The medieval period was one that featured the rise of small kingdoms across much of Europe, especially in areas that were once ruled by the Roman Empire.
The fall of Rome’s might marked the beginning of the medieval era, which lasted until roughly 1500 A.D.
During this one thousand-year period, artwork throughout the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the rest of Europe focused heavily on religious works, most notably those pertaining to Christianity.
Various painters rose to prominence in and around Italy during the latter portion of the medieval years, just before the Renaissance would begin to take shape. The paintings created during the medieval times were remarkable in their own right in many ways.
In this article, we will explore the most famous medieval paintings and more closely examine the artists who created them, as well as the subject matter each work contained.
1. Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) – Giotto Di Bondone
Giotto Di Bondone was one of the most notable artists from the medieval period. He was known simply as Giotto and created a large collection of religious works that focused on the life of Christ, as well as those of his 12 apostles.
His famous painting, Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ) is the most recognized work from the medieval era and features the moments immediately after Christ’s death before he was laid to rest in a tomb.
The 1306 work is featured on the north wall of the Scrovegni Chapel, which is located in Padua, Italy. Giotto is credited with influencing many other artists who would go on to form the origins of the Renaissance period, which also greatly emphasized Christian paintings.
This particular work features the deceased Christ shortly after he was removed from the cross. Many of the notable figures from the account recorded in the New Testament are present, including his mother Mary, as well as other women such as Mary Magdalene.
The apostles and other figures are shown with halos around their heads while angels can be seen weeping in the heavens above the body of Christ.
2. Wilton Diptych
The Wilton Diptych is one of the most highly-revered and mysterious works from medieval times. The painting is featured on a small diptych, which is two panels that were designed to form a portable painting that could be easily transported and protected.
The particular artist who painted the Wilton Diptych is unknown, although most art historians and critics believe it was an English or French painter.
The work was known to have been completed in 1399, just as the medieval period was coming to an end. It was painted for King Richard II of England who is depicted as kneeling before the Holy Virgin and Child, which are featured on the right diptych panel.
The Virgin Mary and infant Jesus are depicted as being surrounded by angels who were garbed in blue robes, which was a symbol of righteousness in medieval times.
The diptych is made of Baltic oak and remains in remarkable condition at the National Gallery in London.
King Richard II is seen surrounded by three prominent figures from Christian theology and English royalty as John the Baptist, Edward the Confessor and Edmund the Martyr are each standing over him.
3. The Ghent Altarpiece – Hubert and Jan van Eyck
One of the best known medieval paintings to come from the Dutch region is Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s painting that is a complex compilation of polyptych panels that each feature a notable figure or event from the Christian New Testament Bible, as well as the Old Testament.
The panels are arranged in two vertically-aligned layouts that can be folded outward and arranged in a unique pattern.
The work is credited to two prominent Flemish brothers who produced a number of prestigious artworks during this time period.
Hubert and Jan van Eyck were known to have painted a number of other religious-themed works that featured various scenes from the Bible, but none would gain as much praise as this 1432 work.
The upper register of panels feature a scene focused on heavenly redemption while the second register features a collection of clergy, angels and two sculptures of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.
4. The Presentation in the Temple – Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Italian painter Ambrogio Lorenzetti has been credited as one of the central figures who greatly influenced a litany of Renaissance artists who would follow after him more than a century later.
He is known to have painted another famous medieval work that is also featured on a panel-style surface that features four of the patron saints from the city of Siena, Italy.
This work was completed in 1342 and included Saint Ansanus, Saint Sabinus of Spoleto, Saint Victor, and Saint Crescentius. The painting was originally displayed at the altar of Saint Crescentius at the Cathedral of Siena, but has since been moved to Florence, Italy.
The painting depicts the presentation of an infant child, which was customarily done forty days after birth in which the mother and child are purified in a ritual cleansing with prayer.
The woman holding the cloth that was wrapped around the child is depicted as the Virgin Mary while the child is believed to be the baby Jesus.
5. Diptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned and the Crucifixion
Another medieval painting that contains an air of mystery is known as the Diptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned and the Crucifixion.
This, too, was painted on a set of diptych panels and remains in good condition considering it is believed to have been finished around 1275 A.D.
