Italian Renaissance Period



The Italian Renaissance was a period of huge cultural achievements and movements. During the 14th century until about the 16th century from the transition from Medieval and Early Modern Europe, this defined the Renaissance. Many of the painters and sculptors had very precise and unique works that defined the individual artist as history was made for each artist. In this paper seven renaissance artists were chosen to provide a small glance of the history behind the Italian Renaissance. The paper includes artists from the early renaissance and the high renaissance. As each of the artist had different cultural impacts in not just Italian history, but the history in arts overall. The artists are placed in order from the earliest artist to the most recent one; all including famous masterpieces and how life was for each artist.    


Filippo Brunelleschi is one of the most famous architects of the Italian Renaissance and is extremely well known for his work on the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. He was a very smart man who also saw success in sculpture, mathematics, engineering, and ship design. All of his pieces of work can currently be found in Florence where it is displayed for the public to enjoy.

Brunelleschi was born in Florence in 1377 and received an education. His father wanted Brunelleschi to follow in his footsteps by becoming a notary and therefore his education focused on this career. However, Brunelleschi’s artistic abilities could not go unnoticed so he began taking classes at the Arte della Seta where he learned skills of a goldsmith, metalworker, and bronze worker. By 1398, he began working as a goldsmith and he built his first masterpiece, the Ospedale degli Innocenti.

After Brunelleschi mastered the work of a goldsmith, he decided to switch careers and he became an architect. His style transitioned from gothic and medieval to classicism and urbanism. This transition in artistic style is known today as the Italian Renaissance period and Brunelleschi is viewed as the central figure who drove the change. Around 1402, Brunelleschi and his colleague Donatello traveled to Rome to study the ancient Roman ruins. Brunelleschi and Donatello were the first to study the physical structure of the Roman ruins in vast detail. This inspired Brunelleschi to complete his pieces of work in Florence (

Brunelleschi received commission on many architectural structures including the Ospedale degli Innocenti, the Ridolfi Chapel, the Barbadori Chapel, the Pazzi Chapel, the Sagrestia Vecchia, and the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. Ospedale degli Innocenti was Brunelleschi first architectural work, which is also called the Foundling Hospital. Its long loggia and high arches were very rare in Florence at the time because it was a city that consisted of tight streets with many curves. The building was dignified and simple with no fine marble or decorative patterns, keeping the sights clean yet elegant. This building was originally a children’s orphanage and can still be found in Florence today as a small museum that holds Renaissance art of many famous artists.

Similar design elements were later seen in the Ridolfi Chapel, the Barbadori Chapel, the Pazzi Chapel, and the Sagrestia Vecchia. The Ridolfi Chapel was in the church of San Jacopo sopr’Arno and has not been recovered since the Italian Renaissance. The Barbadori Chapel is in the church of Santa Felicita in Florence. It has since been found since the Italian Renaissance but was later modified. Brunelleschi used these smaller pieces of work to master the skills of architecture and practice prior to his most famous work on the dome of the Cathedral of Florence.

The dome of the Cathedral of Florence was a piece of work that no one knew was possible to build due to its large size and unique structure. It was designed after the dome in Rome but was even bigger and better. Many feared that such a dome would be too heavy and collapse under its own weight. Other challenges included the tools that were available during this time period that would result in a very long and tedious building process. Nevertheless, Brunelleschi was prepared to take on the challenging task and knew that his creativity as well as his skills would allow him to reach success. It took over four million bricks to build the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. During this process, Brunelleschi invented a new machine to help ease the building procedure that allowed workers to raise the masonry used in the dome. This machine was inspired by those used by the Romans to build the dome in Rome (

 Brunelleschi entered into a competition to win the rights to take on the challenging task of building the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. His main competitor was Lorenzo Ghiberti and the two competed by displaying their problem solving skills to prove who would be the best lead builder. Events in the competition involved standing an egg upright on a piece of marble, which neither contestants achieved but Brunelleschi came the closest. Brunelleschi won the competition and received the commission to build the dome of the Cathedral of Florence.

 Brunelleschi dedicated most of his life to building three important pieces of work. These included the dome of the Cathedral of Florence, the lantern, and the exedra. The lantern was built in 1446 and destroyed in 1461. The exedra was built from 1439 until 1445 and sits to crown the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. Brunelleschi saw great success in his architectural career not only because of his creativity and artistic abilities, but also because of his technical skills and mathematical strengths.

