The Renaissance saw its beginnings at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, which was about 1400. Painters and poets, and a myriad of other artists, began to show more interest in the classical styles of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was a period of prosperity for politics, science and the artistic fields.
Artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo all made their marks on this period, with the Italian artists definitely leading the way in the Renaissance revolution. During this time, there was a strong focus on capturing the beauty of individual thought and mysteries of the world around us.
The paintings that define this era include:
This is possibly the definitive painting of the Renaissance. It is so simple, remarkably small in size, and yet has captured the mood of the period and the minds of society since it was first unveiled to the public. Created by Leonardo Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa has been discussed by scholars and art lovers for centuries. The enigmatic smile and the way the eyes seem to follow you no matter what angle you stand at are the two main points of conversation.
The Creation of Adam
A far larger scale example of an iconic Renaissance painting, this one graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1512, and was painted upside down essentially as the artist had to use scaffolding to reach the ceiling. Many view this painting as a symbol of humanity – the hand of a human reaching out to touch God’s. It is probably the second most popular painting from the period, with the Mona Lisa coming in first.
The Last Supper
Another of Da Vinci’s great works that inspires people want to play now with paint, this painting is another that has been discussed by experts and normal folk again and again over the centuries. The use of color and the unusual gap between Jesus and the disciple on his right are usually the topics of discussion. Many also wonder who that disciple is – could it be Mary Magdalene and what does that mean?
This particular painting is also so popular due to the fact that it is in danger of disappearing completely. It was painted as a mural on a wall in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and has deteriorated steadily over the years. Many restoration jobs have been done on it, with the most recent one taking place in 1999, in an attempt to keep this valuable work from disappearing.
The School Of Athens
This fresco has a place of significant prominence in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and was painted by Raphael in 1511. This painting was designed to symbolize philosophy, showing off Plato and Aristotle in the center of the image as they walk through the corridors discussing something. The other frescos on the remaining three walls in the Apostolic Palace represent law, poetry and theology – making up the four foundation principles of the period.