Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Giotto di Bondone, Cappella degli Scrovegni all'Arena, Padua

Travel guide for Tuscany

Masterpieces and artists of the Italian Renaissance

Prior to the Renaissance, the Italian language was not the literary language in Italy. It was only in the 13th century that Italian authors began writing in their native language rather than Latin, French, or Provençal. The 1250s saw a major change in Italian poetry as the Dolce Stil Novo (Sweet New Style, which emphasized Platonic rather than courtly love) came into its own, pioneered by poets like Guittone d'Arezzo and Guido Guinizelli. Especially in poetry, major changes in Italian literature had been taking place decades before the Renaissance truly began. Indeed, the 13th-century Italian literary revolution helped set the stage for the Renaissance.

An increasing number of works began to be published in the Italian vernacular. Simultaneously, the source for these works shifted away from religion and towards the pre-Christian eras of Imperial Rome and Ancient Greece. This is not to say that no religious works were published in this period: Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy reflects a distinctly medieval worldview. Christianity remained a major influence for artists and authors, with the classics coming into their own as a second primary influence.

In the early Renaissance, especially in Italy, much of the focus was on translating and studying classic works from Latin and Greek. Both the cultures were highly admired in the Renaissance, especially after the newly labelled Dark Ages. Renaissance authors were not content to rest on the laurels of ancient authors, however. Many authors attempted to integrate the methods and styles of the ancient greats into their own works. Among the most emulated Romans are Cicero, Horace, Sallust, and Virgil. Among the Greeks, Aristotle, Homer, Plato, and Socrates were also heavily emulated by Renaissance authors.

The literature and poetry of the Renaissance was also largely influenced by the developing science and philosophy. The humanist Francesco Petrarch, a key figure in the renewed sense of scholarship, was also an accomplished poet, publishing several important works of poetry. He wrote poetry in Latin, notably the Punic War epic Africa, but is today remembered for his works in the Italian vernacular, especially the Canzoniere, a collection of love sonnets dedicated to his unrequited love Laura. He was the foremost writer of sonnets in Italian, and translations of his work into English by Thomas Wyatt established the sonnet form in that country, where it was employed by William Shakespeare and countless other poets.

Petrarch's disciple, Giovanni Boccaccio, became a major author in his own right. His major work was the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories told by ten storytellers who have fled to the outskirts of Florence to escape the black plague over ten nights. The Decameron in particular and Boccaccio's work in general were a major source of inspiration and plots for many English authors in the Renaissance, including Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, and beyond.

Aside from Christianity, classical antiquity, and scholarship, a fourth influence on Renaissance literature was politics. The political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli is an important Italian author. His most famous work is The Prince, which has become so well-known in Western society that the term "Machiavellian" has come into use, referring to the self-serving attitude advocated by the book. However, most experts agree that Machiavelli himself did not fully embrace the tactics in his book, making "Machiavellian" a slightly inaccurate term. Regardless, along with many other Renaissance works, The Prince remains a relevant and influential work of literature today.

Science and philosophy

Petrarch is considered by many to be the founder of a new method of scholarship known as Renaissance Humanism. Humanism saw man as a rational and sentient being with the ability to decide and think for himself. This was a rejection of the Catholic Church's vision of souls as the only absolute reality, which was then seen as mystical and imaginary. It saw man as inherently good by nature which is in contrast to the Christian view of man as the original sinner who must be redeemed. It provoked fresh insight into the nature of reality, questioning beyond God and spirituality, and provided for knowledge about history beyond Christian history.

Petrarch encouraged the study of the Latin classics and also Greek literature. An important step was thus the hunting down of ancient manuscripts, many of which had been lost or forgotten. These endeavors were greatly aided by the wealth of Italian patricians, merchant-princes and despots, who would spend substantial sums building libraries. Discovering the past had become fashionable and it was a passionate affair pervading the upper reaches of society. I go, said Cyriac of Ancona, I go to awake the dead.

As the Greek works were acquired, manuscripts found, libraries and museums formed, the age of the printing press was dawning. The works were translated from Greek and Latin into the contemporary modern languages throughout Europe finding a receptive audience.

