1.3.2.1 – High Renaissance A (1481-1504)

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Adoration of the Magi, Da Vinci
Birth of Venus, Botticelli
Virgin of the Rocks, Da Vinci
Birth of Venus, Piero della Francesca
Cestello Annunciation, Botticelli
Old Man and Grandson, Ghirlandaio
Lady with Ermine, Da Vinci
Vitruvian Man, Da Vinci
Madonna Litta, Da Vinci
Last Supper, The – Da Vinci
Oriental Ruler, Dürer

Pieta, Michelangelo
Apocalypse, Dürer
Burlington House Cartoon, Da Vinci
Lady and Unicorn, unknown
David, Michelangelo
Mona Lisa, Da Vinci
Madonna and Child, Raphael
Battaglia di Cascina, Michelangelo
Marriage of the Virgin, Raphael
Madonna and Child, Raphael
Codex Leicester, Da Vinci
Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk (Self-portrait?), Da Vinci

The High Renaissance is a term that was subsequently coined to denote the artistic pinnacle of the Renaissance. It refers to a thirty-year period exemplified by the groundbreaking, iconic works of art being made in Italy during what was considered a thriving societal prime. A rejuvenation of classical art married with a deep investigation into the humanities spurred artists of unparalleled mastery whose creations were informed by a keen knowledge of science, anatomy, and architecture, and remain today, some of the most awe-inspiring works of excellence in the historical art canon.

[Source: theartstory.com]

[1321-10]


Image source: italy magazine.com
In 1481 Da Vinci was commissioned by Augustinian monks to produce The Adoration of the Magi. However, he left for Milan the next year, leaving it unfinished. The Uffizi Gallery has held the artwork since 1670, it undertook a six-year restoration, which was completed in 2017. This image is post-restoration. This is Leonardo’s largest surviving panel.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Adoration of the Magi, The1481Charcoal/Watercolour/Oil/WoodHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-11]

Uffizi Gallery,  Florence Italy246 x 243  

Image source: wikimedia commons
It is suggested that the Birth of Venus (Nascita di Venere) was commissioned by the Medici family, and is Botticelli’s first major modern work. Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), the artist, architect and writer, who encountered the work at the Medici’s Villa di Castello, where it ws shown alongside Botticelli’s Primavera. There is some confusion about the dates, as Botticelli left for Rome in 1481 to cooperate in the Sistine Chapel painting. The experts also argue about the inspiration, several suggesting it is Neoplatonic, with later sources proposing the two works are wedding pictures. Still others reference the Classical Venus of Modesty as an inspiration. Imagery from the work has been used by Adobe for their Illustrator pack and software. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have used the theme in music videos.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Birth of Venus, The1482-6Oil/CnvHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Botticelli, Sandro1445-1510, aged 65Italian painter FlorenceHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-12]

Uffizi Gallery,  Florence Italy172 x 278  
The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, who managed a chapel beside San Francesco Grande in Milan, commissioned Da Vinci (with Francesco Zavattari and Giorgio della Chiesa) to decorate the vault of their chapel. Two other paintings of angels playing musical instruments were commissioned to complete the altarpiece. These were produced by students of Da Vinci in the 1490s, these are on show at the National Gallery, London.
The Virgin of the Rocks (aka The Madonna of the Rocks) is the title of two similar sized paintings, with several differences. This one in the Louvre and the other in London’s National Gallery. Both were painted on panels, the Louvre version has been transferred to canvas. The composition has Mary and Jesus joined by an infant John the Baptist and the angel Uriel. It uses sfumato, a technique for softening or hazing tones and colours, emulating areas outside our eyes’ focal areas.

Image source: wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Virgin of the Rocks, The1483-6Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-14]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France190 x 122  

Image source: wikimedia commons
Commission by Benedetto di Ser Giovanni Guardi the work was intended for a local monastery, Cestello (today it is Santa Maria Maddalena de’Pazzi). Oil paints were not available so instead Botticelli used tempera, where the pigment is suspended in a material, often egg. This process was quick-drying and prompted different constraints on the painter. This also added an unpleasant smell, so artists often added fragrances to the mix.
Botticelli also painted the subject in 1485 (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY USA) and in 1496-1500 (at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow UK).
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
The Annunication – aka Cestello Annunication1489-90Tempera/PanelHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Botticelli, Sandro1445-1510, aged 65Italian painter FlorenceHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-15]

