The Basics of Renaissance Art

In a world where everybody’s interested in all things highly technical— even art is digitalized, sometimes it’s a good breather to look back at historical art. Back in the days, art was considered as highly philosophical and not just a hobby. People spent time learning about art because it calmed people’s emotions and expand their minds. 

So now, we’re taking you back to the Renaissance period. Below are some of the basic things you may be interested to know about Renaissance art.

Period of Renaissance Art

            The Renaissance period started from the 14th century to the beginning of the 16thcentury. The start of this period was a time of great crisis. The chaos in the Catholic Church shook people’s faith in religion, government, and even their fellow men. During this ‘dark’ period, Europeans desired for a culture rebirth, hence, the term ‘renaissance.’

            The Italians began the movement to rediscover art, along with the philosophies, writings, and architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans. All these gave inspiration to artists and allowed greater flexibility in the artworks they produced. 

Characteristics of Renaissance Art

Technique & Medium

The common medium in the Renaissance was ‘fresco.’ The colors are made by grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water before it’s set with the plaster to become a permanent part of the wall. Artists using this technique had to work quickly because the plaster dries fast. 

 Subject Matter & Inspiration 

Since artists were discovering many Greek and Roman pieces during this time, most artworks are inspired by such details. Renaissance artists were also trying to make their viewers feel emotions in their artworks, so more realistic details can be found in human subjects. The Catholic Church also commissioned a lot of artwork during this period so many Biblical subjects were created. 

Stability & Symmetry 

One prominent characteristic of Renaissance art is its stable, symmetrical composition. Linear perspective, horizon line, and vanishing points are visible in most artworks. The most preferred shape was the triangle or pyramid because of its stability. 

Vitruvian Man
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Major Players of Renaissance Art 

            The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lived during this period and they set the standard of Renaissance art. They are considered the four greatest masters of Renaissance period. 

Leonardo da Vinci 

Known as a true Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci was an artist, inventor, draftsman, and polymath. He was famous for his pieces: “Mona Lisa”, “The Last Supper,” and the sketch of the “Vitruvian Man.” 


His full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Bounarotti Simoni. He was an architect, artist, poet, and engineer. His most famous works are sculpture of David, the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel which depicted scenes from Genesis, and The Last Judgment placed on the altar wall. 


Raphael, whose full name was Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was a painter and architect. His major paintings Madonna of the Pinks, Sistine Madonna, and The School of Athens can be viewed in the Raphael rooms in the Vatican. 


The sculptor among the four artists is Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi. He was a master in both marble and bronze sculpture but he also created a wooden sculpture of Penitent Magdalene. His other works are bronze sculpture of David and bronze roundel of Chellini Madonna. 

Famous Renaissance Artworks 

The Last Supper 

This painting created by Leonardo da Vinci in 1948 depicted a vibrant scene filled with real emotions from the 12 apostles. One man is even depicted to be the one who will betray Jesus Christ. 

The Last Supper
The Last Supper

 The Creation of Adam 

One of Michelangelo’s magnificent creations is this section found in the Sistine Chapel which displays the idea of a man being a co-creator with God. For a long period of time, God was seen as a powerful individual whom people got scared of. In Michelangelo’s painting, God and Adam were created having the same muscular body type, same height, and fingers almost touching. This signifies man’s divine potential – expressing that God is like us and we can become like him. 

The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam

School of Athens 

Created in 1510, Raphael depicted all the great philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome. This is an example how Renaissance artists were inspired by them. One interesting thing about this painting is how the two greatest philosophers Plato and Aristotle were created. Plato was pointing to the heavens to depict how he believed in the realm of Forms and Aristotle pointing to the earth to highlight his belief on the realm of things. 

School of Athens
School of Athens

Statue of David

Believing that sculpture was the highest form of art, Michelangelo created the statue of David in 1504. It was the first free-standing nude statue since the days of antiquity. It was a celebration of the ideal human form. The subject is believed to be depicting the time when David was thinking of slaying Goliath. 


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