While concern for philosophy, art and literature all increased greatly in the Renaissance the period is usually seen as one of scientific backwardness. The reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe. Humanism stressed that nature came to be viewed as an animate spiritual creation that was not governed by laws or mathematics. At the same time philosophy lost much of its rigour as the rules of logic and deduction were seen as secondary to intuition and emotion.

It would not be until the Renaissance moved to Northern Europe that science would be revived, with such figures as Copernicus, Francis Bacon, and Descartes. They are often described as early Enlightenment thinkers, rather than late Renaissance ones.


  Andrea del Castagno,  Francesco Petrarca
Andrea del Castagno, Francesco Petrarca, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women, c. 1450. Detached fresco. 247 x 153 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze.
In Italy in the 14th century there was an explosion of musical activity that corresponded in scope and level of innovation to the activity in the other arts. Although musicologists typically group the music of the trecento with the late medieval period, it included features which align with the early Renaissance in important ways: an increasing emphasis on secular sources, styles and forms; a spreading of culture away from ecclesiastical institutions to the nobility, and even to the common people; and a quick development of entirely new techniques. The principal forms were the trecento madrigal, the caccia, and the ballata. Overall, the musical style of the period is sometimes labelled as the "Italian ars nova." See Music of the trecento for more detail on this period.

From the early 15th century to the middle of the 16th century, the center of innovation in sacred music was in the Low Countries, and a flood of talented composers came to Italy from this region. Many of them sang in either the papal choir in Rome or the choirs at the numerous chapels of the aristocracy, in Rome, Florence, Milan, Ferrara and elsewhere; and they brought their polyphonic style with them, influencing many native Italian composers during their stay.

The predominant forms of church music during the period were the mass and the motet. By far the most famous composer of church music in 16th century Italy was Palestrina, the most prominent member of the Roman School, whose style of smooth, emotionally cool polyphony was to become the defining sound of the late 16th century, at least for generations of 19th- and 20th century musicologists. Other Italian composers of the late 16th century focused on composing the main secular form of the era, the madrigal: and for almost a hundred years these secular songs for multiple singers were distributed all over Europe. Composers of madrigals included Jacques Arcadelt, at the beginning of the age, Cipriano de Rore, in the middle of the century, and Luca Marenzio, Philippe de Monte, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi at the end of the era.

Italy was also a centre of innovation in instrumental music. By the early 16th century keyboard improvisation came to be greatly valued, and numerous composers of virtuoso keyboard music appeared. Many familiar instruments were invented and perfected in late Renaissance Italy, such as the violin, the earliest forms of which came into use in the 1550s.

By the late 16th century Italy was the musical centre of Europe. Almost all of the innovations which were to define the transition to the Baroque period originated in northern Italy in the last few decades of the century. In Venice, the polychoral productions of the Venetian School, and associated instrumental music, moved north into Germany; in Florence, the Florentine Camerata developed monody, the important precursor to opera, which itself first appeared around 1600; and the avant-garde, manneristic style of the Ferrara school, which migrated to Naples and elsewhere through the music of Carlo Gesualdo, was to be the final statement of the polyphonic vocal music of the Renaissance.

Sculpture and painting

Sculpture was the first of the fine arts to display Renaissance traits. Donatello (1386–1466) was one of the most notable sculptors of the early Renaissance. He returned to classical techniques such as contrapposto and classical subjects like the unsupported nude – his second sculpture of David was the first free-standing bronze nude created in Europe since the Roman Empire. About a century later Michelangelo developed figures that were completely independent of any architectural structure surrounding them. His statue of David is also a nude study; Michelangelo's David however is moving in a more natural way. Both sculptures are standing in contrapost, their weight shifted to one leg.

During the Renaissance, painters began to enhance the realism of their work by using new techniques in perspective, thus representing three dimensions more authentically. Artists also began to use new techniques in the manipulation of light and darkness, such as the tone contrast evident in many of Titian's portraits and the development of sfumato and chiaroscuro by Leonardo da Vinci. The period also saw movement away from religious themes, which were omnipresent in medieval art. The human body and natural landscapes became the centre of attention. Piero della Francesca is noted for painting from an aerial perspective. Masaccios figures have a plasticity unknown up to that point in time. Compared to the flatness of gothic painting, his pictures were revolutionary. Less well known names from the Early Renaissance period include Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli.