 Filippo Brunelleschi died on April 15th, 1446 as the age of sixty-nine. His body currently is in the crypt of the Cathedral of Florence. The entrance of the Cathedral of Florence states, “Both the magnificent dome of this famous church and many other devices invented by Filippo the architect, bear witness to his superb skill. Therefore, in tribute to his exceptional talents, a grateful country that will always remember him buries him here in the soil below.” He will forever be remembered for the great work that he created in Florence to make it a beautiful city (


Sandro Botticelli was born as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi in Florence, Italy in 1445. He was born in a house in the Via Nuova, Borg’Ognissanti area of Florence to his father,  Mariano di Vanni d’Amedeo Filipepi. Sandro Botticelli is one of the most well-known Italian painters of the Early Renaissance period. After expressing his love and desire to study painting, his father, who was a tanner, allowed Sandro to follow his dreams. Sandro Botticelli was chosen to be an apprentice to the very well-known painter Fra Filippo Lippi. He was under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, which was considered the “golden age” by Giorgio Vasari. Sandro was chosen for this position around the age of 14, which was very young for an artist during this time period. Many of his art pieces from this apprenticeship remain unknown, as they have been attributed to Fra Filippo Lippi. Sandro learned very important techniques from Lippi, which were demonstrated in his future works. These included tender expressions in his subject’s faces and gestures, and decorative details that adorned his artwork ((

About a year later, when he was 15, Botticelli was able to open up a workshop which contained all of his own work. His art pieces at this time incorporated Neo-Platonism, which was a method that included Christianity and paganism in his works. By incorporating Neo-Platonism, his work appealed to many different people and their different tastes. Sandro Botticelli selected several apprentices to work in his workshop to help him complete his work. Sandro not only taught them his style of painting, but taught them how to set up and prepare his supplies so he could work without any distractions. During this time, Sandro was able to produce many commissioned art pieces with the help of his apprentices in his workshop (

Some themes that appeared in his work included sad or melancholy characters, mythology, and the gender roles in society. Sometimes he would demonstrate traditional gender roles, as males being more powerful, but a lot of times he switched up the traditional roles and showed females as the important, dominant figures. Another theme that he often displayed in his works was the idea of a sad, young girl who didn’t know what was going on in the world around her. This theme appeared in many of his pieces throughout his career.

Sandro Boticelli’s artwork all seemed to have a common, distinct style that was developed over the time when he worked in his workshop. Characterized by melancholy details, low reliefs, clear contours and an importance on the human figure, Botticelli’s paintings often came to life. Botticelli is most known for his two paintings, The Birth of Venus and La Primavera. Both of these pieces were seen by Giorgio Vasari at the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici at Castello. Until recent findings discovered otherwise, it was assumed that these paintings were painted specifically for the villa at Castello. However, La Primavera, was painted for Lorenzo’s house in Florence, while The Birth of Venus was commissioned elsewhere. Both of these works are now on display at The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Both of these pieces represent the contemporary literary culture, but the exact subject of these works have been debated over time. There are many different interpretations of what exactly these pieces represent or mean.

Sandro’s intricate works of art were most in demand by the Medici family in Florence, Italy. The Medici’s were very important figures in Florence society during this time period. They were used as subjects in a lot of Botticelli’s works, and helped introduce him to very prominent figures in Florence. They paid very large sums of money for his artwork. This point of Sandro’s career was considered a highpoint; both financially and artistically. The Medici’s fame and fortune helped increase Botticelli’s notoriety not only in Florence, but in all of Italy. At this time during his career, he was asked by the Papacy to go to Rome and paint some parts of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. This is a very high honor in the art world, as the invitation to paint the Sistine Chapel was only given to a few of the Renaissance’s most known and talented artists, including Perugino and Michelangelo. While in Rome, Botticelli worked on several frescoes, as well as seven papal portraits in the Sistine Chapel (

After reaching the peak of his career painting several pieces at the Sistine Chapel, Sandro Botticelli faced somewhat of a downfall after becoming a follower of the monk, Girolamo Savonarola, who was a well-known civic leader in Florence from 1490 to 1498. Savonarola stressed giving up all worldly things, and encouraged Florentines to burn many literary works and artworks, which in turn caused Botticelli to burn many of his own paintings. After Savonarola’s downfall in Florence in 1498, many Florentines fled the city, but Sandro stayed and continue to paint. His works of art from this point on included very religious themes and religious symbolism which seemed to tell stories. At this point in his career, he was known as one of the best painters of altarpieces.