The diptych features a very simple, straightforward depiction of the Virgin Mary seated on the left diptych holding the infant Jesus while the two are joined by what appears to be cherubs, or child-like angelic beings hovering above the Mother and Son.
The right diptych panel presents a much more grim scene in which the Mother of Jesus and another woman are joined at the foot of the crucified Jesus. Like the opposite panel, this diptych also features a set of angels looking down on the crucifixion scene.
6. The Trinity – Andrei Rublev
One of the most recognized pieces of art from the medieval period was done by Andrei Rublev, a Russian painter who produced various religious works during the 15th century, just before the Renaissance era would begin in Italy.
This work is easily the most famous pre-Renaissance work from Russia and is now on display at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia.
The famous work was commissioned to honor Saint Sergius of Radonezh who played a pivotal role as a religious leader in Moscow during the century prior to the painting’s creation.
There is some debate as to the exact year in which the painting was finished with some scholars believing it to be from 1411 while another date is later around 1427.
The three figures in the painting are assumed to be the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
7. Ognissanti Madonna – Giotto di Bondone
Another notable work that was credited to Giotto di Bondone, who was known as Giotto, is titled Ognissanti Madonna. This simple, yet elegant depiction of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus is dated to around 1310 and remains in remarkable condition considering its history.
There is some debate among art historians as to whether this painting was actually done by Giotto himself, or one of his students or others from the time period.
The painting features an oversized Madonna, or Virgin Mary, with the infant Jesus who are depicted as being encircled by angels and various figures from the Bible.
8. Rest During the Flight into Egypt – Gentile da Fabriano
One of the most famous paintings to have been done in the 15th century is credited as coming from an artist known as Gentile da Fabriano.
This sprawling work was painted on a long, rectangular wood surface and features a rarely-painted scene of the Bible’s account of the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus on their travels to Egypt to escape the efforts of Herod to kill every newborn child in the birthplace of Christ.
The work depicts the young family leaving the lush open lands of their home and heading toward a vast city that is represented as Egypt, which at the time of the Biblical account, was still a sprawling metropolis.
The work is believed to have been finished in 1423 and remains one of the most widely-recognized from the medieval period.
9. Paradiesgärtleins – Upper Rhenish Master
It was not uncommon for some of the details surrounding medieval paintings to have been lost to time. One such painting was done by an unknown artist who is simply referred to as Upper Rhenish Master.
This work is believed to have been created in 1410 and is titled Paradiesgärtleins, which means Garden of Paradise.
The Virgin Mary is seen in the upper left corner, while an array of female saints from the time period are seen working and enjoying their time in the garden.
The infant Jesus is seen playing the strings of a harp while others are busy tending the garden and its trees and plants.
10. Christ Rescuing Peter from Drowning – Lorenzo Veneziano
One of the most iconic paintings from the medieval era features a famous scene from the Bible’s New Testament in which Christ is said to have walked on water during a mighty storm.
This painting was created by Lorenzo Veneziano in 1370 and remains one of the most recognized paintings from the time period.
The work itself features a depiction of a fishing boat Jesus’ disciples were traveling in across Israel’s Sea of Galilee when a violent storm struck.
During the wind and chaos, the disciples noticed a figure calmly walking towards them. When they realized it was their leader, Jesus, Peter is recorded as leaving the safety of the boat to join Christ on the water.
Upon doing so, he briefly walks on the water with Jesus, but soon falls and sinks below the surface before quickly being rescued by Christ, who pulls him to safety. This painting is one of the most famous portrayals of the Biblical event from history.
Who is the famous artist of medieval art? ›
Giotto di Bondone has been considered as one of the most important forerunners of the Renaissance. Giotto was an influential Italian artist from the late Medieval period, often referred to as the proto-renaissance.Who was the most famous medieval artist? ›
Giotto, who was part of the late Medieval art period, was one of the most important Medieval painters. Many of his paintings are considered to be some of the most important Medieval art examples to exist today.Who are the famous painter in medieval and Renaissance era? ›
High Renaissance art, which flourished for about 35 years, from the early 1490s to 1527, when Rome was sacked by imperial troops, revolves around three towering figures: Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Michelangelo (1475–1564), and Raphael (1483–1520).Who is the father of medieval art? ›
For almost seven centuries Giotto has been revered as the father of European painting and the first of the great Italian masters. He is believed to have been a pupil of the Florentine painter Cimabue and to have decorated chapels in Assisi, Rome, Padua, Florence, and Naples with frescoes and panel paintings in tempera.What are the 3 medieval arts? ›
Though the Middle Ages neither begin nor end neatly at any particular date, art historians generally classify medieval art into the following periods: Early Medieval Art, Romanesque Art, and Gothic Art.What are the five medieval art? ›
“Medieval art” applies to various media, including sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, stained glass, metalwork, and mosaics.Who were the 5 great artists of the High Renaissance? ›
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian.