The most "refined" works were produced in what is called the Renaissance Classicism or High Renaissance. The most famous painters from this time period are Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Their images are among the most widely known works of art in the world. The Last Supper, the Scuola di Atena and the Holy Family all feature a perspective, lively and natural presentation of people and landscapes. Renaissance painting evolved into Mannerism around the mid-16th century. Mannerism depicts mostly landscapes and portraits, with few religious themes. Figures become more elongated and their movements appear artificial.

Early Renaissance painting bridges the period of European art history between the art of the Middle Ages and the art of the Renaissance.
Two regions of Europe were particularly artistically active during this period: Italy, initially, and later northern Europe (essentially Flanders). The Renaissance is considered to have reached northern Europe in the late 15th and early 16th century. Thus, most of the Early Renaissance works in northern Europe were produced between 1420 and 1550.
The works of art of this period features mainly religious themes (the Church was the main client of these artists), but also some purely figurative themes.
The religious symbolism is largely drawn from the work of Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend (1260).

Some more mundane themes were treated, but they were often treated via a religious or mythological representations. For instance, Early Renaissance artists sometimes used the theme of Adam and Eve as a way to represent female and male nudes in a then morally acceptable way. Sometimes a fig leaf covered their genitals.

Art in Tuscany | Italian Renaissance painting

Italian artists

Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)

Donatello (1386–1466)

Fra Angelico (c.1395-1455)




Donatello's slightly smaller than life-sized bronze David was most likely commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici and it stood on a column in the courtyard of the Medici palace in Florence. The sleekly sensual depiction of the adolescent David, who stands in a languid pose, his left foot carelessly resting on Goliath's severed head, is remarkable for its naturalism. Donatello departed, however, from familiar images of David by presenting him nude, in the manner of a classical ephebe or slim, pre-pubescent boy. The unusual representation of the David, departing as it does from the biblical text and from classical forms of heroism, suggest that Donatello intended to convey more than just the narrative of David and Goliath. This lead to recent interpretations of the figure's purported androgyny, his sexuality and his homoerotic charge.

David has placed one foot on the severed head of Goliathin a positively playful manner. and is almost casually pressing it against the cushion he is standing on. The magnificendy decorated helmet and his beard cover large sections of his face. though the supposed superiority of the now defeated man is still visible in it.

Giotto, Scenes from the Life of Christ, Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ), 1304-06, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267 – January 8, 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance.

Giotto's contemporary Giovanni Villani wrote that Giotto was "the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature. And he was given a salary by the Comune of Florence in virtue of his talent and excellence."

The late-16th century biographer Giorgio Vasari says of him: "[H]e made a decisive break with the crude traditional Byzantine style, and brought to life the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years."
Giotto's masterwork is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, commonly called the Arena Chapel, completed around 1305. This fresco cycle depicts the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. It is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. That Giotto painted the Arena Chapel and that he was chosen by the Comune of Florence in 1334 to design the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral are among the few certainties of his biography. Almost every other aspect of it is subject to controversy: his birthdate, his birthplace, his appearance, his apprenticeship, the order in which he created his works, whether or not he painted the famous frescoes at Assisi, and his burial place.

Art in Tuscany | Giotto di Bondone


Paolo Uccello, detail of Five Masters of the Florentine Renaissance (or Fathers of Perspective), a portrait of Giotto),
c. 1450, Tempera on wood, 43 x 210 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Masaccio born in 1401, died in 1428. Perhaps one of the most influential artists of the Renaissance. Historians claim that he, along with Donatello and Brunelleschi, inspired the style of art that typifies art of the period. In his 27 years on the planet, he developed a style that used perspective in a way that created an illusion of three-dimensions--a significant change from the flat style of painting that typified medieval art. His most famous work can be found in the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence.

