Famous Renaissance Paintings: Our 10 favorites

Famous Renaissance Paintings

Crown & Paw was born after a trip that we took to Europe. During that trip, we saw some of the most stunning artwork in some of the most prestigious art galleries in the entire world. As we gazed at these impressive paintings, the idea hit us. Why not take the aesthetic that makes Renaissance-era oil paintings so easily identifiable and feature them in a different way, with our beloved pets at the forefront! 

We love to create custom pet portraits for pet owners as a way to show off this new genre of artwork, but we also appreciate the classics. Here are 10 of our favorite famous Renaissance paintings… you’ll likely be able to tell right away how they’ve influenced us.

#1. Mona Lisa By Leonardo da Vinci

We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with probably the most well-known Renaissance painting of all time—the Mona Lisa. From the enigmatic slight smile on her face to the way she both blends into and stands out from the landscape behind her, this painting has drawn people in since it was completed in 1517. 

Although there is plenty of controversy surrounding the painting (for instance, did you know that some people believe that it is a disguised self-portrait of da Vinci himself?), there is really no doubt that the Mona Lisa is arguably the most immediately recognizable painting coming out of that era. It will likely continue to be part of pop culture history for many years to come. 

If you want to see Mona Lisa in person, she currently resides in her own room at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.  



#2. Portrait Of Baldassare Castiglione By Raphael

While you may not be able to specifically conjure up an image of this painting in your mind, you’ve likely seen it many times in your life. The Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione was painted by another famous Italian painter, Raphael, in 1514. 

The painting captures his friend, who was both a diplomat and a humanist, depicted in the high fashion of the time period. It was one of only two paintings that Raphael did on canvas, making it even more special. This one of the paintings that really popularized the dress of the time and many more paintings were created to try to mimic this style. However, this painting really is one of a kind.

The Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione is also housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

#3. The Last Judgement By Michelangelo Buonarroti

This painting has a lot going on, which is part of why it continues to draw people in nearly 500 years after its debut in 1541. 

Instead of being created on canvas, like many of the other paintings of the time, The Last Judgement is a “fresco,” meaning that it was created quickly on wet plaster. And it wasn’t just any wet plaster; Michelangelo painted this Renaissance classic directly on the altar wall at the Sistine Chapel (in Vatican City). 

The Last Judgement, just like many of the other pieces of the time period, depicts a Biblical scene. In the painting, the final judgement is beginning as Christ returns to Earth. It showcases both heaven and hell, good and bad, light and dark. It’s a stunning piece of work that really needs to be seen to be believed, which is why it is one of the most famous not only of its time but in general. 

#4. The Creation Of Adam By Michaelango Buonarroti

Even though we don’t know exactly when The Creation of Adam was painted (somewhere between 1508 and 1512), this painting remains another of the most famous of the period. Another fresco in the Sistine Chapel, this time on the ceiling, the painting would be impressive if only for the difficulty there would have been creating it in the first place. 

Fortunately, the actual piece is just as stunning. It is also the most frequently replicated religious painting ever. Let that sink in! It truly is an iconic painting.

#5. The Birth Of Venus By Sandro Botticelli

From 1486, The Birth of Venus became a classic right out of the gate. 

Painted by Sandro Botticelli, one of the heavy hitters of the Renaissance period, The Birth of Venus portrays the classic myth of the goddess of love, Venus, rising from the sea. As she is born, coming out of a seashell as a fully developed woman, those around her rush to her service. 

The painting is one of the best examples of the general aesthetic of the time period, full of color and action even down to the smallest detail. It can be found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

#6. The Last Supper By Leonardo da Vinci

The subtlety in The Last Supper by da Vinci is unparalleled. Every time you see it, you’ll likely notice something different—a look on someone’s face, a small detail in the corner. It was created that way specifically, in 1498, to depict the intricacy of the complex feelings present in the betrayal of Christ. It is a really compelling piece of artwork.

To see the original Last Supper painting, you’ll have to visit the Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. But it’ll be well worth the trip.

#7. Self-Portrait With Bernardino Campi By Sofonisba Anguissola

The Renaissance art period was full of men. Sofonisba Anguissola broke out of that mold and became one of the most well-known and influential female painters of the time, during a time when that simply wasn’t done or well accepted. 

Self-Portrait with Bernardino Campi is the perfect example. Anguissola created this painting in the style of the time, but with a feminist undertone that one can only respect and admire. While still sticking with the aesthetic of the time, it approaches the idea of male artist mentors with a wink. Check it out for yourself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.



#8. The Kiss Of Judas By Giotto di Bondone

Plenty of people consider Giotto to be the originator of the Renaissance painting style, as The Kiss of Judas shows. Created years before many of the other classic painters of the time made their debut, Giotto painted this classic in 1306. 

He also painted frescos long before Michaelangelo did, painting The Kiss of Judas on the wall of the Scrovegni Chapel in Veneto, Italy.

The Kiss of Judas features the downfall of Jesus in a way that seems both beautiful and violent. He approaches the subject with beauty and passion, as many of the religious pieces of art from the time period did. Even with some of the darker subject material, like The Kiss of Judas, The Last Supper, and The Last Judgement, the Renaissance period could find the light.

#9. Ginevra de’ Benci By Leonardo da Vinci

Although not as famous as the Mona Lisa, the Ginevra de’ Benci is still one of the more well-known portraits painted by the famous Leonardo da Vinci. It is one of the first three quarter view portraits of its time all the same. 

Currently hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., this portrait is a standard of the way that women were painted during the Renaissance period. You can see its influence in one of our favorite custom pet paintings, The Duchess

The subject, Ginevra, came from a rich family in Florence. She is dressed to impress, and many believe that da Vinci was commissioned to paint it to celebrate her engagement. Quite the bridal shower gift, right?

#10. Venus Of Urbino By Tiziano Vecilli (Also Known As Titian)

Sometimes referred to as the Reclining Venus, the Venus of Urbino was created in the 1530s by one of the other most influential artists of the time period, Titian. The painting features the goddess Venus, nude and lounging on a couch in a palace. However, nudity was far more common at the time and seen as far less vulgar than it is viewed now.

Titian may not be as much of a household name as many of the other painters featured on this list, like Michaelangelo, Botticelli, and da Vinci, he is still viewed as one of the Italian painting masters of the time period. Titian is also responsible for other classic works of Renaissance painting like Bacchus and Ariadne and the Assumption of the Virgin.

Venus of Urbino is also located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

In Conclusion

Although it’s hard to pick favorites, there is zero doubt that each of the ten Renaissance paintings we featured above has significantly influenced our portraits at Crown & Paw. While most of us will likely never be able to hang the Mona Lisa on our wall, you do have the opportunity to hang a Renaissance painting of your own adorable pet in a prominent place. Why not show off your pet in the unique, regal manner they truly deserve?