Recently we posted a picture quiz on Italian Renaissance artists. Press that link to have a go? before you read the answer below! Readers simply had to try to identify the artists, and/or their works, using the questions and hints below… Here are the answers!
First section. Proto- Renaissance.
Question #1 What’s the name of the author of this beautiful work, below? and where did he hail from?
#1. This above is a work by Ambrogio Lorezetti, c1290-1348, fro Sienna, in Tuscanny, central Italy. It’s not hard to see below why he’s generally acknowledged as being the first in Italian Art to use true, mathematical linear perspective, something we usually associate with later artists like Paulo Ucello in the, (significantly later) quttrocentro in Florence. Astonishingly, Lorenzetti was much earlier. He was a younger contemporary of Giotto, (c1267-1337), only dying 11 years after Giotto.
Q#2 This work below, (by the same artist as above) what does it depict? Who is kneeling before the Pope.
It’s a another, second work by work by the same Ambrogio Lorezetti, this time showing St Benedict, kneeling in front of the Pope. The, very early use here of mathematical linear perspective is even more marked.
#3- A work by Giotto. Where would you find it?
A#3- In the Scronvegni or Arena Chapel, in Padua, an iconic and in its time, an immensely influential work, now often regarded as a s bridge from the medieval to the early Renaissance in Western Art.
Next section, Quattrocento
#4- This astonishing achievement was the first large dome constructed since antiquity. What is the building? and who was the architect?
A#4- The distinctive dome belongs of course to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. The legendary architect was Filipo Brunelleschi. (1377-1446) He was the first to construct a large dome since antiquity, since the time of the ancient Romans.
Q#5- Who is the sculptor? and who is the subject of, the saint, depicted in this work below?
Answerr to #5: – This is a work by Brunelleschi’s friend and contemporary, the Florentine sculptor Donatello (c1386-1466) It represents St George, in one of the exterior niches in the Orsanmichele, which was the chapel, offices, grain-store and general home, of Florence’s powerful trade guilds. All the guilds had to commission statutes of their different patron saints, and the statues are by some of the greatest sculptors of the age. St George was, and still is, the patron of the Arte dei Corazzai, the gild of armourers. The originals of all the Orsanmichele sculptures (and there are others by for example Andrea Pisano, by Lozenzo Gibertti and by other Florentine greats) have in fact now all been taken to different museums, like the Bargello and the Academia, to protect them from the elements. But you’d hardly know the difference, the replacements in the niches are such perfect replicas.
#6- Another, even more extraordinary work by the same sculptor, Donatello… But who’s the subject? And in what city would you find this monumental masterpiece?
Answer to #6- : The amazing equestrian statue above is another work also by Donatello. It depicts the mercenary general or “condottiere” Gattamelata. It’s in Padua. This, and the equally superb work depicting another condottiere, Bartolomeo Colleoni sculpted by Andrea Verrocchio in Venice, (picture below) are the greatest two equestrian statues to come out of the Renaissance. Large-scale bronze casting, especially of complex shapes like these, is notoriously difficult. So each work represents an amazing technical as well as artistic achievement.
above: not part of our quiz, but another brilliant, huge equestrian statue: Bartolomeo Colleoni. by Andrea Verrocchio, Venice.
Question #7- And which early Italian Renaissance painter is responsible for this work, below?
Answer to #7- This lovely gracious Madonna and child Enthroned, is by Fra Angelico, (1395-1455) the painter and Dominican friar. He painted as part of a whole series of works decorating San Marco in Florence, a complex of church and convent, (the convent is today a museum, and so this work is still there in its original home). It was commissioned and paid for by Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder, and completed sometime c1438-42.
Question #8 -what Florentine quattrocento genius painted this marvel of perspective below, still in situ at the church of Santa Maria Novella?
Answer to #8- Anyone who’s ever arrived in Florence by train will have faced the church of Santa Maria Novella, as they stepped out of the lovely 1920s train station of the same name. The station is directly opposite the church, and named after it. The amazing fresco above is inside: The Holy Trinity, by Massacio, a tragically short-lived but highly influential artist of the quattrocentro.
Question #9- okay, moving on, A little bit later now. There are even more famous work than this one, (work below) by this so-called “third generation” Florentine painter. He painted some of the most instantly recognizable, most iconic images of the Renaissance. By the way that’s his self-portrait on the right, looking straight at you. What’s his name?
Answer to #9:- This is an Adoration of the Magi, a famous work by Sandro Botticelli, painter of even more iconic works Primavera (first image below) and Birth of Venus. (to right)
#10- Here below is a detail, from another work, by the same artist pictured above. But what iconic book of poetry was it designed to illustrate?
Answer to #10:- Well, you already know its another work by Sandro Botticelli. And we’re sure you knew or correctly guessed, the famous book of poetry was Dante’s Inferno, a work that inspired some of the greatest artists in history. I’m a particular, and very long-term fan of the illustrations of 19th century French artist Gustave Doré. Anyway, the work above is by Botticelli. Look at those devils! A truly nasty, vicious, vision of hell!
Question 11- This work (below) was started by one famous Florentine artist, famous both in his own right, but also for leading a studio that contained and trained some of the greatest names of the Renaissance. So two questions here: 11a- Who started this work? and 11b- Who finished it?
Answer 11 We asked you two questions here, firstly, who started this work? The answer is Andrea del Verrochio, who sculpted that second, incredible Bronze horse we mentioned in the extra information to answer number. Verrocchio also ran a studio that contained and trained some of the greatest names of the Renaissance.
We also asked you 11b- Who finished the painting above? The answer to that is Verrocchio’s favored apprentice and sucesssor, Lorenzo de Credi (1459-1537)
Question 12- we spoke above Andrea del Verrochio, whose busy studio trained a whole stable of great artists. This work below was also a collaboration, between the same master, but a different apprentice. Who was this second apprentice, who reputedly painted the angels here below?
Answer to #12: The two angel kneeling on the left, are reputedly, and famously, by a young Leonardo Da Vinci. They almost certainly are by Leonardo, scholars agree. But the story, I think first put about by Georgio Vasari, (who was full of these old canards) says that when the master saw the dazzling work done by his young apprentice, he threw down his brushes, and swore he’d never paint again. That, I think we can safely say, is apocryphal.
Section 3- High Renaissance.
question #13 Okay, pretty confident you either guessed the answer to the last question or more likely, already knew it. So not too worried about giving too much away with this one either. Below is a mature work, an iconic work, by the “apprentice” involved above. As you know it’s in a refectory, a dining room, in an old monastery or priory. But in what city? This is question #13 by the way, – (an aptly numbered 13)
Answer 14: The Last Supper, by Leonardo. It’s in Milan.
#14- and this work, below, in Rome, is by his slightly younger, equally legendary contemporary? Part of a huge, and immensely complex scheme, that took around seven years to complete. There’s a ahem, clue on the image but I decided not to cut it out. If you’re still here, this will be a breeze anyway. Artist and location?
It is of course a detail, one of the Sybyls, from Michelangelo huge series of frescoes on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
#15- And two works below, by the third member of the traditional High Renaissance apex trio. Firstly, what is his name?
Answer to #15- The work above and below are of course both by Raphael.
But Question #16- and far more difficult, who was the female subject of this portrait, scion of a powerful dynasty who ruled Milan in Lombardy?
This is Caterina Sforza. A truly formidable woman.
Section 4- Venice.
Question #17- We’ve glanced at the sons of Sienna, Florence and Rome. Let’s not forget the Venetians. This man who painted this beautiful, enigmatic Allegory below came from an entire family of famous Venetian painters, and his brother in law was even Andrea Mantegna. But what’s the name of the artist of this Allegory?
Answer #17: Giovanni Bellini
Question #18 - We all know the patron saint of Venice is St Mark, (whose body the Venetians, not to put too fine a point on it, basically stole from Constantinople! ) Here below is a moment from that famous theft, dignified by this dramatic work “Finding the body of Saint Mark” But who’s the artist?
Answer #18: the artist was Tintoretto.
Question #19- and our Penultimate question and artwork, here by the most famous Venetian painter of them all. He was famous for his use of colour. A certain type of red in women’s hair is even named after him. He exerted a huge influence on later artists, notably Peter Paul Rubens. Here he paints a woman with a mirror, perhaps echoing Jan Van Eyck’s Arnofini Wedding portrait, and also pre-figuring later painters, like Velazquez (and indeed Ireland’s own genius Sir William Orpen). But who was this legendary Venetian artist?
Answer #19: It is of course a work by Titian.
Last work: Baroque.
20- Final work. Last, but very definitely not least, this superb female artist of the 17th century, painting very powerfully in the style of Caravaggio. Preconceptions and social conventions made it almost impossible for women to be painters in the Renaissance or Baroque era, but this woman’s father owned a studio and so she worked alongside him, becoming an accomplished artist in her own right. A thug working for the family studio raped her, but, although clearly marked by the experience, she recovered and prevailed, to become one of the greatest Italian painters of the 17th century.
So, last question- who is the brilliant artist, responsible for this work?
Answer #20: This is Judith and Holofernes, by the brilliant 17th century artist Artemesia Gentilesschi. It depicts the Israelite, the beautiful widow Judith who saved her people by seducing, then decapitating, the besieging general Holofernes.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures, questions, and bits of hints and extra information. No need to leave your answers, but by all means leave a comment, it’s always great to hear from readers.
For people in Dublin, or passing through Dublin, if you’d like to become a real Robert Langton, and do our Dublin Decoded famous “How to Read a Painting” symbol tour at the National Gallery of Ireland, (pictured above) then 2 things are advised.. 1-see the tour spec here. but more crucially 2- sign up for the newsletter, which will alert and advise you each time we run the tour, (usually once a month).
“How to Read a Painting” also bookable as a private event. See you there sometime
Until the next post, all the best!
Dedicated to Emmeline. who always matched, then surpassed her brother in art history. xx