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Renaissance Paintings

Updated on May 4, 2015
James A Watkins profile image

James Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician and writer. James enjoys people, music, film, and books. He is a lifelong student of history.

Fine Arts

In this survey, I will present a dozen paintings that are among my favorites of those created by European artists during the five hundred year period preceding the emergence of Impressionism. In my previous (four) presentations about Art, I have displayed and discussed the Art I have in my home. That is why there is no Rembrandt here, because as my personal favorite, I have devoted an entire Hub Page just to him. I have covered all of my art by now, so I do not have any of these paintings—but they are on my wish list.

Giotto is the first painter to be considered a Renaissance artist, and one of the earliest artists in history to become well known by name. He was from Florence. He was hired to paint (Fresco) a family chapel in Padua, Italy, known as the Arena Chapel. Fresco is water-based colors painted onto a wet plaster wall. I am presenting just one scene I have chosen from this Fresco, titled Lamentation or The Mourning of Christ from 1305.

LAMENTATION BY GIOTTO 1305
LAMENTATION BY GIOTTO 1305
ARNOLFINI WEDDING PORTRAIT BY VAN EYCK 1434
ARNOLFINI WEDDING PORTRAIT BY VAN EYCK 1434

Renaissance Paintings

Jan van Eyck (1390-1441) was from the Netherlands (Burgundy at the time).   He is thought of as the father of oil painting, which is the use of pigments in walnut or linseed oil.   The painting above, which now hangs in the National Gallery in London,  was created by him and is known as  Arnolfini Wedding Portrait (1434). 

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) was a Florentine artist who primarily worked under the patronage of the Medici.  His paintings are well known for their linear grace and elegance.   In 1477, he was commissioned to paint the ten-foot-wide Primavera (Spring), which is below.  The original is housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

PRIMAVERA BY BOTTICELLI 1477
PRIMAVERA BY BOTTICELLI 1477
SELF-PORTRAIT BY DURER 1500
SELF-PORTRAIT BY DURER 1500

Art Paintings

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), from Nuremberg, Germany (Holy Roman Empire at the time), created the painting above, simply called Self-Portrait in 1500. It is displayed today in a museum in Munich. He is most famous as the master of woodcuts and engravings, and considered the finest artist of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. Inspired by the book "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis, it is believed he made himself look like Christ whom he hoped to represent in the world of his day.

Hieronymus Bosch (1453-1516) was from the Netherlands (Holland) and as we can see by his art below, obviously a man with a wild imagination. He was a very religious man and there is a lesson in there somewhere. This is the center piece of a triptych entitled "Garden of Earthly Delights" painted in 1510. It currently resides at the Prado in Madrid.

GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS BY BOSCH 1510
GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS BY BOSCH 1510
SISTINE MADONNA BY RAPHAEL 1513
SISTINE MADONNA BY RAPHAEL 1513

Famous Painting

Raphael (1483-1520) was from Urbino, Italy, and the son of a painter.  He is known as a child prodigy, a charming fellow, and a perfectionist in his work.  He was an innovator regarding movement and expression. The painting above (a small section of which has been widely used commercially) is "Sistine Madonna" (1513).  It can be seen at a museum in Dresden, Germany.

El Greco (1541-1614) was born in Crete but moved to Spain in his thirties, settling in Toledo.  He developed a unique style involving the distortion of form.  We are going to view a huge, spectacular painting, which is still where it was painted, in a church in Toledo.   It is called "The Burial of Count Orgaz" from 1586.  And here it is.

THE BURIAL OF COUNT ORGAZ BY EL GRECO 1586
THE BURIAL OF COUNT ORGAZ BY EL GRECO 1586
THE CALLING OF ST. MATTHEW BY CARAVAGGIO 1600
THE CALLING OF ST. MATTHEW BY CARAVAGGIO 1600

Fine Arts

Caravaggio (1571-1610) created the masterpiece above, "The Calling of St. Matthew" in 1600. This guy was a crazy, dangerous brawler. He was born in Milan, but as a young man moved to Rome (where he created this painting). The painting is still in a church in Rome today.

Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) was born in Seville, Spain, of Portuguese parentage, and is called the father of Spanish Art. Below is the splendid painting "The Drunks" from 1628 that is in the Prado in Madrid.

THE DRUNKS BY VELAZQUEZ 1628
THE DRUNKS BY VELAZQUEZ 1628
LANDSCAPE WITH A RAINBOW BY RUBENS 1636
LANDSCAPE WITH A RAINBOW BY RUBENS 1636

Renaissance Paintings

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was born in Germany to Flemish parents from Antwerp.  The beautiful painting he created above is "Landscape with a Rainbow" from 1636.  It lives in the Wallace Collection (Museum) in London. 

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was from Delft, the Netherlands.  Below is displayed the favorite painting of the artist himself, and one he kept himself until his death, "The Art of Painting" created in 1665.  Today, it may be seen in a museum in Vienna. 

