The Renaissance, which means “Rebirth” is a period in Europe which started in the 14th century and lasted until the 17th. It started in Florence and marked a period of technological, philosophical and artistic advacements. After a period of cultural decline, some great and influential figures appeared to start a revolution of thought and literally transform the known world by then. Here are some personalities that influenced the Italian Renaissance.
1. The Medici
The Medicis were a very powerful family which had huge influence not only in Florence, but Italy in general. They comissioned many artists and thinkers of the period. During that time all artists and inventors were relying completely on patrons. Among other powerful families, the Medicis were the main force behind this remarkable era. With personalities like Cosimo Medici who sponsored artists like Donatello and opened workshops, or Lorenzo de’ Medici who patroned great names like Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo Buonarroti, the famous family was the engine of the remarkable era.
2. Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)
Giotto is the first artist to paint more realistic figures, rather than stylized artwork deriving from the Byzantine era. His focus on emotion and natural representation on human figures, is adopted by many artists that came after him. Scholars believe that Giotto is the most important painter of the 14th century. He has fairly won the title “Father of the Renaissance” for his innovative methods and great volume of frescoes and work.
For more information about Giotto di Bondone, his life and work, you can watch the video we prepared about him in our “History of Renaissance” series:
3. Michelangelo (1475–1564)
Michelangelo embodies the entire spirit of the Renaissance. He was a sculptor, an architect, poet, painter and engineer. His most massive work is the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Additionaly, his statue of David stood as a symbol of Florence and is still to this day a monument of the Italian Renaissance. His works are important for the development of art and influence artists to this day. Michelangelo has a legacy that puts him alongside the other giants of Florence.
4. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
When we talk about Rennaisance, we mostly think of Leonardo da Vinci. He is most probably the most famous personality from history of art in general. Da Vinci has been widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest minds, with extraordinary talents that included painting, mathematics, architecture, engineering, botany, sculpture, and human biology. As an artist he painted ‘The Last Supper’, ‘The Vitruvian Man’ and the world’s most famous painting, the “Mona Lisa”. He also invented workable precursors of a diving suit, a robot, and a tank – centuries before they became a reality. As a scientist, he designed a propelled machine, the first in history and wrote countless papers on his theories in engineering.
5. Raphael (1483-1520)
Raphael became famous for his mastery in depicting human emotions and clarity of form. His most famous work is “The School of Athens” in the Stanza della segnatura, in the Vatican Palace. It is also known as the Raphael Rooms. The Raphael Rooms, painted between 1509 and 1511, depicted the harmony and wisdom which Renaissance humanists perceived between Christian teaching and Greek philosophy. This impressive work as well as others are some of the cornerstones of Renaissance.
6. Donatello (1386-1466)
Donatello would become famous as the sculptor who brought back classical sculpture from antiquity. With it he also introduced new aesthetics which explored humanism and realism. Donatello was a prolific master of many mediums including stone, bronze, wood, stucco, clay, and wax. He was the first to illustrate the art of sculpture among the modern artists. His versatility and ingenuity would lay a foundation for many future sculptors looking to discover new possibilities in materiality. That would make him one of the personalities that Influenced the Italian Renaissance to the greatest extend.
We are really proud to have created a video about Donatello’s life and work, which you can find on the link below: