Top 10 Fascinating Renaissance Art Gems Made By Geniuses

Tags: #MonaLisa ,   #LeonardodaVinci ,   #AlberthDurer ,   #Renaissance ,   ##louvre

Mark Kirchman

Mark Kirchman

Last updated:  2023-05-02 18:00:06

After Medieval times and before the Enlightenment period, Renaissance comes as an excellent introduction to humankind's possibilities. People consider medieval times an era when not many innovations came to light. Yet, Renaissance rediscovered ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, which greatly influenced it. Also, many artists and intellectuals left some impressive Renaissance art pieces. That's why we decided to honor the astonishing architectural, painting, and sculptural pieces from the 15th, until the 17th century. Let's go on a tour of the top ten Renaissance artwork pieces and discover their fascinating stories!

10. Chambord Castle, France

Enjoy Chambord Castle's beauty from air

In the heart of France lies one of the most recognizable castles in the world, built by the King of France, Francis I (1515-1547). The beauty of this place is the combination of Medieval and French Renaissance architecture blending nicely together. The moat surrounding it, the walls, the keep - this palace seemingly has everything expected from a Medieval castle. However, the layout of the rooms doesn't include long corridors typical for the time. Instead, it has self-contained suites.

It took builders more than 20 years to finish it, and it's still not completely done! Some of the architects behind this massive project are Domenico da Cortona and Leonardo da Vinci. Today, the place is open to the public, and more than half a million tourists visit it yearly. It's a must-see place when visiting France!

9. Michelangelo Buonarroti, David

How much do you know about Michelangelo?

We all know the story of the fight between David and Goliath, and the most famous sculpture ever made helps us imagine it! Talented Michelangelo made this marble sculpture between 1501 and 1504, and it depicts David concentrating before the battle! This statue represents the ideal forms of Renaissance humanism.

Initially, the statue decorated Florence's cathedral. However, in 1873 a copy replaced the original, which was sent to the Gallery, where it stands today. The Gallery of the Academy of Florence is the second most visited gallery in Italy! So, get ready for some breathtaking pieces to see once you are there!

8. St. Peter's Basilica in Rome

When in Rome you have to visit Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica

Next on our list is the biggest church in Christendom, situated in the Vatican. Tradition holds that Saint Peter, chief Jesus's apostille, is buried under the altar. Because of this, many Popes have their graves at this location. During the 4th century, Constantine the Great built a church on the same spot.

At some moment, the church officials decided it was time to make a new and more prominent basilica on the spot of the old one. Therefore, many distinguished artists and architects applied their plans and drawings. Among them are Michelangelo and Raphael, famous Renaissance figures. Luckily, today we can adore their plans in the Gallery Uffizi in Florence. Even though the construction started in the 16th century, not until the mid-17th century did the building get today's shape.

7. The Gubbio Studiolo

Studiolo is so unusual, but also very pretty

We're still in Italy but moved up to the north, to a small village named Gubbio. In the 14th and the 15th century, a local duke family, Montefeltro, ordered a studiolo for their palace. They wished for it to be made in intarsia technique. Studiolo is a room where that time's intellectuals would come and contemplate, surrounded by images of items of their interests.

Today we can see the original studiolo in The Met in New York City. It's important to point out that in Gubbio, there's a workshop where skillful craftsmen preserve this unique technique. Intarsia is a method of putting small pieces of wood in different colors next to each other to make a picture. Outstanding work and studiolo mark this astonishing period of humankind!

6. Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi

There's still mystery about who made this paint

This painting got a lot of attention in previous years because of its price, close to half a billion dollars! Thus, that makes it the most expensive painting sold! As the new owner, the Saudi Arabian prince reportedly would exhibit it in Louvre Abu Dhabi. The painting is probably the work of Leonardo da Vinci or some of his students.

