Italy has seen some of the greatest painters of all time in its rich artistic history, especially when it was center of European art during the Renaissance. Know about 10 of the most renowned Italian painters from Giotto to Caravaggio and have a look at their masterpieces.

Note: Please click on the images in the gallery to view them. Then click on top left to enlarge to full size.

 

#10 Tintoretto

Lifespan: 1518 – 1594

Tintoretto - Self Portrait
Tintoretto – Self Portrait

Tintoretto, or Jacopo Comin, was one of the three Venetian giants from the Renaissance, along with Titian and Veronese. During the Renaissance Italian artists developed perspective to create an illusion of three-dimensional space. Tintoretto stretched this technique to its limit by using long and vast perspectives. Tintoretto’s style was innovative and dramatic and he had fervor for colossal works. His art is known for its flamboyance, radicalness and modernity.

Masterpiece: The Last Supper (1594)

Other Famous Works:-

  • St Mark’s Body Brought to Venice (1562-66)
  • Miracle of the Slave (1548)
  • Crucifixion (1565)
The Last Supper (1594) by Jacopo Tintoretto
The Last Supper (1594)

 

#9 Giorgione

Lifespan: 1478 – 1510

Giorgione - Self Portrait
Giorgione – Self Portrait as David

Giorgione was Titian’s master and together with his pupil he founded the distinctive Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting. His brilliant career was cut short due to his death in his early thirties. Giorgione is famous for the elusive poetic quality of his artwork. His untimely death, artistic brilliance, unknown life and uncertainty of the meaning behind his paintings make Giorgione one of the most mysterious and talked about figures in the history of European art.

Masterpiece: The Tempest (1508)

Other Famous Works:

  • The Adoration of the Shepherds (1505)
  • Castelfranco Madonna (1505)
  • Sleeping Venus (1510)
The Tempest (1508) - Giorgione
The Tempest (1508)

 

#8 Sandro Botticelli

Lifespan: c. 1445 – 1510

Sandro Botticelli - Self Portrait
Sandro Botticelli – Self Portrait

Although Botticelli rose to become one of the most acclaimed painters in Italy, by the end of his life his reputation started to decline and he was eclipsed by younger artists. Posthumously his reputation continued to suffer till 1890s after which his work was seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Now considered one of the greatest Italian painters, Botticelli’s work is renowned for fascinating use of color.

Masterpiece: Primavera (1482)

Other famous works:-

  • The Birth of Venus (1486)
  • Adoration of the Magi (1476)
  • The Mystical Nativity (1501)
Primavera (1482) - Botticelli
Primavera (1482)

 

#7 Tommaso Masaccio

Lifespan: 1401 – 1428

Masaccio - Self Portrait
Masaccio – Self Portrait

Considered as the founder of Renaissance art, Masaccio changed the direction of Italian painting. He was the first to fully master depth and perspective in his painting, employing techniques such as vanishing point in art for the first time. He was responsible in moving Italian art away from the International Gothic style to a more realistic, profound and natural style. Though Masaccio died at the age of twenty six, the body of his work left a strong influence on the artists to follow.

Masterpiece: Holy Trinity (1428)

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Tribute Money (1425)
  • Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1425)
  • Madonna and Child with Angels (1426)
Holy Trinity (1428) - Masaccio
Holy Trinity (1428)

 

#6 Raphael

Lifespan: 1483 – 1520

Raphael - Self Portrait
Raphael – Self Portrait

With Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael was one of the greatest painters of Italian High Renaissance. He is famous for his paintings of the Madonna and Christ Child. Raphael was a master in realistically depicting emotion in great detail. He died on his 37th birthday. His movement toward Mannerism influenced painting styles of future artists till the twentieth century.

Masterpiece: The School of Athens (1509)

Other famous works:-

  • Sistine Madonna (1512)
  • Galatea (1514)
  • Madonna of the Goldfinch (1506)
The School of Athens (1509) - Raphael
The School of Athens (1509)

 

#5 Titian

Lifespan: c.1476-1576

Titian - Self-Portrait
Titian – Self-Portrait

Titian’s works define the main features of 16th century Venetian Art. He was a versatile painter, adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly his emphasis on the touches of the brush and even sometimes of fingertips, exercised profound influence on the future generations of Western art. He is also known for transforming the history of art and of patronage, enabling kings and princes of the Church to commission sexual seductions as readily as crucifixions.

Masterpiece: Assumption of the Virgin (1518)

Other famous works:-

  • Bacchus and Ariadne (1523)
  • Diana and Actaeon (1559)
  • Venus of Urbino (1538)
Assumption of the Virgin - Titian
Assumption of the Virgin – Titian

 

#4 Michelangelo Buonarroti

Lifespan: 1475 – 1564

Potrait of Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte
Potrait of Michelangelo

Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists of all time but he defined himself as a ‘sculptor’ and had low view of painting. Still he created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and The Last Judgement on its altar wall. Hence despite his low opinion of painting, these masterpieces guarantee him a place among the best painters of all time.

Masterpiece: The Creation of Adam (1512)

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Last Judgment (1541)
  • The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1550)
  • Doni Tondo (1506)
The Creation of Adam (1512) - Michelangelo
The Creation of Adam (1512)

 

#3 Giotto di Bondone

Lifespan: c.1267-1337

Statue representing Giotto
Statue representing Giotto

Giotto revolutionized Western art to the point that many critics consider him the first genius of European painting. He was the first artist to break away from Byzantine style and instead drew accurately from life. His paintings are known for being the first to masterfully capture the gestures, faces, sorrows and joys of human beings and for being faithful to nature. His fresco cycle on the Scrovegni Chapel is one of the most important masterpieces of Western art. Some critics believe that no one has ever painted better than Giotto, and only a handful have equaled him.

Masterpiece: The Kiss of Judas (1306)

Other famous works:-

  • Ognissanti Madonna (1310)
  • Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) (1306)
  • Adoration of the Magi (1306)
The Kiss of Judas (1306) - Giotto
The Kiss of Judas (1306)

 

#2 Caravaggio

Lifespan: 1571 – 1610

Potrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni
Potrait of Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting. He is in fact considered the father of Baroque painting. Caravaggio’s style can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernini, and Rembrandt, and artists in the following generation heavily under his influence were called the “Caravaggisti”.

Masterpiece: The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Calling of St Matthew (1600)
  • Death of the Virgin (1606)
  • David with the Head of Goliath (1610)
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608) - Caravaggio
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608)

 

#1 Leonardo Da Vinci

Lifespan: 1452 – 1519

Self Potrait - Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci – Self Potrait in Red Chalk

Da Vinci was a ‘universal genius’ but for four centuries his fame rested on his laurels as a painter. His detailed knowledge of anatomy, light, botany and geology helped him in creating the masterpieces he is known for. Da Vinci used sudden gradation of tone and is famous for capturing human emotions in expressions and gestures. In the Last Supper da Vinci beautifully captures the expression of each apostle after Jesus said that one of them would betray him; while in Mona Lisa he gives us a smile that is still a subject of conjecture, centuries after the painting was made. Da Vinci was perhaps the greatest in capturing subtle expressions due to which his paintings look more alive than others.

Masterpiece: Mona Lisa (1517)

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Last Supper (1498)
  • Virgin of the Rocks (1486)
  • Lady with an Ermine (1490)
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa (1517)

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