest Sienese painter, noted for Maesta altarpiece for Siena Cathedral
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)
First great pre-Renaissance fresco painter (Scrovegni Arena Chapel Padua).
Simone Martini (1285-1344)
Gothic painter, Siena School of painting; pupil, Giotto/Duccio di Buoninsegna.
Jean Pucelle (c.1290-1334)
French manuscript illuminator, miniaturist painter, noted for religious books.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Active 1319-48)
Italian Gothic artist, member of Sienese School of painting.
Pietro Lorenzetti (active 1320-45)
Siena School of painting, influenced by Giotto & Florentine proto-renaissance.
Theophanes the Greek (c.1340-1410)
Constantinople iconographer, founder of Novgorod school of icon painting.
Melchior Broederlam (c.1350-1411)
Pioneer International Gothic panel painter of Flemish School.
Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414)
Famous Flemish illuminator and miniaturist.
Andrei Rublev (c.1360-1430)
Russia's most famous medieval icon panel painter; pupil of Theophanes.
Lorenzo Monaco (Laurence the Monk) (1370-1425)
Siena-born International Gothic style painter, active in Florence.
Masolino (1383-1440)
Goldsmith-trained painter, assisted Masaccio with Brancacci chapel frescoes.
Limbourg Brothers (fl.1390-1416)
Book painters, manuscript illuminators.
Pisanello (Antonio Pisano) (c.1394-1455)
International Gothic style Italian painter, medallist, portrait artist.
Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni) (c.1395-1450)
International Gothic painter of Sienese School, noted for tempera altarpieces.
Enguerrand de Charenton (Quarton) (c.1410-1466)
Illuminator and painter, famous for The Avignon Pieta.
Jean Fouquet (1420-81)
Best French painter of 15th century. Brought Renaissance art to France.
Dionysius (c.1440-1502)
Russian icon painter noted for icons at Joseph Volokolamsky monastery.

EARLY RENAISSANCE
Gentile da Fabriano (c.1370-1427)
Influential International Gothic style painter famous for Adoration of the Magi.
Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)
One of the greatest architects of the Early Renaissance in Florence; designed the Dome of Florence Cathedral.
Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455)
Florentine sculptor, International Gothic and classical style; Gates of Paradise.
Donatello (1386-1466)
The greatest sculptor of the Early Renaissance.
Francesco Squarcione (1395-1468)
Best-known as Andrea Mantegna's teacher; expert in foreshortening.
Paolo Uccello (1397-1475)
Noted for Battle of San Romano, schematic use of perspective/foreshortening.
Fra Angelico (c.1400-55)
Religious painter, noted for frescos in San Marco convent.
Tommaso Masaccio (1401-1428)
Father of early Renaissance painting. Greatest of early Florentine painters.
Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72)
Genovese architect, art-theorist; De Sculptura, Della Pittura, De Aedificatoria.
Fra Filippo Lippi (c.1406-69)
Florentine Medici Family artist, influenced by Masaccio, taught Botticelli.
Domenico Veneziano (1410-1461)
Venice-born fresco/oil painter, noted for St Lucy Altarpiece tempera panels.
Andrea del Castagno (c.1420-57)
Influential Florentine Renaissance painter, noted for his Last Supper.
Piero della Francesca (1420-92)
Italian Renaissance painter, pioneered the rules of linear perspective.
Antonello da Messina (1430-1479)
Portrait artist from Sicily; an early pioneer of oil painting.
Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506)
Renaissance master, pictures noted for mastery of perspective and detail.
Donato Bramante (c.1444-1514)
Foremost architect of High Renaissance, patronized by Pope Julius II.
Alessandro Botticelli (1445-1510)
Florentine Renaissance master, creator of La Primavera.
Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-94)
Most popular, prolific fresco painter in Florence during 1480s.
Perugino (1450-1523)
Known for Sistine Chapel fresco murals and influence on young Raphael.
Piero di Cosimo (1462-1522)
Early Renaissance oil painter best known for imaginative mythological pictures.

