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The Most Famous Renaissance Paintings

 The Renaissance was a cultural movement that occurred roughly from the 14th century all the way up to the 17th. This period saw some of the greatest artists in the history of mankind, including Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Below are ten of the most famous paintings from this extremely significant period of human artistic development.

10. The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli - Year: 1486

The "Birth of Venus" depicts the classical myth of Venus rising from the sea. In this painting, Venus, the goddess of love, born out of a seashell as a fully mature woman, is arriving at the seashore. Art scholars have given many interpretations of the painting, with the most prominent one being that Botticelli represented the Neoplatonic idea of divine love in the form of a nude Venus. This painting, to this day, remains one of the most treasured artworks of the Renaissance.

9. Assumption of the Virgin by Titian - Year: 1518

This painting, located on the high altar in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, was the first commission of Titian in Venice, and it established him as lead painter in the city. The painting shows the "assumption of the virgin", which is celebrated every year on August 15th and commemorates the rising of Mary to heaven before her body decays. In the painting, the virgin Mary is being raised to the heavens by a group of cherubim, while standing on a cloud. This is Titian's masterpiece.

8. Sistine Madonna by Raphael - Year: 1512

"Sistine Madonna" depicts the Madonna holding the Christ Child and flanked by Saint Barbara and Saint Sixtus. Furthermore, there are two winged cherubs beneath Mary, who are perhaps the most famous cherubs depicted in any artwork. "Sistine Madonna" is considered to one of the finest paintings ever created, and it is especially popular in Germany where it has been hailed as "supreme among the world's paintings."

7. Primavera by Sandro Botticelli - Year: c.1482

 "Primavera" means "the season of spring" and this painting has often been referred to as "Allegory of Spring". There have been many interpretations of the painting, but it is generally agreed that at some level it is "an elaborate mythological allegory of the burgeoning fertility of the world." This painting is one of the most written about and controversial paintings to have ever been created. Botticelli's use of color and multiple interpretations of the work have made this painting hugely popular and it is often cited as a prime example of the grace of Renaissance art.

6. The Last Judgment by Michelangelo Buonarroti - Year: 1541

The Last Judgment is one of the most influential works in the history of Western art. Painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, this painting depicts the Second Coming of Christ, and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. Jesus is shown in the center of the painting and is surrounded by saints; while the Resurrection of the Dead and the Descent of the Damned into Hell is shown in the zone below.

5. The Kiss of Judas by Giotto di Bondone - Year: 1306

Many art critics consider Giotto as the first genius modern painter, and some have even claimed that no artist has ever surpassed him, with only a few having come close. His fresco cycle on the Scrovegni Chapel is one of the most important masterpieces of Western art and "The Kiss of Judas" is the most famous painting in this cycle. The painting depicts the moment of betrayal when Judas identifies Jesus to the soldiers by kissing him. Giotto masterfully captures the drama and confusion of Christ's arrest as well as the contrast of expressions of Judas and Jesus as they look face-to-face.

4. The School of Athens by Raphael - Year: 1511

Raphael's masterpiece is one of the four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanze di Raffaello in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The four paintings epitomize Poetry, Philosophy, Theology, and Law; with "The School of Athens" representing Philosophy. Critics have suggested that every great Greek philosopher can be found in the painting. however, apart from Aristotle and Plato, who can be seen in the center of painting, no one else can be identified. This painting is considered to be "the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the High Renaissance."

3. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci - Year: 1498

In this famous painting, Da Vinci masterfully depicts the bewilderment and confusion that occurs among the disciples of Jesus when he announces to them all that one would betray him. Da Vinci's detailed knowledge of light, anatomy, botany and geology, his interest in how humans register emotion in expressions and gestures, and his subtle gradation of tone all help to make this painting one of the most revered artworks of all time.

2. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti - Year: 1512

The work done by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a flagship of Renaissance art and "The Creation of Adam" is the most famous fresco panel in this masterpiece. The popularity of this painting is second only to "Mona Lisa"; and along with the "Last Supper", it's the most replicated religious painting of all time. The image of the near-touching hands of Adam and God has become iconic of humanity and has been imitated and parodied many times.

1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci - Year 1517

The "Mona Lisa" is the most well-known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, and the most parodied work of art in the whole world. It's fame rests, in particular, on the smile on the woman's face, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as "La Gioconda," or the laughing one. For Da Vinci, this painting was forever a work in progress, as it was his attempt at creating perfection. The Guinness World Records lists this painting as having the highest insurance value of any painting in history. In 1962, it was given a value of $100 million, which in today's world would be a whopping $759 million.
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