The changing landscape of Italian art came as somewhat as a challenge to Sandro Botticelli. As new artists’ pieces gained more recognition, such as Leonardo Di Vinci and Michelangelo, Botticelli struggled to keep up and his work got outshone. He struggled as an artist and tried to take on many commissions that other artists turned down, but they became too difficult for him to complete. His painting style started to change, and his works were full of many different emotions, ranging from violence to compassion. Even though Sandro was a struggling artist at this time, he was still chosen to be a part of the committee who decided where The David statue by Michelangelo would be placed in the city of Florence. He was still appreciated artistically by his peers and by the city.

Since Sandro Botticellli’s death at the age of 65 in 1510, his work is still recognized all over the world. Many people still interpret his famous paintings, and thousands of visitors admire them in galleries. Sandro Botticelli can easily be considered one of the most achieved and recognizable painters from the Italian Renaissance period (


No overview of Renaissance artists would be complete without the creator of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper – Leonardo Da Vinci.  Da Vinci remains one of the most well-known and respected artists from the Renaissance period and is often regarded as the epitome of the “Renaissance man.”  Despite numerous other achievements as an architect and scientist, he is most recognized for his work as a painter.  However, his works transcend merely artwork and combine math and art in ways unheard of during the time period.

Leonardo Da Vinci was born in Vinci, Italy in April 1452 to a Messer Piero Fusino, a legal notary, and Caterina, a peasant.  Born out of wedlock, he had no real surname, adopting the name Da Vinci – meaning “of Vinci” – from his home town.  After living with his mother until his fifth birthday, Da Vinci moved in with his father and received an informal education in Latin, geometry, and mathematics.  At the age of 14, he became an apprentice for respected artist Verrocchio, where he was exposed to numerous technical skills, such as metallurgy, plaster casting, carpentry, painting, and sculpting.  By the age of 20, Da Vinci qualified as a master artist in the Guild of St. Luke and began running his own workshop (

After spending over a decade working with Verocchio, Da Vinci began to paint his first commissioned work, The Adoration of the Magi, in 1482.  However, the work was never completed, as da Vinci was summoned to Milan to work for the Duke as an engineering, painter, architect, and sculptor.  While there, he painted one of his most famous works – The Last Supper – along with Virgin of the Rocks, Holy Family, and numerous sculpting and architecture projects.  One of said projects included a 16 foot tall equestrian monument to honor the Sforza dynasty founder, Francesco Sforza.  Twelve years after beginning the project, da Vinci presented a completed clay model in 1493 and began plans for its casting.  Before the model could be cast, though, the bronze designated for the monument was taken to build cannons during the invasion of Charles VII.  Subsequently, the clay model was destroyed by the French in 1499 during the Second Italian War and Sforza was overthrown.

No longer working for the Milan dynasty, da Vinci fled to Venice with his assistant and friend where he became employed as a military architect and engineer.  The three then continued to Florence, where they lived with Servite monks and started another workshop.  There, da Vinci painted a series of works, including The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist, The Battle of Anghiari, The Battle of Cascina, and The Mona Lisa. 

Between 1502 and 1503, da Vinci briefly left Milan to enter the service of Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, again working as a military engineer.  He traveled throughout Italy with Borgia, creating a map of the general’s stronghold in Imola – an innovative idea at the time.  Cesare was extremely impressed by the final product and appointed da Vinci his chief military architect.  During his time with Cesare, da Vinci created one other map and designed a dam from the sea to Florence to provide water for the canal during all seasons (

In 1506, da Vinci, along with many of his students and followers, returned to Milan until Francis I of France recaptured the city in 1515.  Da Vinci was present at the meeting between Francis I and Pope Leo X in Bologna.  Francis commissioned da Vinci to make a mechanical lion that would walk forward, then open its chest to reveal of cluster of lilies. While working on the project, Francis gave the artist permission to live in the manor house, Clos Lucé, where he spent the last three years of his life.

Da Vinci died at Clos Lucé on May 2, 1519.  He left his money, paintings, tools, library, and personal effects to his long-time best friend Francesco Melzi, and his vinyards to his servant Salai.  Da Vinci was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in Château d'Amboise, in France.

While da Vinci did not produce any genetic heirs, his legacy lives through his extraordinary works of art, architecture, and engineering and countless devoted followers.  Despite the recent realization and admiration of his scientific and engineering skills, the artist has been famed for over 500 years for his artistic achievements.  Da Vinci’s work is unique in its innovative painting technique and anatomic, light, and geologic precision – qualities much discussed and imitated by students and critics over the years ( 

Despite the acclaim for his paintings, da Vinci was not a prolific painter.  Instead, he preferred to sketch, keeping journals full of small sketches and detailed drawings of things that caught his eye.  His earliest dated drawing is the Landscape of the Arno Valley, created in 1497, which depicts Montelupo Castle and the surrounding river, mountains, and farmland.  Among his famous drawings is the Vitruvian Man, depicting the detailed anatomy of a human man in two superimposed positions within a circle and a square.  The drawing exemplifies da Vinci’s interest in anatomy and science, based on the “ideal human proportions,” as described by Roman architect Vitruvius in De Architectura.  Many other drawings portrayed exaggerated faces, often contrasted with that of a warrior. 

