Top Ten High Renaissance Painters

Top Ten High Renaissance Painters

       The High Renaissance is the period denoting the apogee of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance. The period is traditionally taken to begin in the 1490’s, with Leonardo’s fresco of the Last Supper in Milan and the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, and to have ended in 1527 with the sacking of Rome by the troops of Charles V. This term was first used in German (Hochrenaissance) in the early 19th century, and has its origins in the “High Style” of painting and sculpture described by Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Over the last 20 years, use of the term has been frequently criticized by academic art historians for oversimplifying artistic developments, ignoring historical context, and focusing only on a few iconic works.

  1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, often being described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination.” He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote.” Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time. Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio, later working in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivaled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo. Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity, conceptualizing a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, and the double hull, and he outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, Top Ten Drawings by Leonardo da VinciTop 100 People, Top 100 Artistshttp://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/Leonardo_da_Vinci/,
  2. Michelangelo (1475-1564)

           Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification. In a demonstration of Michelangelo’s unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Michelangelo, http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/Michelangelo/,
  3. Raphael (1483-1520)

    Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (April 6 or March 28, 1483 – April 6, 1520), better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at 37, a large body of his work remains. Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. After his early years in Rome much of his work was self-designed, but for the most part executed by the workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking. After his death, the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael’s more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models. His career falls naturally into three phases and three styles, first described by Giorgio Vasari: his early years in Umbria, then a period of about four years (from 1504–1508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his last hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, working for two Popes and their close associates.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Raphael, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael,
  4. Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)

    Paolo Veronese (c. 1528 – April 19, 1588) was an important Italian Renaissance painter. His birth name was Paolo Cagliari or Paolo Caliari; he became known as “Veronese” from his birthplace in Verona. He spent most of his career in Venice. Veronese studied the local art in Verona in his youth, then moved briefly to Mantuain 1548 (where he created frescoes in that city’s Duomo) before settling in Venice. Most of his works are in a dramatic and colorful Mannerist Venetian style.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Paolo Veronese, http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/Paolo_Veronese/,
  5. Titian (1477-1576)

    Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576) known in English as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno (in Veneto), in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth. Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” (recalling the famous final line of Dante’s Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. During the course of his long life, Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Titian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titian,
  6. Tintoretto (1518-1594)

    Tintoretto (September 29, 1518 – May 31, 1594), real name Jacopo Comin, was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School. In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a rather robust way against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–1516). His real name “Comin” has only recently been discovered by Miguel Falomir, the curator of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and was made public on the occasion of the retrospective of Tintoretto at the Prado in 2007. Comin translates to the spice cumin in the local language.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Tintoretto, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintoretto,
  7. Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516)

    Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430 – 26 November 1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini, and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and coloristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.
    Links: Top Ten Paintings by Giovanni Bellini, http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/Giovanni_Bellini/,
  8. Links: Paintings, Top 100 Paintings, Top 100 Italian Paintings, Top Ten Italian Painters, Top 100 People, Top 100 Artistshttp://www.artinthepicture.com/styles/High-Renaissance/, 

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