THE ART OF PAINTING BY VERMEER 1665
THE ART OF PAINTING BY VERMEER 1665
WOMEN OF ALGIERS BY DELACROIX 1834
WOMEN OF ALGIERS BY DELACROIX 1834

MASTERPIECES

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) is generally considered the greatest French painter.  He created the last painting in this survey, featured above, "Women of Algiers" (1834).  The artist was from near Paris, and this colorful creation is in the Louvre in Paris.  

I do not pretend to be an art critic, or even know why some art moves me so.  But I know what I love when I see it; and I am passing along art I consider to be among the most beautiful pieces ever created, in the hopes that you will draw your own perceptions about these masterpieces, without any undue influence from me.  

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    • gusripper profile image

      gusripper 7 years ago

      BOSCH is the boss and EL GRECO next.....................i think

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 7 years ago from South Carolina

      Of these Albrecht Durer is my favorite.  I have a number of his artworks redone in the late 1800's on the Guttenberg press in Dresden, by Johann.   Most people don't realize that most of his works of art were carved in wood and pressed onto paper, rather than done originally on some sort of canvas.  Thanks for sharing that information.

      I appreciate the great art display and your impressions of this beautiful artwork along with information about the artists themselves.

    • chandanakumarct profile image

      chandanakumarct 7 years ago from Bangalore

      Excellent paintings. Raphael on THE BURIAL OF COUNT ORGAZ BY EL GRECO 1586 is very Nice.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 7 years ago from Philippines

      Awesome works of art. Thanks for sharing. Would like to see El Greco's works up close.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      gusripper— I cannot argue with your assessment. I love the Bosch, bizarre as it is. It is deep. Thanks for viewing and commenting.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      emohealer— You have some of his art!?  Wonderful!  I think that is the most incredible self portrait ever.  I actually have an artist, the mother of my friend who is a marvelous artist specializing in portraiture,  painting a copy for me. 

      You are welcome and thank you so much for your incisive comments. 

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      chandanakumarct — Thank you. Aren't they beautiful? Oh my. These paintings move my soul. I appreciate you leaving word.

    • HOOWANTSTONO profile image

      HOOWANTSTONO 7 years ago

      Very nicely put together, It is nice to see how artists see things and have the drive to take that picture in the mind and place it on the canvas.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I like Vermeer but Caravaggio floats my boat. The man comes through in his work. Great hub James. Thanks

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Melody Lagrimas— Me too! The beauty of painting overwhelms me. I also enjoy the beauty of music and sculpture. I am glad you came by and left your kind words.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      HOOWANTSTONO— It is amazing. I find it interesting to view these 12 as a series to see how painting evolved over 500 years. The Giotto may not look like much to modern eyes, but he started the whole ball rolling, so that's why I included him.

      Thanks for your keen thoughts.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      ethel smith— Thank you and you are welcome. Yes, Caravaggio and Vermeer might be the most incredible painters of all time. You know what strikes me? I am simply amazed at all of these pieces—I mean; how can a person start with a blank canvas and end up with this? Incredible!

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      These are all very nice paintings, James. I was fortunate enough to visit the Louvre to see some of these artists' works up close. Simply amazing for the times.

    • advisor4qb profile image

      advisor4qb 7 years ago from On New Footing

      Wow, James.  Yet another beautiful hub.  I am a big fan of Albrecht Durer and I have Botticelli's Primavera and the Birth of Venus prints on the wall of my office.  Van Eyck's painting gave me flashbacks of Humanities class! 

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 7 years ago from South Carolina

      I don't have originals, I actually have 29 different renditions re-done by another artist in the late 1800's, Johann. How awesome to have an artist doing that portraait for you.

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 7 years ago from Florida, United States

      I love the art work. Thank you for your expertise. My favorite picture in this hub is the 'Sistine Madonna'. I love the fat little cherubs. They look a bit annoyed:)

    • profile image

      ArchDynamics 7 years ago

      James: Another great Hub, as always. I had the privilege of living in Nurnberg for several years and got to see many of Durer's works up close ... most notably his finely detailed pen-and-ink studies of human and animal anatomy.

      For those interested in art and history, take a look at 'Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art'. It retails for about $40 but I think Amazon has some copies for under $20.

      Keep up the great work!

    • profile image

      Ellie Perry 7 years ago

      These pieces are beautiful! Your hubs always remind me of my love of art. So many times the day is so busy that we forget to smell the roses! Some of us are so fortunate that the dedication of our whole day is smelling the roses.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Connie,

      Anyone who has been to the Louvre is blessed. The pinnacle of the beauty humans have been gifted to create. Thanks for your comments.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      advisor4qb— Thank you and anybody with the good sense to have a couple Botticellis on their wall qualifies as an aesthete.  I appreciate your remarks.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      emohealer— I didn't figure you had the originals. :D 

      But still, they are beautiful.  I can't wait to see my copy of Durer.  She lives in North Carolina and I'm waiting to hear that it's ready.  Thanks for visiting.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      R Burow— They do don't they? Or at least bored. Raphael is a painter of great beauty. Thank you and you are welcome!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      ArchDynamics— Thank you! You are lucky to have seen those Durer prints up close. I have heard of that book and I read reviews that said it was great. I appreciate you coming by and leaving your words. And thanks again for helping me with my White Summer YouTube videos.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Ellie Perry— Putting this Hub together was pure pleasure. Beauty certainly lives the spirits away from the cares of this world. I am glad you came to visit and left your wise words.