In addition to his artistic works, da Vinci has countless inventive achievements, which he recorded in over 13,000 pages of notes and drawings.  These notes consisted of everything from menial observations to anatomical discussions to designs for wings or shoes for walking on water.  His interest and expertise in human anatomy stemmed from his time with Verrocchio, where we was given permission to dissect human corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.  From these dissections, he created over 240 detailed drawing for the treatise on anatomy.  In terms of engineering feats, da Vinci both developed practical solutions to problems in Italy and imagined new inventions for the future.  While in Venice, he devised a system of moveable barricades to protect the city from attack and created a way to divert the flow of the Arno River.  Meanwhile, he filled his journal with imaginative ideas for new musical instruments, flying machines, and mechanical knights.  In 2003, a British television station aired a documentary where they constructed and tested several of da Vinci’s designs – some of which proved to be a success while others failed.

Between world-renowned paintings, sketches, and engineering feats far more advanced than his time, Leonardo di Vinci truly embodied the ideals of the “Renaissance man,” with an appreciation and understanding of both art and science.  His fame began during his lifetime and has not diminished since.  The continued admiration of da Vinci from painters, scientists, and historians is reflected in the countless tributes to the artist, including written works, television documentaries, and critiques of his creations.  This admiration continues to draw hundreds of thousands of people to view his works every year and will continue to for the foreseeable future (


Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy on May 3, 1469. He was famous for his works and creative mind during the famous Renaissance period. Machiavelli can be called a Florentine diplomat, historian, philosopher, politician, writer, and humanist. For several years he served as an official in the Florentine Republic. His duties were in military and diplomatic affairs. Through his experience and writings, he is considered the founder of modern day political science and political ethics. Beyond politics, he wrote poetry, comedies, and even carnival songs. Lastly, when the powerful Medici family were out of power, Machiavelli served as the Secretary to the Second Chancery of Republic of Florence from 14998 to 1512. He wrote what many consider his masterpiece, “The Prince,” after Medici retook power and he no longer worked for the Republic.

Niccolò was the third child, but first son of Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. At the time of his birth, all was not well in Italy. Popes warred against Italian city-states. The rest of Europe was also tumultuous. People of power, leaders, and whole cities rose and fell in France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and Switzerland as all were battling for control and valuable regional influence. Military and political alliances were also unstable as mercenary leaders gained a reputation for lack of loyalty; many would switch sides without warning. This led to the rise and fall of many governments with very short lifespans (

Growing up, Machiavelli was well taught. He learned traditional Latin, rhetoric, and grammar. Surrounded by influential people, he was afforded an opportunity. In 1494, the Medici family lost its power after ruling Florence for sixty years. Machiavelli seized an appointment to work in the office of the second chancery. This was a medieval writing office. Machiavelli was in charge of the production of official Florentine government documents. Soon, he was promoted to the secretary of the Dieci di Libertà e Pace, where carried out diplomatic missions. His political career was beginning.

While working in 1502-3, he witnessed the harsh truths of the state-building methods of Cesare Borgia and his father, Pope Alexander VI. The two, at the time, were concentrating on controlling a large part of central Italy. One major justification they used was that their actions upheld Church interests. Topics like these that occurred throughout Machiavelli’s lifetime would influence his later writings.

 For three years (1503-6), the Florentine militia was under Machiavelli’s control. Because he distrusted mercenaries, he staffed his army with citizens. Though controversial at the time, this method proved to be successful. Yet, eventually he was beaten and the Medici rose again. Florence was abandoned by its leaders. This event would also greatly influence his future political works.

 In 1512, the Medici stripped him of his title and the next year, had him imprisoned, accusing him of conspiracy against the family. After three weeks and rope torture, he was released after he repeatedly denied his involvement (

 Machiavelli then retired to his estate and devoted himself to study. He studied politics and philosophy. His writings during this time earned him his fame for the intellectual contributions to and development of political conduct and political philosophy. Writing was not social enough. He joined intellectual groups and wrote plays. These were widely received, popular, and well liked. Yet, politics was his true calling. He remained in contact with politically connected friends.

