Central Italy

A new realism appears in the art of central Italy in the 15th century.

1400 - 1500 (Early Renaissance)

Beginner's guide

Learn about the suite of tools Italian Renaissance artists used to create an illusion of space, and a body that moves easily.

videos + essays

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Filippino Lippi’s <em>Madonna and Child</em>, an early image of enslaved people in renaissance Florence
Filippino Lippi’s Madonna and Child, an early image of enslaved people in renaissance Florence

A 15th-century Florentine painting tells us about the arrival of oil painting to the city, international trade, and slavery in the renaissance.

Gentile Bellini, <em>Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II</em>
Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II

Gentile Bellini's portrait of Mehmed II has been re-interpreted and understood many times since it was produced nearly 550 years ago.

Botticelli, <em>Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici</em>
Botticelli, Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici

Touch an artwork? Sandro Botticelli’s Portrait of a Man with a Medal helped viewers to think about touch and physical experience.

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?

Donatello, <em>Saint George</em>
Donatello, Saint George

A soldier saint in Renaissance Florence.

Do you speak Renaissance? Carlo Crivelli, <em>Madonna and Child</em>
Do you speak Renaissance? Carlo Crivelli, Madonna and Child

What do a cucumber, a fly, figures in turbans, and ancient reliefs tell us about the Madonna and Child?

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.

Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius): inventor of the modern book
Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius): inventor of the modern book

Printing and publishing in fifteenth century Venice, the Silicon Valley of its day

Contrapposto explained
Contrapposto explained

Don’t stand so straight! Relax. Shift your weight. Bend a knee. Just respond to the world, like this spear-bearer.

Donatello, <em>St. Mark</em>
Donatello, St. Mark

When the citizens of Florence looked up at St. Mark, they saw a mirror of their own dignity—and of ancient nobility.

Alberti, Façade of Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Alberti, Façade of Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Romanesque, Gothic, or ancient Greek? Whether you divide this façade by styles or squares, its stones come alive.

Selected Contributors