 

HIGH RENAISSANCE
Luca Signorelli (1450-1523)
Master of fresco painting, figure drawing; influenced Michelangelo's frescoes.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Greatest Renaissance oil painter/draftsman (The Last Supper, Mona Lisa).
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
Greatest Renaissance sculptor (Pieta, David) and painter, renowned for his Genesis and Last Judgement Sistine Chapel frescoes in Rome.
Raphael (Raffaello Santi) (1483-1520)
Greatest exemplar of High Renaissance painting, noted for his Papal frescoes.
Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547)
Best known for portraits. A rival of Raphael, he was helped by Michelangelo.
Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530)
Known for his grisaille work, his fresco murals and his famous altarpiece: Madonna of the Harpies. Leader of High Renaissance in Florence after 1510.
Correggio (1489-1534)
Parma painter, noted for illusionistic frescoes and altarpiece oils.

VENETIAN RENAISSANCE (VENICE)
Gentile Bellini (c.1429-1507)
Noted for historical scenes of Venice and portraits of Doges.
Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516)
Father of Venetian painting; pioneer of luminous oil painting.
Vittore Carpaccio (c.1465-1525/6)
Venetian artist, influenced by Gentile Bellini, noted for Legend of St Ursula.
Giorgione (1477-1510)
Pioneer of the Venetian School of painting.
Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556)
High Renaissance artist, noted for his portraiture and religious panel painting.
Titian (c.1485/8-1576)
Greatest Renaissance exponent of colour painting in oils and fresco.
Andrea Palladio (1508-80)
Greatest Venetian architect of the Renaissance.
Jacopo Bassano (1515-1592)
Mannerist painter noted for his portraiture and Biblical genre-painting.
Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594)
Major Venetian painter of monumental religious works.
Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)
One of Venice's leading colourists, noted for The Wedding at Cana.

NORTHERN RENAISSANCE (FLANDERS, NETHERLANDS, GERMANY)
Robert Campin (Master of Flemalle) (c.1378-1444)
Flemish artist, famous for Merode Altarpiece.
Jan van Eyck (1390-1441)
Flemish painter, noted for Ghent Altarpiece - a masterpiece of Christian art.
Stefan Lochner (c.1400-51)
German painter of the Cologne School noted for the Three Kings Altarpiece
Roger Van der Weyden (1400-1464)
Flemish artist and leading religious panel-painter of Northern Renaissance.
Dieric (Dirk) Bouts (c.1410/20-75)
First Flemish painter to use single vanishing point; noted for religious art.
Hans Memling (c.1433-94)
Flemish portrait artist, religious altarpiece painter, of the Bruges School.
Michael Pacher (1435-98)
Austrian religious artist, noted for the Altarpiece of the Church Fathers.
Hugo Van Der Goes (1440–1482)
Oil painter from Netherlands, noted for religious art like Portinari Altarpiece.
Martin Schongauer (1448-91)
Graphic artist, printmaker and painter from Colmar.
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)
Greatest of all medieval painters, noted for complex moralizing works.
Quentin Massys (c.1465-1530)
Flemish genre painter of the Antwerp School, noted for secular-style portraits.
Matthias Grunewald (1470-1528)
Noted for his intense expressionist religious paintings; Isenheim Altarpiece.
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Greatest painter and printmaker of the Northern Renaissance.
Lucas Cranach the Elder
(1472-1553)
Leading Renaissance painter in Germany, noted for his court portraiture.
Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538)
Noted for Romantic Danube School of landscape, and Battle of Issus.
Hans Baldung Grien (1484-1545)
German Renaissance artist, engraver; painted high altar in Freiburg Cathedral.
Joachim Patenier (1485-1524)
Pioneer landscape painter of the Netherlandish Renaissance.
Hans Holbein The Younger (1497-1543)
Celebrated as one of the greatest portrait painters.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569)
Leading Flemish artist of his day, master landscape painter.
Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619)
English miniaturist, noted for his oval-style miniature portrait paintings.