 He never returned to politics with a formal title. He passed away in 1527 at age 58. He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence. An epitaph inscribed in Latin on his monument reads, “So great a name has no adequate praise.” This is true. We are still talking about Machiavelli and praising his political genius.

 His most famous work is titled, “Il Principe” or in English, “The Prince”. It mainly discusses politics, but does center around the more traditional subject of a hereditary prince and the possibility of a “new prince.” The hereditary prince and new prince face different challenges while ruling. The hereditary prince has to please people and maintain the status quo. Whereas the new prince has a newer and more difficult challenge: he must establish himself and build a solid political framework. Also throughout the book, Machiavelli asserted that the social benefits of stability and security could be achieved in the face of moral corruption. A further, more refined concept he drafted was the idea that personal and public morality were two different things for every individual and that a good ruler must understand this. He hypothesized that a good ruler must try to protect his reputation, but also must recognize instances where is for the best interest were he to be immoral on select occasions. He also wrote that a ruler need to be able to exercise brute force or deceit if he sees an attempt on his power. A prince must be able to disable powerful families in order to protect his throne (

 From this work and many of his others, the idea of “Machiavellianism” was born. It can be defined as the use of cunning and deceit in political situations. The viewpoint is characterized negatively for being cynical and pragmatic towards mortality. Just after “The Prince” was published, a plague was said to have hit northern Europe in the 16th century. This plague was Machiavellianism. St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572 in Paris was attributed to Machiavellianism. However, modern day opinion of this is unclear. There is little research to support that the French had studied Machiavelli’s writing extensively prior to 1572.

 Psychologically, Machiavellianism is a term some social and personality psychologists use. It describes a person’s tendency to be unemotional/able to detach themselves from conventional morality. This may lead to the ability to deceive and manipulate others. In fact, a “Machiavelli Test” was invented in 1960 by Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis. It was a twenty question personality survey. Someone scoring high on Machiavellianism will not think that most people are good and kind. They would be more likely to think of never trusting/confiding in anyone unless it directly benefits you. Using this test, it was found that males are slightly more Machiavellian than females. Nevertheless, this test is still being used today by clinical psychologists to better help patients.

 Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli undoubtedly helped shape the history of his time. An intelligent man, his works and life are still highly relevant today. Without his theories, our world may not be the same. The great thinkers of the Renaissance were world leaders who still have a profound effect on our present (


Michelangelo, formally known as Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet and engineer during the Renaissance period.  He was one of the main influences of the development of Western art.  Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest artists of his lifetime, if not all time, creating some of the most famous art pieces in history.  Michelangelo was born on March sixth in 1475 in Capers, Italy, although he was raised in Florence, Italy.  For the most part, Michelangelo was raised by his father, his mother past away when he was six.  In the late 1480s, Michelangelo was sent to school in Florence to study because Michelangelo’s father did not approve of a career in art.  However, he had no interest in learning, and preferred painting.  At the age of thirteen Michelangelo’s father agreed to apprentice him.  This meant he would study under an artist.  During this time, Michelangelo was introduced to the famous Italian technique of fresco.  Fresco is a technique of mural painting that is done on freshly-laid or wet limestone. The painting ultimately becomes a part of the wall.

At this time, Michelangelo began studying under Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was famous for his murals.  Michelangelo studied under Ghirlandaio for about a year, and learned a lot.  His talent grew the attention from Lorenzo de’Medici, and soon after Michelangelo had the opportunity to move into the Palace of Florentine, ruled by the Medici Family, where he studied sculpting in the Medici gardens.  The time at the palace allowed Michelangelo to flourish in terms of his artistic talent.  However after the death of the Lorenzo the Magnificent, Michelangelo fled to Bologna, where he continued to study art.  He returned back to Florence in 1495, and began his work as a sculptor.  At this time, Michelangelo created his “Cupid” structure that was artificially aged to resemble a rare antique.  Some say he aged the statue to achieve patina, and other say he buried the sculpture to age the statue.  The Cardinal of San Giorgio bought the Cupid sculpture but demanded his money back after he realized he had been played.  However, the Cardinal still enjoyed Michelangelo’s work so much he invited him to move to Rome to work under him (

By 1948, Michelangelo moved to Rome to work under Cardinal Riario.   However, The French Cardinal, Jean de Billheres, who was a representative of France living in Rome, requested that Michelangelo created a substantial statue depicting a draped Virgin Mary with her dead son, Jesus resting in her arms, called a Pieta.  He requested that the Pieta was to be the most beautiful work of marble in all of Rome. The sculpture was carved from a single piece of Carrara marble and depicted movement and compassion.  Pieta was finished in less than a year and is six feet wide and tall.  This sculpture was one of the most well-known works created by Michelangelo.  The statue started off in the church and moved four times since, and now can be viewed by visitors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