Borgo Pinti, 58, 50121 Florence FI, Italy150 x 156  
Ritratto di vecchio con nipote is acclaimed as providing the most realism of the quattrocento, literally 400 and used to mean the years 1400-1499; it is Ghirlandaio’s best-known work. A cross-generational and affectionate moment. When the Louvre acquired it in 1800 it had been over-cleaned and there were scratches across the work, these were remedied by retouching in 1996. The same sitter, perhaps rhinophyma explains his nose deformities, was the subject of Head of an Old Man c1490. It is unclear if he was asleep or if it was intended as a death mask.
Image source: wikimedia commons

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Portrait of an Old Man with His Grandson1490Tempera/PoplarPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Ghirlandaio, Domenico 1448-1494, aged 45Italian painter FlorenceHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-16]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France63 x 46  

Image source: wikimedia commons
The lady in the work is Cecilia Gallerani, mistress to the Duke of Milan, Lodovico Sforza; Da Vinci’s sponsor. There is evidence of heavy over-painting and an x-ray reveals a door in the background. In 1800 Prince Adam Czartoryski, a Polish nobleman bought the picture for his mother; he was later a hero of Polish independance. His mother founded the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków, where the painting is today. However, it was she who, disliking the blue background, had it painted black. Stolen in WWII it ws recovered with a footprint on the image, dramatically described as that of an SS soldier.

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lady with the Ermine, The1489-90Oil/WalnutPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-17]

Czartoryski Museum, Kraków, Poland54 x 39  
This drawing has become a worldwide icon. The notes on the page discuss the works of the Roman architect, Vitruvius Pollio, hence Vitruvian Man aka the Canon of Proportions. The two superimposed images of man are placed in a circle and a square, implying perhaps a universal design in microcosm. Da Vinci’s limb proportions are not those of Vitruvius but instead from his own measurements of male models – and corpses? It was only late in the 19th century that the image was widely distributed, so it is unlikely it influenced the proportions applied by Da Vinci’s contemporaries. Being ink on paper the original is lightly shown, but in 2019/20 it was shown at the Louvre.
Image: leonarddavinci.net
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Vitruvian Man – The proportions of the human body according to Vitruviusc1490Pen/ink/paperSketch
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-18]

Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice Italy35 x 26  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
In the nineteenth-century the painting was owned by the noble Litta family of Milan, hence the name. In 1865 Tsar Alexander II acquired it for the Hermitage, where it was transferred from wood to canvas. It is an example of Madonna lactans, with Mary nursing or breast-feeding her infant.
It is not clear that this is a Da Vinci, though there is a linked sketch in the Codex Vallardi,

so it is believed he played a role in the work, but perhaps only the Madonna’s head. Many assume, given its awkward composition, that it was his pupil Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio who did the rest, under Leonardo’s supervision.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Madonna Litta1480-1490Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo /Giovanni Boltraffio1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-19]

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Russia42 x 33  
This was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. It is based on St John, 13:21 when Jesus reveals that one of his disciples will betray him. Each character has a different reaction to the news.
Da Vinci experimented with tempera and oil paint on plaster, and began fading soon after it was completed. In 1652 a doorway was cut through the wall – this removed Christ’s feet!
In 1515-20, Leonardo’s pupils (Boltraffio and Giampietrino) created a copy in oil on canvas and that has survived. It was used when the original was restored from 1979-99.

Image source: somagnews.com
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Last Supper, The1494-1498Oil/Tempera/Gesso/Mastic/PitchHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-20]

Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Italy460 x 880  

Image source: wikimedia commons
Dürer was a leading artist of the Renaissance, In his etchings and woodcarvings he raised the perception of printmaking from a craft to fine art. Like Da Vinci he focused on perspective and anatomical proportion to add realism. This pen and ink drawing has intense detail in terms of clothing and jewellery. Symbolically the hands grasp a small orb and sword. Dürer was appointed court artist for Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Oriental Ruler Seated on His Throne, An1495Pen and Ink on PaperPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Dürer, Albrecht1471-1528, aged 56German painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-21]

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA31 x 20  
A Pietà is an image of Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus. It is often called a Lamentation in paintings though these tend to contain additional characters. The depiction of a doleful Mary has three standards, the Pietà, the Mater Dolorosa (mother of sorrows) or Stabat Mater (here stands the mother). Michelagelo’s Mary is markedly youthful. When Michelangelo learned that many were attributing the work to another sculptor, so, uniqely for him, he signed it ‘Michelangelo Buonarroti the Florentine did it.’
Image source: wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Pietà1498-9MarbleSculpture
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Michelangelo Buonarroti1475-1564, aged 88Italian painter/sculptorHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-22]

Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City174 x 195  

Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA
This is one of fifteen woodcuts in Dürer’s The Apocalypse series. It graphically present the horsemen, Death, Famine, War (or Conquest), and Plague (or Pestilence), as described in Revelation 6:v1-8. Peculiar to use this mono medium when three of the horses are described by colour.
At the time Europe was poised, fearing the end of the world was coming in 1500, and more immediately expecting an invasion from the Ottoman Empire. This added real context to the piece. His skill is acclaimed for imbuing the sense of danger and pace into his illustration.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
The Apocalypse: The Four Horsemen1498Woodcut – pear woodHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Dürer, Albrecht1471-1528, aged 56German painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-23]

Various locations39 x 29  
The Burlington in the title was from the building of the Royal Academy, when it held it around the 1790s. The cartoon shows Mary and the baby Jesus, with St Anne (Mary’s mother) and the young St John the Baptist. The sketch is across eight pages of paper, glued together. This would normally presage a painting, but none is known to have used this material. A different painting of The Virgin and Child with St Anne, without John the Baptist, hangs in the Louvre.
Image source: National Gallery London
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Burlington House Cartoon1499-1500 (or 1506-8?)Charcoal and black and white chalk on paperPortrait/Cartoon
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-24]

National Gallery, London UK142 x 105  

Image source: wikimedia commons
From Flanders this is one of a series of six tapestries produced in the mille-feuille style (thousand flowers). It is considered to be one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages. The other five represent an allegory of the five human senses, this one is entitled enigmatically À mon seul désir, usually interpreted to imply courtly love.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lady and the Unicorn, The (six tapestries)1500Wool/silkTapestries
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Unknown  High Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-25]

Musée de Cluny, Paris France375 x 460 each  
This Renaissance masterpiece avoided the norm of showing David after Goliath’s defeat, usually including a grisly head. Here he is shown prior to the encounter, his face suggests he is contemplating his approach, the pebble in his right hand and the sling ready. It soon became a symbol for the Florentine Republic, threatened by powerful rivals, his eyes staring towards Rome. The sling on his left shoulder and the tree stump behind his right leg were originally gold-leafed.
The work was originally commissioned for a high perch, up at the roofline of the Duomo of Florence. Once completed it was decided to put it in the Piazza della Signoria, outside the Palazzo Vecchio where it could be admired closely. It was replaced there by a replca in 1873 when it moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
David1501-1504Carrara Marble from TuscanySculpture
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Michelangelo Buonarroti1475-1564, aged 88Italian painter/sculptorHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-26]

Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence Italy517 (h)  

Image source: sciencenews.org
This picture sets a copy of La Gioconda held by Madrid’s Prado Museum against the original in the Louvre. The Science News article discusses German researchers who suggest the copy was painted in Leonardo’s studio at the same time from a slightly different position, and the two images can be viewed as a stereoscopic image. Unlikely given that it is suggested it was painted between 1503-6 and that Leonardo continued working on the original until 1517.
Can any other picture have generated more column inches? John Lichfield in the Independent wrote ‘the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.’
It is claimed to be Lisa Gherardini, married to a nobleman. It was commissioned by her husband, silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, for their new home and/or to celebrate the birth of their second son – hence the alternative title, La Gioconda.
Da Vinci’s use of sfumato around the mouth and eyes brings more life to her face, and her eyes are fixed upon the viewet. Many suggest she is deliberately portrayed in the manner of Renaissance depictions of the Virgin Mary.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Mona Lisa1503-6Oil/PoplarPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-27]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France77 x 53  
This is one of two principal panels of an altarpiece commissioned for the small Franciscan convent of Sant’ Antonio in Perugia. It was to be placed in the chiesa iterna, an area used only by nuns, which determined for example that the baby Christ was clothed. In 1678, the nuns sold their masterpiece to the Cologna family. J Pierpont Morgan, the banker, bought it for a record sum in the 20th c.
The Madonna and child are on a throne with a canopy. The Madonna wears red to display her passion for Christ and a blue mantle to show she is the Queen of Heaven. Christ, dressed in white (purity) and violet (repentance) is blessing a young John the Baptist, and joined (left to right) by Saints Peter, Catherine, another female and Paul; Peter and Paul, of course, both being disciples. The second female is either St Barbara, St Helen or St Lucy. If it is Catherine then the two female saints are of royal birth. The lunette has God performing a blessing, flanked by two seraphims.

Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saintsc.1504Oil and gold on woodHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)1483-1520, aged 37Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-28]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA172 x 172  

Image source: wikimedia commons
Michelangelo was commissioned by a Florentine statesman. He had completed only the initial drawing when he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II to carry out work on his tomb. He did get back to Florence to complete the cartoon, but never started on the painting. A rival destroyed the cartoon in 1512.
The battle between Florence and Pisa began with a surprise Pisan attack, finding the Florentines bathing nude in the river Arno. Of course this interpretation allowed Michelangelo to indulge himself in drawing many anatomically detailed nude males.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Battaglia di Cascina (never completed)1504OllHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Michelangelo Buonarroti1475-1564, aged 88Italian painter/sculptorHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-29]

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Italy76 x 130  
Commissioned by the Albizzini family St Joseph chapel at San Francesco of the Minorities, in Città di Castello Umbria. The work was forcibly removed by a Napoleonic army officer and sold to an art dealer in Milan. Displayed in Milan’s main hospital for two years, in 1806 it was moved to the Pinacoteca di Brera.

Raphael was reportedly heavily influenced by Perugino’s Marriage of the Virgin (Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen) and Christ Delivering the Keys to St Peter (Sistine Chapel).

But he set out to show a better command of perspective. Infra-red inspection shows a series of lines of perspective converging on the temple door, along the lines (pun intended) prescribed by Piero della Francesca.

The temple is often compared with architect Donato Bramante’s 1502 Tempietto, set in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio, Lazio. The Church was commissioned by the ‘Catholic Monarchs’, Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, and is considered a masterpiece of High Renaissance architecture.

The central characters are arranged in a circle, Joseph is placing the ring on the Virgin’s finger and holds a symbolic flowering staff.
The Pinacoteca suggests that Raphael opined that an artist’s duty was ‘making things not as Nature makes them, but as Nature should.’

Image source: wga.hu
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Marriage of the Virgin, The (Sposalizio della Vergine)1504Oil/PanelHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)1483-1520, aged 37Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-30]

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan Italy170 x 118  

Image source: wikimedia commons
This is suggested to have been an early work and also Raphael’s last work in Umbria before moving to Florence; it is suggested by some as unfinished. It was acquired in 1871 by Tsar Alexander II from the Conestabile family (hence its alternative name), for his consort Maria Alexandrovna.
In 1881 when it was transferred to canvas it was discovered that the incongruous book, was originally a pomegranate, a symbol for the Passion. Interesting then that the Hermitage acclaims Raphael as the ‘genius of harmony‘.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Madonna and Child (aka The Madonna Conestabile )1504Tempera/Canvas – transferred from panelHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino)1483-1520, aged 37Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1321-31]

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Russia18 x 18  
Da Vinci compiled this Codex, a collection of scientific observations, between 1506 and 1513. This was during the period when he divided his time between Florence and Milan, a time when he enjoyed the protection of King Louis XII of France. The manuscript has a single topic, water. It looks at water in canals, locks and tunnels, against banks, dams and docks, as currents, waves and whirlpools… The Codex Leicester (aka the Hammer Codex) was named for the Earl of Leicseter who owned it in 1719. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates bought it for $30,802,500 in 1994. The manuscript is a fusion of art and science that illustrates Da Vinci’s enquiring endeavour and innovative mind.
Image source: hammercodex.com

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Codex Leicester (aka Codex Hammer)1506-13Manuscript Sketches
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  [1321-32]

Uffizi Gallery,  Florence, Italy   

Image source: wikimedia commons
The portrait is drawn in red chalk on paper. It depicts the head of an elderly man in three-quarter view, his face turned towards the viewer. The subject is distinguished by his long hair and long waving beard which flow over the shoulders and chest. The length of the hair and beard is uncommon in Renaissance portraits and suggests, as now, a person of sagacity.

It is widely, though not universally, accepted as a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. It is thought that Leonardo da Vinci drew this self-portrait at about the age of 60. The portrait has been extensively reproduced and has become an iconic representation of Leonardo as a polymath or ‘Renaissance Man’.

The inscription at the bottom of the portrait, added by a later hand, reads: ‘Leonardo da Vinci, portrait of himself as an old man. (Source: wikimedia commons)

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Portrait of a man in Red Chalkc1512Chalk/Paper Portrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
da Vinci, Leonardo1452-1519, aged 67Italian painterHigh Renaissance
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
Royal Library, Turin 33 x 22  

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