MANNERISM
Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540)
Florentine artist; with Primaticcio, led Fontainebleau School of Mannerism.
Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1556)
Florentine fresco/oil painter; Deposition Altarpiece, San Lorenzo frescoes.
Giulio Romano (1499-1546)
Raphael's top assistant, noted for his illusionist frescoes in Mantua and Rome.
Parmigianino (1503-40)
Mannerist painter, etcher, from Parma, known for Madonna with a Long Neck.
Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572)
Mannerist portrait painter influenced by Pontormo, also noted for tapestry art.
Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)
Painter, architect, art historian known for Lives of The Artists (1550).
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-93)
Best-known for his bizarre Mannerist fruit & vegetable portraits.
Giambologna (1529-1608)
The hugely influential Mannerist sculptor: worked in Rome and Florence.
El Greco (Domenikos Theotocopoulos) (1541-1614)
Noted for his dazzling spiritual works and portraits.

BAROQUE
Annibale Carracci (1560-1609)
Bolognese Baroque artist noted for Farnese Gallery frescos in Rome.
Francisco Ribalta (1565–1628)
Catalan religious painter, pioneer of tenebrism and naturalistic chiaroscuro.
Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Milanese painter noted for his figurative realism & tenebrism.
Guido Reni (1575-1642)
Classical Baroque painter, influenced by Caravaggio, Raphael and the Antique.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Foremost Baroque history painter and portraitist.
Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610)
Influential German landscape artist & history painter. Influenced Rubens.
Battistello Caracciolo (1578-1635)
Neapolitan painter, pupil and first close follower of Caravaggio.
Domenichino (1581-1641)
Bolognese School painter noted for frescoes, altarpieces, landscape paintings.
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)
Correggio-inspired High Baroque fresco painter, member of Neapolitan School.
Simon Vouet (1590-1649)
Leader of French artists in Rome; later official court painter to Louis XIII.
Jusepe (Jose) de Ribera (1591-1652)
Naples-based Spanish realist religious painter.
Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (1591-1666)
Italian painter, draughtsman, leader of Bolognese School of Baroque painting.
Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)
French caravaggesque painter, noted for religious & genre paintings.
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656)
Daughter of Orazio G; first female member of the Florence Academy of Art.
Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)
Flemish Baroque painter, noted for genre paintings, portraits, tapestry design.
Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
Possibly the greatest classical academic painter of all time.
Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669)
Greatest fresco painter of the Italian High Baroque.
Giovanni Bernini (1598-1680)
The dominant sculptor and architect of the Counter-Reformation Baroque.
Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664)
Master of chiaroscuro, noted for his religious pictures and still-lifes.
Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)
Infant prodigy, pupil of Rubens, noted for his portraits.
Diego Velazquez (1599-1660)
Court painter, possibly the greatest old master of the Spanish school.
Claude Lorrain (1600-82)
Classical landscape artist, initiator of Claudean style.
Le Nain Brothers (Antoine, Louis, Mathieu) (c.1600-77)
French Realist genre painters, portraitists; noted for peasant scenes.
Castiglione (Il Grechetto) (1609-64)
Genoa painter & etcher, founder of monotype, noted for Biblical animal scenes.
Mattia Preti (Il Cavaliere Calabrese) (1613-99)
Influential fresco painter; active with Giordano in Neapolitan Baroque painting.
Salvator Rosa (1615-73)
Famous for his wild romantic landscapes and battle scenes.
Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)
Successful Spanish Baroque artist, religious painter, genre-scenes.
Charles Le Brun (1619-90)
French painter, authoritarian Director of French Academy/Gobelins tapestries.
Luca Giordano (1634-1705)
Leading decorative painter of the late 17th century Neapolitan Baroque.
Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709)
High Baroque specialist in quadratura trompe l'oeil illusionistic murals.
Francesco Solimena (1657-1747)
The greatest late Baroque decorative fresco painter in Naples c.1690-1730.
Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743)
French portrait artist noted for paintings of Louis XIV and the royal family.