After this, Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1501.  At the time he was only twenty-six years old, but was recognized as the most famous and highest paid artists of the time period.  At this time, Michelangelo was commissioned to finish the statue of David, which would be displayed in Florence’s famous Duomo, The Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore.  The statue was started by two artists and never finished, so Michelangelo took over.  The sculpture is seventeen feet tall made of marble.  Today, it is displayed in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, where visitors line up to see the amazing sculpture.  This sculpture is considered a representative of Florentine art (

In 1508, Pope Julius II requested that Michelangelo switched from sculpting to painting and move to Rome where the Pope commissioned Michelangelo to the ambitious project of painting the twelve apostles on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The project took Michelangelo a total of four years and is considered one of the most highly regarded pieces of art during the High Italian Renissance Art.  Throughout his time, he fired his assistants and was forced to work on the project alone.  In order to effectively finish the painting, Michelangelo crafted his own scaffold, which was a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall near the top of the windows, rather than being built up from the floor.  The painting technique used was fresco.  The original idea of the twelve apostles transformed into an arrangement of over three hundred figures on the ceiling and is extremely intricate and detailed.  Today, the famous painted ceiling attracts visitors from all over the world.


In 1541, Michelangelo unveiled his “Last Judgment” which was the renaissance’s largest fresco.  It was painted on the far wall of the Sistine Chapel.  Michelangelo received a lot of backfire for this fresco.  The people said the nude figures were too inappropriate for such a holy place.  They called for destruction.  Even though Michelangelo was one of the most talented, famous and powerful Italian renaissance artists, he had his share of critics.  Michelangelo had a very argumentative personality and a quick temper (

Michelangelo continued to paint and sculpt, but in the later years of his life, he focused on architecture.  He worked on the tomb of Julius II, as well as the interior of the Medici Chapel in Florence, designing things like wall designs, windows and other forms interior decorating.  Michelangelo also designed the iconic dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, however, the completion of the dome came after his death.  After focusing on architecture, Michelangelo switched his focus to poem.  He wrote upwards of three hundred poems, featuring themes of love and faith.  Michelangelo was never married but was committed to Vittoria Colonna, who was the subject of many of his love poems.  She died in 1547.  Michelangelo had a strong relationship with Tommaso de’Cavalieri.  There was a lot of talk whether this relationship was homosexual or a paternal relationship, but this is still unknown today.

After a brief illness, Michelangelo died in February 1564, at the age of eighty-eight, weeks before his eighty-ninth birthday.  He died at his home in Rome. He was buried in the Basilica di Santa Croce, in Florence.  Currently, tourists can go visit Michelanglo’s tomb inside the church. Unlike many famous artists, Michelangelo achieved his fame and fortune during his lifetime.  He had the honor of seeing two of his biographies written before his death.  Today, Michelangelo is still recognized and highly regarded as one of the greatest artists, of all time, especially in terms of Italian Renaissance art (

Raphael was born as Raffaello Sanzio on April 6, 1483 in Urbino, Italy. He was a famous Italian painter and architect of the renaissance period. As his work was very admired for its ease of composition, visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur, and his clarity of form. Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael formed the traditional trinity of great masters during that time period. The city of Urbino at the time was the cultural center that encouraged the Arts. Young Raphael was taught the basic painting techniques by his father Giovanni Santi. Giovanni also exposed him to the principles of humanistic philosophy at the Duke of Urbino’s court, where Giovanni himself was a painter for the Duke of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro. At the age of 11, Giovanni died and Raphael took over managing his father’s workshop. Quickly, Raphael was soon considered one of the finest painters in town as he really surpassed his father. As a teenager, young Raphael was paid to paint for the Church of San Nicola in Castello, the neighboring town. In 1500, Raphael was invited to become an apprentice in Perugia, in the Umbria region of central Italy for the master painter Pietro Vannunci, also known as Perugino. Perugino was in Perugia working on rescoes at the Collegio del Cambia. Raphael was with Perugino for 4 years which further developed his knowledge and hands-on experience. Also during this period, he developed a unique painting style which can be easily seen in Mond Crucifixion (1502), The Three Graces (1503), The Knight’s Dream (1504), and Marriage of the Virgin (1504) (Raphael The Complete Works).

