A brief history of Italian art

Mona Lisa painting in golden frame with blonde haired woman viewing it

Italian art is wonderful; it explores noteworthy themes and tells a story, and has a rich history behind it. Of course, the Italian artists of the Renaissance are remarkable themselves, producing works that brought their style to the everyday.

In this blog, we discuss everything you need to know about Italian art, as well as delving deeper into the Italian artists who shaped its future. Simply read on to explore everything you wish to know about this type of art.

Insights into Italian Renaissance

Italy has long been a country connected to the art scene, being the face of artistic advancements of the Renaissance. Those interested in art, as well as professional scholars in Italy, were in a great position to drive the revival of the Roman and Classical Greek world, due to the leftover remains of ancient times. This revival is known as ‘Renaissance classicism’.

Renaissance is typically described as an educated age of architecture and art, after a restored cultural interest arose in antiquity. The momentum of the Italian Renaissance has never been fully defined, but scholars often regard the economic instability during the 14th century as having a major influence on Italian art. This is because those in wealthier positions decided to invest in the arts, and it had a huge influence on Italian painting, architecture, and sculpting, which continued for several centuries.

Famous Italian artists of the renaissance 

Even as a beginner to the art world, you will likely be aware of famous Italian artists, whether you’ve heard their name in passing or have seen one of their pieces displayed in a gallery. So many different Italian artists of the renaissance have influenced the movement and are the reason this type of art is so incredible. We have listed the most notable artists below to provide you with further insights into this art movement.

Leonardo da Vinci

Crowd of people viewing the Italian art piece, Mona Lisa

One of the most well-known Italian artists is Leonardo da Vinci, who is regarded as one of the greatest painters in history. In fact, Da Vinci’s Renaissance work is some of the most famous Italian art of all time. This incredible artist brought the iconic portrait ‘Mona Lisa’ (1503 and 1519) to the world.

Da Vinci also created the popularly reproduced religious painting, ‘The Last Supper’ (1490s), and ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ (1483-1485), paintings that started the High Renaissance movement. This involved creating works that portrayed the beauty of the human body and movement, using oil paint to depict intricate shades and tones to create impressive, colourful artwork.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Michelangelo is a significant part of Italian art history; he was a painter, sculptor, architect, and even a poet. This Florence-born artist hugely influenced Western art and was considered one of the most impressive of his time. The ‘David’ sculpture he crafted can be found in Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence.

Michelangelo David sculpture


Titian, also widely known as Tiziano Vecelli in Italian, or Tiziano Vecellio in English was another brilliant Italian artist. Titian was deemed one of the finest members of the 16th-century Venetian school of painting, as well as being regarded as the first great artist of the Italian Renaissance, which originally began in the 14th century. Widely known for subverting the Byzantine style of painting, this artist brought a more realistic style to the Italian art scene.

His oil painting, ‘Assumption of the Virgin’, was Titian’s most famous piece of art; it was this that helped shape him into one of the most influential Venetian artists. Approximately 300 examples of his work are still exhibited today in various museums and art galleries.

Explore different art styles

Now you have a greater understanding of Italian art, alongside the famous Italian artists to look out for, you can peruse art galleries and museums with confidence. Another great idea is that you can begin appreciating other art movements that followed by purchasing our prints and displaying them on the walls across your home!

Additionally, visit our blog and read through a diverse selection of articles discussing similar topics, such as our piece on the brief history of British art, or discover helpful pieces on how to get started with portrait drawings.