    • quietnessandtrust profile image

      quietnessandtrust 7 years ago

      Very cool....i like old art a lot.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      quietnessandtrust— Me, too.  Art was at one time the representation of beauty. I appreciate you viewing these great works of beauty and leaving word.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 7 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      Yet another beautiful hub. Thank you:) It's going to be so helpful as I'm doing the Renaissance as a topic with my youngest son who I'm homeschooling. I can use your hub as one of the resources. Hubpages can be a tool for homeschooling. Excellent!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Tigermadstanley— Thank you and you are welcome. I am glad to be of service.

    • Staci-Barbo7 profile image

      Staci-Barbo7 7 years ago from North Carolina

      James, your love of art is evident in this Hub.   I find the self-portrait of Durer to be so REAL that one feels he can know this artist.   

      I have a question about Renaissance art - the colors and shadows in many of the paintings seem dark in tone. Exceptions - Bosch and Raphael's paintings shown above. Are the darker tones due to a natural aging process at work on the oils, and would the paintings have appeared to be brighter in tone when they were originally painted? Or were darker tones used for artistic reasons?

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Staci-Barbo7— I am not an expert in anything other than my own taste and can't say I can explain it even, but I believe the colors do fade over time.  I believe also that bright hues were hard to get and produce; more rare and expensive.  So, there would be a budget factor in some cases.  A third possibility is that the selections I made are darker than a random sample?

      I agree about the Durer.  That is fabulous.  I appreciate you visiting, becoming my fan and leaving these comments and questions.  I'll do a bit more research and see if I can come up with a better answer. Love your avatar.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wonderful selection of art, James. We were fortunate to have visited the Prado Museum in Madrid and get to see a bunch of El Greco and Velazquez paintings up close. Also more El Greco's in Toledo. The huge size of some of the paintings were amazing as well as their great beauty.

      I love many other artists as do you. Would be very difficult to choose a favorite. Really nice hub.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Peggy W— Thank you. I would love to go to Madrid and the Prado. Maybe one day. I'm glad you did. I appreciate you for taking the time to take a look see and leave word.

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Exquisite work with wonderful texture and colour and exceptionally fine detail. I think modern artists (painters ) have it so easy in comparison.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      katyzzz— Yes!  Working with eggs and crushed flowers and the like seems like delicate work.  I am pleased that you came by and left your remarks.  I agree with you.  Your art is also beautiful.

    • profile image

      Kym 7 years ago

      I love your choices. Each has its own artistic marvels. Raphael has always been a favorite of mine. I love Durer's self portrait. There is something about his hand that draws my attention.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Kym— Thank you.  :D

      The position of Durer's hand mimics a Christ-like positioning from an older painting, I believe.  Just going from memory here.  You have mentioned two of the best.  I appreciate your remarks.

    • profile image

      Hilary Shaw 7 years ago

      excuse me, james... when did you post this page on the website

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      Hilary Shaw— 7/04/09. May I ask why you ask? :)

    • nikki1 profile image

      nikki1 7 years ago

      amazing artwork :-)

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      nikki1— Thank you very much for visiting and leaving your comment.

    • profile image

      poetlorraine 7 years ago

      Wow you are really into art in a big way,thank you for introducing me to these works...

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      poetlorraine— I indeed do love art. These Art Hubs are more popular than I predicted, too. So, apparently, quite a few folks are interesting. You are welcome. Thank you for visiting.

    • deepanjana profile image

      deepanjana 6 years ago

      Thanks for the exquisite detail.. great hub

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      deepanjana— You're quite welcome. I am well pleased that you enjoyed it. Thank you for coming.

    • profile image

      niall.tubbs 6 years ago

      James- We agree once more,Caravaggio speaks to me.Its dark peasantry illuminates reality.A man so disagreeable and yet there is value with those we find disagreeable.Let us hope there is value in our disagreements.

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      niall.tubbs— I surely agree with you. There is value in our disagreements. Caravaggio is an incredible artist. Even on this page of greats, his stands out as extra special, and sublime. Thank you for visiting and for your wise words.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Wonderful, excellent work of Art! Thank you for sharing this with us James! Class Hub!

    • James A Watkins profile image
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      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      drpastorcarlotta— You are welcome, Doctor Pastor. :D

      Thank you for visiting and brightening up my day!

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