Ghiberti born in 1378, died 1455. Exceptional bronze sculpture, most famous for being selected to do the doors to the baptistry of the doors of the Duomo in Florence, being chosen over such artists as Brunelleschi and Donatello. Some art historians define the entries submitted in this contest as the beginning point of Renaissance art. Ghiberti spent 21 years doing the north doors. The year after he completed those doors, he was commissioned to do the east doors. He spent the next 28 years producing the brass panels depicting the Old Testament that complete those doors which Michelangelo described as the "gates of Paradise." He also sculpted St. Matthew and St. John the Baptist out of bronze for the Orsanmichele in Florence.    


Like painting, Renaissance architecture was inspired by the Classical. In Italy, the Renaissance style first started to develop in Florence. Some of the earliest buildings showing Renaissance characteristics are Filippo Brunelleschi's sacral buildings S. Lorenzo and the Pazzi Chapel. The interior of S. Spirito expresses a new sense of light clarity and spaciousness, which is typical of the early Italian Renaissance (1420 to 1500). The architecture reflects the philosophy of Humanism, the enlightenment and clarity of mind as opposed to the darkness and spirituality of the Middle Ages. The revival of classical antiquity can best be illustrated by the Palazzo Ruccelai. Here the columns follow the classical orders. The columns are topped by Doric capitals on the ground floor, Ionic capitals on the first floor and Corinthian capitals on the second floor.

The Renaissance style developed to its fullest at around 1500 in Rome. St. Peter's Basilica is the most notable building of the era. Originally planned by Donato Bramante, who was one of most prominent architects of the time, the building was influenced by almost all notable Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta. The beginning of the late Renaissance in 1550 was marked by the development of a new column order by Andrea Palladio. Colossal columns that were two or more stories tall decorated the facades.

Renaissance Architecture: The cultural movement called the Renaissance (which literally means re-birth) was just that in architecture, a rebirth of the Roman traditions of design recognized by contemporaries in the term all'Antica, "in the Antique manner.

It was expressed in a new emphasis on rational clarity and regularity of parts, arranged in simple mathematical proportions and in a conscious revival of Roman architecture. To the 'man in the street' the style was simply columns and symmetry as opposed to the stone work and irregular gabled facades which preceded the new style. Classically-styled columns, geometrically-perfect designs, and hemispherical domes characterized Renaissance architecture.

The movement began in Florence and central Italy in the early 15th century, as an expression of Humanism. In Italy, four phases of Renaissance style can be identified:
1. the Early Renaissance of Leone Battista Alberti and Filippo Brunelleschi,
2. the High Renaissance of Donato Bramante and Raphael,
3. the widely diverging Mannerist tendencies in some work of Michelangelo and Giulio Romano and Andrea Palladio,
4. and finally the Baroque of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, in which the same architectural vocabulary was used for very different rhetoric.

When the Renaissance spirit was finally exported into Spain, France, England, the Low Countries, Germany, Poland and Sweden, the style made its appearance fully formed. However, it had to compromise with local traditions and climates, subsequently its phases are not so clearly distinguished in individual buildings. The most Italian like style of the Renaissance outside of Italy is the Polish Renaissance.

In England the first great exponent of Renaissance architecture was Inigo Jones (1573–1652), who had studied architecture in Italy where the influence of Palladio was very strong. Jones returned to England full of enthusiasm for the new movement and immediately began to design such buildings as the Queen's House at Greenwich in 1616 and the Banqueting House at Whitehall three years later. These works, with their clean lines, and symmetry were revolutionary in a country still enamoured with mullion windows, crenelations and turrets.

Hatfield House built in its entirety by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, between 1607 and 1611, is a perfect example of the transition period from the gabled turreted style of the previous era. One can clearly see the turreted Tudor style wings at each end with their mullioned windows, however, the whole is achieving a symmetry and the two wings are linked by an Italianate Renaissance facade. This central facade, originally an open loggia, has been attributed to Inigo Jones himself, however, the central porch carries a heavier Jacobean influence than Jones would have used, so the attribution is probably false. Inside the house the elaborately carved staircase demonstrates the Italien renaissance impression on English ornament.

Jones's work was followed later by such master architects as Christopher Wren with his designs for St. Paul's Cathedral and many other public buildings and churches in London following the Great Fire of London in 1666. The Great Fire created an opportunity for the new generation of architects to promote the classical traditions on a scale probably unequalled in one city anywhere else in the world. However, the original renaissance style imported by Inigo Jones was now merging with the baroque.

