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.





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


Quarrying marble - Carrara, Toscana, Italia
Cracks, picks, polish—and teeth. Sounds like dentistry, but the pearly whites here are blocks of Carrara marble.

Quarrying and carving marble





Leonardo: Anatomist
Human cadavers and dead cows—Leonardo dissected both. He kept his notes private, but paintings betrayed this work.

Leonardo: Anatomist