The Renaissance period began directly following the Middles Ages in Europe, from the 1300’s to the 1600’s. The definition of Renaissance – rebirth - indicates it was a time when ancient traditions (from the classical era) were once again embraced in the areas of philosophy, literature, music, art, and science.
The Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone is known as the innovator of the Renaissance style. His style was clear and simple, yet thought-provoking, as opposed to the ornamental and decorative arts of the Middle Ages. He also made impressive progress in realistically representing the human body.
Other famous Renaissance artists include Italian artists Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael Sanzio. Leonardo spent much of his time studying anatomy, science and engineering but managed to produce a few very famous paintings, such as “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.1
Michelangelo was the dominant sculptor of the High Renaissance (beginning in the 1490’s), although he was also an accomplished painter. His most famous works of art are “David” and “Pieta” in St. Peters’ Cathedral, as well as the fresco (mural painting on fresh lime plaster) on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Raphael focused on the beauty of the natural world and painted such works as “The School of Athens” in the Vatican.
It was in Venice that artists Giorgione and Titian, among others, moved from fresco paintings to painting in oil directly on canvas, which allowed the artist to rework an image. This technique is still dominant in present day. 1
Mona Lisa (1503-1505) by Leonardo da Vinci
David (1501-1504) by Michelangelo
The School of Athens (1508-1511) by Raphael
1. Renaissance Art. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/497788/Renaissance-art