Later architects such as the Venetian Giacomo Leoni in the following century adapted and modified the style to suit the English landscape and the tastes of his country-loving clients, while still remaining true to the Italian influence of design. Lyme Hall in Cheshire is a superb example of this.

The influence of Renaissance architecture can still be seen in many of the modern styles and rules of architecture today.

Important buildings constructed in this period are:

* Santa Maria del Fiore
* Santa Maria Novella
* Santo Spirito
* Palazzo del Te
* Villa Capra "La Rotonda"
* Villa Farnese
* Wawel

Brunelleschi, born in 1377, died in 1446. Architect in Florence that made the cupola of the Florence cathedral. The Duomo of Florence has become the symbol of Florence, is its tallest building and is a symbol of the wealth and civic pride of the affluent families of the city during the Renaissance. The church, on which construction began in 1299, is crowned by the massive dome designed by Brunelleschi almost two centuries later. This building did not have a roof for 175 years because it posed a major architectural challenge with the large area the dome had to span. You can climb 463 steps up the dome and view the city below. Seven of the great artists of Florence, including Brunelleschi and Donatello, competed for the opportunity to make these doors (and earn the stipend for the work). Beyond his abilities as an architect, Brunelleschi was recognized for using geometric principles in creating perspective and influencing both Masaccio and Donatello to follow that style.


Basilica di San Lorenzo, interior

Giorgio Vasari, (born July 30, 1511, Arezzo [Italy]—died June 27, 1574, Florence), Italian painter, architect, and writer who is best known for his important biographies of Italian Renaissance artists.
When still a child, Vasari was the pupil of Guglielmo de Marcillat, but his decisive training was in Florence, where he enjoyed the friendship and patronage of the Medici family, trained within the circle of Andrea del Sarto, and became a lifelong admirer of Michelangelo. As an artist Vasari was both studious and prolific. His painting is best represented by the fresco cycles in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and by the so-called 100-days fresco, which depicts scenes from the life of Pope Paul III, in the Cancelleria in Rome. Vasari’s paintings, often produced with the help of a team of assistants, are in the style of the Tuscan Mannerists and have often been criticized as being facile, superficial, and lacking a sense of colour. Contemporary scholars regard Vasari more highly as an architect than as a painter. His best-known buildings are the Uffizi in Florence, begun in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici, and the church, monastery, and palace created for the Cavalieri di San Stefano in Pisa. The Vasari Corridor is an elevated enclosed passageway in Florence, central Italy, which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The Corridor was built in 1564 by Giorgio Vasari in only five
months at the time of the wedding between Francesco I de' Medici and Giovanna of Austria; it served to link up the Pitti Palace, where the Grand Duke resided, with the Uffizi (or offices) where he worked.

Vasari’s fame rests on his massive book Le Vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani… (1550, 2nd ed., 1568), which was dedicated to Cosimo de’ Medici. In the Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects Vasari offers his own critical history of Western art through several prefaces and a lengthy series of artist biographies. These discussions present three periods of artistic development: according to Vasari, the excellence of the art of classical antiquity was followed by a decline of quality during the Dark Ages, which was in turn reversed by a renaissance of the arts in Tuscany in the 14th century, initiated by Cimabue and Giotto and culminating in the works of Michelangelo. A second and much-enlarged edition of Lives, which added the biographies of a number of artists then living, as well as Vasari’s own autobiography, is now much better known than the first edition and has been widely translated.

Art in Tuscany | The Vasari Corridor
The West Corridor of the Gallery, heads towards the Arno and then, raised up by huge arches, follows the river as far as the Ponte Vecchio, which it crosses by passing on top of the shops. The meat market on the bridge was at this time trasferred elsewhere, so as not to offend the Grand Duke's sensitive nose with unpleasant smells on his walk, and replaced (from 1593) with the goldsmiths who continue to work there today.

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Artist and writer's residency | Holiday houses in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia


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Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden on the valley below


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Italian Renaissance" and is published under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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