Popular Italian Painting Periods
- Italian Renaissance Paintings
Developing out of the dark, dour, and severe Middle Ages, where most paintings were strictly religious, and stark, with little attention given to the style of the human figure, came the Italian renaissance. Born in Florence, in the 13th century, the Renaissance slowly spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world with a focus on the arts, humanities, and sciences. Some of the main characteristics of Renaissance art include a much wider range of subject matter, including secular images, pagan images, and mythological imagery. Renaissance paintings have soft lines and make use of light, shadow, and perspective, with close attention given to, and joy taken in, the expression of the human form. Expressive characterization and gestures, linear perspective, and atmospheric perspective combine in Italian Renaissance paintings to give a unique, distinctive look. Popular artists from the period include Taddeo Gaddi, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. Early in the period, tempera is the common medium, oil paintings appear later. One of the most famous and most iconic Italian Renaissance pieces is Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, along with Da Vinci’s ‘Madonna of the Rocks’.
- Italian Baroque Paintings
From the late 16th to mid 18th century, Italian Baroque paintings had centre stage. Some of the most renowned Baroque artists include Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Annibale Carracci. Paintings of this period, predominantly in oil paint, move away from classical, romantic, and religious themes to ordinary people in ordinary situations. Early in the period, vivid contrasts between dark and light are common, and popular early works include Michelangelo’s ‘Calling of St Matthew’. Later in the Baroque period, a lighter palette and more fluid brush strokes become the norm. Gianbattista Tiepolo is a prime example of a late Italian Baroque painter.
- Italian Neoclassical Paintings
Italian Neoclassical paintings cover the late 18th and 19th century. Symmetry, proportion, and natural perspective are particularly prominent in paintings of this period. The Macchiaioli, a group of painters from Tuscany, are among the most well known Italian Neoclassical artists, breaking with traditions taught in Italian art schools, painting outdoors to capture natural light and shadow in their work.