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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.