A-level: Renaissance in Italy—Religious paintings in Florence + Rome + Venice

videos + essays

Andrea Mantegna, <em>Dead Christ</em>
Andrea Mantegna, Dead Christ

Mantegna was fascinated by perspective. His radical foreshortening and realism focus attention on Christ’s wounds.

Fra Angelico, <em>The Annunciation</em>
Fra Angelico, The Annunciation

The life-sized figures of Mary and Gabriel occupy an open porch—a space not unlike the cloisters of San Marco.

Carlo Crivelli, <em>The Annunciation with Saint Emidius</em>
Carlo Crivelli, The Annunciation with Saint Emidius

What are Persian carpets, a peacock, and a cucumber doing in a painting of The Annunciation?

Masaccio, <em>Holy Trinity</em>
Masaccio, Holy Trinity

This painting blends deep piety with scientific observation. Both its architecture and figures were radically new.

Gentile da Fabriano, <em>Adoration of the Magi</em> (reframed)
Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi (reframed)

Brilliant golden brocades. Psuedo-Arabic. Turbans. Leopards and lions. The Adoration of the Magi speaks to the global flow of goods at this time.

Dissecting Botticelli’s <em>Adoration of the Magi</em>
Dissecting Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi

Three men arrive to bless Christ. Are they wise—or just rich? Better defer to that young painter in the crowd...

Jacopo Tintoretto, <em>The Finding of the Body of Saint Mark</em>
Jacopo Tintoretto, The Finding of the Body of Saint Mark

As it recesses, Tintoretto’s strange space collapses time. No wonder Saint Mark multiplies.

Andrea Mantegna, <em>San Zeno Altarpiece</em>
Andrea Mantegna, San Zeno Altarpiece

Now in Technicolor! Mantegna’s saturated paint and vivid illusionism bring the Court of Heaven to life.

Titian and Jacopo Palma il Giovane, <em>Pietà</em>
Titian and Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Pietà

This personal image was destined for Titian’s tomb, but he may also appear in it as St. Jerome.

Jacopo Tintoretto, <em>Last Supper</em>
Jacopo Tintoretto, Last Supper

Here, everything is askew. Form dissolves as Tintoretto unites Florentine line with Venetian color.

Michelangelo, Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo, Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

An ambitious ceiling made by a celebrated artist for the Sistine Chapel

Giovanni Bellini, <em>San Zaccaria Altarpiece</em>
Giovanni Bellini, San Zaccaria Altarpiece

Bellini opens up this painting’s space, but holds the viewer at bay. The mood is calm, solemn, and contemplative.