Renaissance is one of the most important periods of history for art. This period spawned some of the best artists every, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo Da Vinci. Even if you don’t know much about art, these two probably ring some bells for you. They’re so influential, that two characters from the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are called Michelangelo and Leonardo.
This period lasted roughly 300 years, from the 14th to the 17th century and marks a crucial point in our history. Let’s end this history class and take a look at some of the best and the most famous renaissance paintings, shall we?
Most Famous Renaissance Paintings
1. Mona Lisa
Painted by legendary Leonardo Da Vinci in 1517, Mona Lisa is a painting that every living human creature on the planet Earth has heard of. Some speculate that even the Aliens have heard of it, but we won’t get into that. Jokes aside, this painting is known as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, and the most parodied work of art in the world”. The whole premise of this photo is a woman’s face with a mild smile also known as the laughing one. Leonardo Da Vinci said that this photo is still work in progress and forever remained work in progress, despite its almost-perfect look. This speaks very highly of Leonardo, both as an artist and as a man.
Leonardo was so emotionally bound to this picture, that it was never delivered to its commissioner, keeping it until the end of his life. The Guinness World Record list has it as the highest insurance value for a painting, costing around $760 million.
2. The Creation of Adam
Michelangelo Buonarroti graced us with another beautiful renaissance painting in 1512 – The Creation of Adam. This picture is a school example of renaissance art and represents the second most popular photo in this category of art. It is the most replicated religious paintings ever and you’ve probably seen it in churches or palaces. In this picture, we see Adam as he tries to reach the hand of God and as such, he’s probably the only person to have done it. We, ordinary people, can only speculate if God exists but Adam would probably confirm it if he was alive and if he could speak from the picture. Interestingly, it’s also the most parodied picture, accompanied by Mona Lisa.
3. The Last Supper
The religious artwork often gets parodied and ridiculed, and The Last Supper is no exception. Once again painted by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1498, it’s a picture that shows Jesus and his disciples as he announces that some of them will betray him, which in the end, really happened. We must give props where props are due and this time, it’s for Leonardo Da Vinci. Having all this knowledge of botany, anatomy, geology alongside extraordinary painting skills is something very few people have. This only adds to the worth of this photo, which is one of the most remarkable works from the renaissance period.
4. The Kiss of Judas
The Kiss of Judas was painted by Giotto di Bondone, long before Leonardo painted his works – in 1306. Modern critics see Giotto as one of the first modern painters, saying that no one has surpassed him and that a handful of them only came close. If you’ve ever worried why your crayons in the primary schools were called Giotto, this is why. This picture is sort of a sequel to The Last Supper, as it captures the moment Judas betrayed Jesus by kissing him, thus identifying him to the soldiers.
Sandro Botticelli painted Primavera in 1482 and with this remarkable painting, he became one of the most important renaissance artists ever. Primavera means “the season of spring” and there have been numerous interpretations of this painting. The most popular explanation is that it represents a mythological allegory of the burgeoning fertility of the world. Botticelli really put a lot of work in this picture, showing his unmatched skills and extravagant use of colors. Primavera is one of the best examples of pictures from the early stages of a renaissance.
6. The School of Athens
The School of Athens is one of the main frescoes in the Stanze di Raffaello, a famous Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. Alongside this fresco, there are three more and in synergy with this one, they epitomize Theology, Poetry, Philosophy, and Law. Critics said that every famous Greek philosopher can be found in the painting, yet the artists recognized only Aristotle and Plato. Still, The School of Athens is one of the most recognizable photos from the renaissance period.
7. Sistine Madonna
Once again painted by Raphael in 1512, Sistine Madonna is a beautifully-crafted picture showing the Madonna holding the Christ Child, with Saint Barbara and Saint Sixtus standing on the sides. On the bottom of the photo, we can see two cherubs, right beneath Mary. The picture is so popular and critically-acclaimed, that it captured Germany’s attention, as they deem it as the best picture world has ever seen. Raphael would probably be happy if he knew what a masterpiece he left behind.
8. The Birth of Venus
Finally, we have Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece from 1486. The picture depicts the well-known myth of Venus rising from the sea. Venus is a goddess of love, born out of a seashell as a fully-mature woman that arrives at the shore. With the picture representing the Neoplatonic idea of divine love, it’s one of the most valuable Renaissance artworks of all time.
It’s easy to see why renaissance had a huge impact on the world of art. Many of them are focused on religion and display the highest level of artistry, given the artists who stand behind them. While you probably won’t have millions of dollars to buy some of these, you can still cherish them as some of the finest pieces of art the world has ever seen.