On it, Jesus Christ is showing a cross sign with his lifted right arm, while in the left arm, he has a transparent crystal globe. With those symbols, he's telling us he's the savior of the world. Like with many paintings, we have several drawings of what scholars believe to be the original preparation drawings by Leonardo for this particular painting. Today we can see them in the British Royal Collection. 

5. Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini portrait

Learn more about this The Arnolfini portrait

The early Netherlandish painter is the mastermind behind one of the most original and complex paintings of the Western World! This Renaissance art shows the Italian merchant Arnolfini and his wife, but the ability of the painter to point out details takes the show! Moreover, some Rennaissance art historians say the painting is a form of a marriage contract!

Jack van Eyck shows different parts of the room and objects defining this family with exquisite shades of light. The eye-catching thing to everybody who examines this painting is the mirror in the back of the room. This adds depth g and a whole new perspective to the surroundings. Since 1842 we can see and enjoy this picture in the National Gallery in London.

4. Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus

We still don't everything about The Birth of Venus

Today, one of the most renowned paintings is in the always-full Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Probably the local royal family, the Medici, ordered the talented Botticelli to paint a mythical scene of the birth of the goddess Venus. We wonder how much it cost them! If Botticelli knew he was making one of the most known paintings, would he ask for more?

In the center of the scene is Venus, rising from the seashell. On her left is the Hora of Spring, and on her right are Zpehur and his companion. Art historians mostly agree that there's no secret meaning behind the painting, even though another Botticelli work, "Primavera," might be a pair with this one.

3. Alberth Durer, Rhinoceros

Alberth Durer made a remarkable artwork based on limited data

Probably no animal picture influenced the art world more than this one! No European saw a live specimen of rhinoceros since the ancient Roman Empire until 1515. However, Durer, one of the greatest Renaissance artists of his age, took upon the task of making an image. All he had were stories and a brief sketch of the animal which came to Europe as a gift for Pope Leo X.

While some inaccurate anatomic details exist, Durer's woodcut image became popular and copied over the following centuries! Not until the 18th century a few rhinos were brought to Europe, and some other artists did more realistic images of them. Nonetheless, this image remains powerful evidence of how the world imagined one animal, which we can easily search for on Google today!

2. Raphael Santi, School of Athens

Raphael was strongly inspired by the ancient philosophers

Have you ever wondered how a small painting (500 x 700 cm) can be so influential? Raphael had a task to decorate the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, representing philosophy. Yet, he perfectly captured the spirit of the revoked antiquity in Renaissance famous art.

The figures in the painting are some of the prominent philosophers of the ancient world, such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Epicurus, and many others. How inspirational times those must have been! At the same time, Michelangelo was in the Sistine Chapel painting his masterpiece, and Pope Leo X was thinking of building, already mentioned St. Peter's Basilica.

1. Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa

Do you know why exactly is Mona Lisa painting so popular?

Our number one is the most famous painting in the whole world. Genius Leonardo da Vinci portrayed a young lady, Florence noblewoman Lisa Gherardini. Leonardo created this Renaissance artwork at the beginning of the 16th century, but the King of France, Francis I, bought it shortly afterward. Since 1797, it's been on permanent display in the Louvre museum.

As expected, the painting brought more and more attention to itself as time passed. At the beginning of the 20th century, an Italian patriot stole it, while another man tried to cut it and take it home because he was in love with it. Furthermore, several more attacks happened, such as stone-throwing or paint-spraying over it. Luckily, the glass would always protect it, but now a bullet-proof one stands between the painting and us!

Renaissance was an exciting period in our history, at least in Italy! Some scholars debate if we should separate history into so many periods because life for everyday people didn't change until the Industrial Revolution. Nevertheless, we have proof of many talented Rennaisance artists working close to each other in the same places. Therefore, we hope you're now interested in exploring this exciting period of history and wish to learn more about it!

Do you have your favorite renaissance artist in our top ten list? Have you seen some of these art pieces? Please share your experience with us in the comment section!

Photo: janeb13/Pixabay



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