- Raphael (1483-1520) Italian.
- Michelangelo (1475-1564) Italian.
- Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516)
- Giorgione (1477-1501)
- Titian (1488-1576) Italian.
- Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556) Italian.
- Donato Bramante (1444-1514) Italian architect.
The four main Renaissance artists were: Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Donatello lived during the last decades of the Middle Ages and the first decades of the Renaissance. He was primarily known as a sculptor. Raphael was both a painter and architect.What are the 4 types of medieval art? ›
Due to the vastness of the Medieval Art period, the movement can generally be divided into a number of distinct periods and styles. These art phases have come to be seen as Early Christian Art, Byzantine art, Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque art, and Gothic art.Who were the 3 main Renaissance artists? ›
Three great masters–Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael–dominated the period known as the High Renaissance, which lasted roughly from the early 1490s until the sack of Rome by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain in 1527.
What were medieval artists called? ›
Medieval Artists: Sculptors, Painters, Goldsmiths of Middle Ages. Sculptors, Book Painters, Illuminators and Goldsmiths of the Middle Ages.Who are 3 of the major painters of the High Renaissance? ›
High Renaissance art, which flourished for about 35 years, from the early 1490s to 1527, when Rome was sacked by imperial troops, revolved around three towering figures: Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Michelangelo (1475–1564), and Raphael (1483–1520).What inspired medieval art? ›
Early Medieval art had three major influences: Christianity, the classical world of Rome and the pagan North. Christianity strongly influenced the subject matter of early Medieval art, which very often depicts religious figures and scenes.What is medieval art style? ›
The era encompasses many artistic styles and periods, including early Christian and Byzantine, Anglo-Saxon and Viking, Insular, Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque, and Gothic. During the medieval period, the various secular arts were unified by the Christian church and the sacred arts associated with it.Was Giotto a medieval artist? ›
Revered as one of the first of the great Italian masters, Giotto brought a new sense of humanity and style to the traditions of medieval art.Why is it called medieval? ›
With its roots medi-, meaning "middle", and ev-, meaning "age", medieval literally means "of the Middle Ages". In this case, middle means "between the Roman empire and the Renaissance"—that is, after the fall of the great Roman state and before the "rebirth" of culture that we call the Renaissance.What was the major theme of medieval paintings? ›
Painting developed considerably during the medieval period. Its major theme was religion.What are the 7 major forms of art? ›
However, today contemporary fine art is more than just painting and is defined by 7 fine art disciplines: painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music, literature, and dance.Who were two famous artists of the Renaissance? ›
Perhaps the most famous are Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Other artists, however, had great influence both during Renaissance times and later, even influencing modern day artists. Donatello was a sculptor and one of the pioneers in Renaissance art.Who was the first famous renaissance artist? ›
Masaccio. Masaccio, an artist whose career lasted only seven years because he died of the plague at age 27, has also been dubbed "a father of the Renaissance." His work employed linear perspective and naturalistic figurative treatments in a new way that revolutionized painting.
Who is better Michelangelo or da Vinci? ›
“Michelangelo has been consistently revered, but since Leonardo's notebooks started to be edited and translated and popularised in the 19th century, and we get a sense of Leonardo as a scientist and not just an artist, Leonardo has probably pipped Michelangelo to the post. “Leonardo, in my heart, ultimately wins.”Is Van Gogh a renaissance artist? ›
Answer and Explanation: No, Vincent Van Gogh was not an Italian Renaissance artist. The Italian Renaissance transpired during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Van Gogh, on the other hand, was not born until the middle of the nineteenth century.What 3 artists dominated the Italian Renaissance? ›
The High Renaissance was dominated by three painters: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael; while Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and Titian were the leaders of Venetian High Renaissance painting, with Correggio and Andrea del Sarto being other significant painters of the High Renaissance style.What is medieval art known for? ›
Medieval art was produced in many media, and works survive in large numbers in sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork and mosaics, all of which have had a higher survival rate than other media such as fresco wall-paintings, work in precious metals or textiles, including tapestry.What is medieval style called? ›
Medieval architecture includes four different styles which are Romanesque, the French Style, and the Perpendicular style, which is more commonly known as Gothic architecture.Who was the best Renaissance artist? ›
- Michelangelo (1475-1564 CE) - the first 'Renaissance man' who was as skilled in painting as in sculpture.
