The Renaissance in Italy: 1500s

When you think of the Renaissance, the names that come to mind are probably the artists of this period (the High Renaissance): Leonardo and Michelangelo, for instance. And when you think of the greatest work of art in the western world, Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling might come to mind. This is a period of big, ambitious projects. Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling, Leonardo’s Last Supper, and Raphael’s Stanza frescos shape our understanding of Western culture even today.

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (detail), 1508-12, Vatican, Rome
He was mythologized by followers, emulated by artists, celebrated by humanists, and patronized by a total of nine popes.

Who was Michelangelo?

Raphael’s untimely death at the age of 37 while at the height of his visual powers only solidified the legend of his extraordinary talent.

Raphael, an introduction

Throughout Europe women’s relegation to the domestic sphere was rooted in Christian tradition that placed blame for humanity’s fall from grace upon Eve, the first woman.

Introduction to gender in renaissance Italy

Giorgione, The Tempest, c. 1506-8 (Accademia) - detail
In the distance, lightning strikes. What does it mean? Poetic and evocative, this painting invites interpretation.

Giorgione, The Tempest

In history classes, we often hear about renaissance men: Cosimo de’ Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, and Niccolò Machiavelli. Where were the women?

Renaissance woman: Isabella d’Este

After Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492, items from the Americas were shipped to Europe where they were perceived as exotic items of wonder and fascination.

The Medici collect the Americas

From military machines to playful cats, Leonardo’s extraordinary drawings capture his incessant curiosity.

Leonardo and his drawings

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait at the Easel, 1556, oil on canvas, 66 x 57 cm (Łańcut Castle)
Female painters were rare in sixteenth-century Italy. In self-portraits, Sofonisba made sure to appear virtuous.

Sofonisba Anguissola