After Raphael left his apprenticeship with Perugino, he moved to Florence in 1504. This was where he became heavily influenced by the works of various Italian painters like Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolommeo, Masaccio, and Michelangelo. Raphael believed that these artists had skills far beyond his, so he closely studied the details of their work. This helped him develop an even more sophisticated personal style, unlike his earlier paintings. Raphael produced a series of “Madonnas” in 1504-1507 which extrapolated Leonardo da Vinci’s works. His work thrived in 1507 in his painting La Belle jardine and in the same year his most determined piece, the Entombment was created in Florence. In 1508, he moved to Rome and painted the Vatican "Stanze" ("Room"), under Pope Julius II’s assistance. Then from 1509-1511, he worked really hard become one of the Italian High Renaissance’s most highly regarded fresco cycles. These are all located in the Vatican's Stanza della Segnatura ("Room of the Signatura") as the collection includes The Triumph of Religion and The School of Athens. In the next few years, he would go on to paint for additional fresco cycle for the Vatican located in the Stanza d'Eliodoro ("Room of Heliodorus"). Which also included in this collection The Miracle of Bolsena, The Expulsion of Heliodorus, The Liberation of Saint Peter, and The Repulse of Attila from Rome. At the same time, he also produced a series of "Madonna" paintings as these included the famous Sistine Madonna and Madonna of the Chair (Raphael Biography).

Raphael achieved fame for his masterpiece in the Vatican by 1514 which allowed him to hire a crew of assistants to help him finish painting frescoes in the Stanza dell’Incendio. Though Raphael continued painting for money, including The Transfiguration (1517), his largest painting on canvas, he also began working on architecture. The Transfiguration would also become his last masterpiece as it was unfinished at the time upon his death. As the piece would eventually be completed by his assistant Giulio Romano, as the piece now hangs in the Vatican. His first architectural work was designing the church of Sant’Eligio degli Orefici. He was chosen by the pope to work alongside Donato Bramante on the basilica of St. Peter’s. The pope then hired him to become his chief architect in 1514 when architect Donato Bramante died. Raphael also later designed Rome’s Santa Maria del Popolo Chapel (Web Gallery of Art).

Raphael lifestyle was rather plain. He lived in the Palazzo Caprini in the Borgo, a palace designed by Barmante. He was engaged once in 1514 to Maria Bibbiena, Cardinal Medici Bibbiena's niece, but he was never married. He was said to have many affairs, but a real permanent fixture in his lifestyle was La Fornarina, Margherita Luti, daughter of Francesco Luti from Siena who lived at Via del Governo Vecchio. He was given the status at court and additional income from the Pope when he was made a “Groom of the Chamber” and a knight of the Papal Order of the Golden Spur (Raphael the Complete Works).

Raphael was extremely productive from running a large workshop and leaving a great amount of masterpieces behind after his death. At the age of 37, Raphael died on April 6, 1520 in Rome, Italy. It was said that Raphael’s premature death was on a Good Friday, was caused by excessive sex with Luti. It was believed that he had a fever and did not tell his doctors that were the cause so the doctors gave him the wrong form of cure that eventually killed him. His illness lasted 15 days and as he knew he was dying, he let assets for his trusted servant Baviera, and mistress’s care. He also left more of his studio equipment to Penni and Giulio Romano. His death was still really sudden and very unexpected as he was just working on The Transfiguration at the time of his death. The funeral was held at the Vatican with the unfinished Transfiguration next to his coffin stand. His body was buried at the Pantheon upon his request in Rome, Italy (Encyclopedia Britannica).


Titian Vecelli (Tiziano Vecellio) was a prominent Italian painter during the renaissance era. He was born in Pieve de Cadore, Republic of Venice (Italy) near the Dolomite Mountains; around the year 1490. His parents were Gregorio Vecelli and Lucia Vecelli. He was the eldest of the four children. His father managed the local mines and the castle of Pieve de Cadore. Additionally, his father was an acclaimed councilor and soldier. When Titian was nine years old, he and his brother, Francesco, set out to live with their uncle to apprentice under Sebastiano Zuccato, a well-known mosaic master. Later on, Titian began to work with Giovanni Bellini, who was the greatest painter from Venice of that time period. Giovanni was seen as one of the leading artist in the city during the time. Soon after, Titian became an assistant of Giorgio da Castelfranco (Giorgione), who was also an apprentice to Giovanni Bellini. (

People and critics started to realize Titian’s talent in painting. While working with Giorgione, Titian had learnt to paint in Giorgione style; it was well known for the elusive poetic quality of painting. However, many critics thought that Titian’s works were impressive than Giorgione. In 1508, Titian and Giorgione both collaborated on the exterior fresco wall design of the “Fondaco dei Tedeschi” (German’s Merchant Exchange) in Venice. Their styles were so similar that it was almost indistinguishable to tell the difference in work between them. The two of them were considered to be the leaders in the new art school “Arte Moderna”. Their artistic interpretations of paintings were more flexible; in that they were freer than the symmetric and hieratic style of Giovanni Bellini. Later he had moved on to more complex subjects and tried to paint in monumental style. After Giorgione died in 1510, Titian was left unrivaled and had become the greatest painter in Venice. For a while, he continued to paint in the Giorgione style; but eventually developed his own style. (

In 1511, he got his first major independent commissions from the Scuola del Santo (Confraternity of St. Anthony) and Carmelite Church in Padua. These frescos were called Meeting at the Golden Gate, the Murder of a Young Woman by her Husband, A child Testifying to its Mother’s Innocence, the Saint Healing the Young Man with the Broken Limb, and three scenes from the life of St. Anthony of Padua. This showed that he was really adept in portraits, landscapes, and religious subjects. (Wikipedia)

In 1516, he completed a masterpiece called "Assumption of Virgin", for the church Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. This is a large oil painting. It describes and celebrates the rising of Mary to heaven after her death. This represents that Mary will live her life eternally. This indicates the difference between Christian and Catholic because Christian emphasizes more on Jesus instead of Mary. Here Jesus carried Mary up to heaven. The golden background shows the distinguishing feature of traditional Venetian mosaics. The painting shows three layers of world. The lowest layer is Apostle, the believers of Jesus. The second layer is Mary being carried. The third layer is god looking over the earth. This piece made him the most renowned artist in all of Venice and brought him enough fame and glory to be remembered through the Renaissance. (Wikipedia)

After finishing a legendary art piece, he initiated and created "The Worship of Venus" in 1518. This complicated and colorful artwork includes many messages, such as love, regeneration of nature and human, fertility and more. He created this painting with the notion of Greek mythology. This painting is mainly to honor the Greek goddess, Venus. Venus is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, victory and fertility. There are two females trying to reach the statue of Venus on the right side of painting. The children are considered as the cupids. They are the children of the two females. These cupids are playing and expressing love in the middle. Back to the days, women would bring offerings to Venus for purification of their bodies, minds and spirits. (totallyhistory)

After that, Titian started painting portraits for leading figures back in the days. Two of his famous portrait paintings were Pope Paul III and Charles V. “Pope Paul III and His Grandsons” is one of the most famous Renaissance oil paintings. Titian painted it during his visit to Rome in 1545 and 1546. He had portrayed the authoritative relationships between Pope and his grandsons, Ottavio and Alessandro. Ottative was bowing on the right of the painting while Alessandro was standing upright behind the Pope. During that time, Charles V had a military advantage over Pope and was weakening his papacy. In 1548, Titian painted Charles V’s portrait. In the painting, you can see Charles sitting on a chair, facing to the left. He was wearing dark robes and a hat. The background is a combination of gold wall on the left, landscape outside of the window on the right and red carpet in the bottom. (Wikipedia)

In the early 1520s, Titian brought a woman named Cecilia to his home in Venice. He married her in 1525 and had four children with her; two sons and two daughters. However, one daughter died in infancy. His first son named Pomponio became a priest and his second son Orazio became a painter, but later became Titian’s chief assistant. After Cecilia died in 1530, Titian was so overcome with grief and decided to never remarry. (Wikipedia)

During the last twenty-five years of Titian’s life, Titian worked mostly for Philip II. It was during this period that Titian was revising his painting style to become more free and abstract. This is shown in his works, “The Death of Actaeon” and “Pietà”. The story of Actaeon was written in the third book of the Latin poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. There was a hunter called Actaeon. One day, he was tired from hunting, so he had went into a valley. In the valley, he saw Diana standing in spring and taking a bath. Diana splashed some water in Actaeon’s face and said some words. Actaeon turned into a stag immediately. Actaeon was then chased and killed by his hound. Titian intended to show the fundamental moralities of life and female nudity through this tragic painting. Titian died from the plague in August 27, 1576 and was buried in the church Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, where he painted his most famous masterpiece. (

Italian Renaissance really mapped out the future for many artists as it was a really important timeframe for arts. The paper really only gave a glance of the lives of a few popular artists during that timeframe as there are many more out there. Each member of the group chose an artist and wrote a brief biography on the artist lives’. Each artist had a different taste in their works in the arts and really each developed a personal style that changed mankind. Most of the artist were very focused on their work and didn’t have much of a personal life, as many died fairly young compared to today’s age. Again the Italian Renaissance was really important for human culture and paved way for many inspirations for today’s society.  





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