DUTCH REALISM SCHOOL
Frans Snyders (1579-1657)
Undisputed master of Baroque still life: Antwerp school.
Frans Hals (1582-1666)
One of the greatest portraitists in post-Renaissance art.
Hendrik Terbrugghen (1588-1629)
Dutch Realist genre-painter, Utrecht school.
Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656)
Italian inspired Caravaggist, member of Utrecht school.
Adriaen Brouwer (1605-38)
Noted for his tavern genre-pictures.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
World's greatest portrait artist, noted for chiaroscuro technique.
Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-83)
Still life artist, Utrecht/Antwerp School of Dutch Realism.
Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85)
Peasant scene artist, Haarlem school.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-90)
Dutch Realist, peasant, guardroom scenes.
Harmen van Steenwyck (1612-56)
Leading advocate of vanitas still life painting.
Gerard Terborch (1617-81)
Haarlem school genre painter.
Willem Kalf (1619-93)
Noted for still life pictures, especially pronkstilleven and vanitas paintings.
Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91)
Dordrecht school landscape artist.
Jan Steen (1626-79)
Leiden school, tavern genre scenes, 17th century Holland.
Samuel Van Hoogstraten (1627-78)
Genre painter; interiors with deep linear perspective, peep-show pictures.
Jacob Van Ruisdael (1628-82)
Haarlem school landscapes, noted for The Jewish Cemetery.
Gabriel Metsu (1629-67)
Intimate small-scale genre scenes.
Pieter de Hooch (1629-83)
Delft school of Dutch genre-painting.
Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
Delft school Dutch genre-painter, unrecognized in his life time.
Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709)
Pupil of Jacob van Ruisdael. One of the last Dutch Realist landscape artists.
Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)
Greatest ever female flower painter, from Amsterdam.

ROCOCO
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
Noted for The Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera and his "fetes galants".
Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770)
Known for his Wurzburg Palace frescos (eg.) Apollo Bringing the Bride.
Canaletto (1697-1768)
Famous topographical/architectural landscape painter
Jean Chardin (1699-1779)
One of the greatest 18th century still life artists.
Francois Boucher (1703-1770)
Created "mythologie galante", Odalisque portraits, porcelain/tapestry designs.
Francesco Guardi (1712–1793)
View painter (veduta) of Venice school: Impressionistic style.
Bernardo Bellotto (1720–1780)
Canaletto's nephew, noted for urban landscapes of Venice, Dresden, Warsaw.
Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806)
Best-known for The Swing and his "figure de fantaisie" portraits.
Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807)
Rococo portraitist, Neoclassical history painter, active in Rome and London.
Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun (1755-1842)
Rococo court painter to Queen Marie-Antoinette and European aristocracy.

NEOCLASSICISM
Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79)
German portraitist, court painter, friend of Johann Winckelmann.
Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
Passionate, classical-style, political master painter.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
Neoclassicist exponent of "academic art."

ROMANTICISM
Francisco Goya (1746-1828)
Spanish court painter, one of the great portraitists (The Nude Maja).
William Blake (1757-1827)
Symbolist religious painter, printmaker and book illustrator.
Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835)
French Romantic painter, pupil of J-L David; influenced Gericault, Delacroix.

Note: the term 'Old Master' should not be confused with the category of noted but anonymous painters from the same period, who are labelled "Master of (a location, or work of art)". Examples include: Master of the Housebook, an unidentified Dutch painter named after drawings in the Hausbuch in Schloss Wolfegg; Master of St Cecilia, an unnamed Italian painter who painted the St Cecilia altarpiece; Master of the Lyversberg Passion, a German painter responsible for a Passion series now in Cologne.

 

• For a list of the top painters/sculptors, see: Visual Artists: Greatest.
• For more European painters of the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th centuries, see: Homepage.


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