- Raphael (1483-1520 CE) - a master of colouring, harmony, and creating the illusion of space.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after Renaissance artists. 4. The original names of the Ninja Turtles were Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. 5.Who are some famous artists from the Renaissance? ›
RenaissanceWhat makes a painting medieval? ›
Medieval art almost always depicted religious topics. The Medieval Era, or Middle Ages, ran from the fall of Rome until the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe, or roughly from the fourth to the early 16th century.What did medieval artists use to draw? ›
Mineral pigments (red ochre, yellow ochre, umber, lime white) continued to be used by painters throughout the Middle Ages. Dug right out of the earth and shaped into sticks with knives, painters made chalks ready for drawing. Natural red chalks, with their rich, warm color, were popular from about 1500 to 1900.
Who painted the Last Supper? ›
A bit of history about the Leonardo's Last Supper
The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci (Cenacolo Vinciano) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. This artwork was painted between 1494 and 1498 under the government of Ludovico il Moro and represents the last "dinner" between Jesus and his disciples.
|Early Medieval Art||c.500–800|
Who was the “father” of Renaissance art? The answer is Giotto di Bondone, commonly known simply as Giotto. Giotto was born in Tuscany around 1266 (his exact birthdate and birthplace are unknown – multiple towns today lay claim to his birth).Who drew the first perfect circle? ›
The Pope hoped to hire a fresco artist and sent to Giotto a messenger, who asked for a competitive sample drawing. With just paper and a pen, Giotto flicked his wrist and drew a perfect circle.Was Michelangelo influenced by Giotto? ›
Giotto's paintings in the lance-shaped chapel are believed to have had a major influence on Michelangelo, who was born nearly 140 years after Giotto died and who painted the Sistine Chapel in the early 1500s.Who is the most famous art artist? ›
Leonardo da Vinci, probably the most important Renaissance artist, is widely recognized as the most famous artist of all time. He's the genius behind the iconic Mona Lisa painting masterpiece, after all.Who is the famous painter of medieval India? ›
Raja Ravi Varma is considered one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian art; and he is the most famous Indian artist.Who are the 4 famous artist from Renaissance art? ›
I learnt much later that they were actually names of four of the greatest Italian Renaissance artists—Leonardo da Vinci, Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardic, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.Who was the most famous medieval composer? ›
Perhaps the most famous composer of the medieval period, Hildegard von Bingen was a German abbess, writer, philosopher, poet and composer.Who is No 1 artist in the world? ›
As of November 2022, Taylor Swift has the most monthly listeners on Spotify for a female artist, and The Weeknd has the most monthly listeners on Spotify for a male artist. Ed Sheeran is the most-followed male artist, and Ariana Grande is the most-followed female artist.
What is the number 1 famous painting? ›
Mona Lisa, Paris
It is no surprise that the number one painting on our list is the famous Mona Lisa. The enigmatic painting of the smiling woman painted by the greatest Leonardo da Vinci dates back to 1503 to 15019.
The most significant frescoes of the ancient and early medieval period are found in the Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora, and Sittanavasal caves, the last being Jain of the 7th-10th centuries. Although many show evidence of being by artists mainly used to decorating palaces, no early secular wall-paintings survive.Who are the famous artist in ancient period? ›
|Bularchus||8th Century B.C.||Ancient Greek|
|Panaenus||5th Century B.C.||Ancient Greek|
|Phrygillus||5th Century B.C.||Ancient Greek|
|Thutmose DT73 .T3||14th Century B.C.||Amarna Art|
Medieval Art was made up of various artistic mediums, such as sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, tapestries, mosaics, and metalworks. Numerous artworks were made using these different styles, which went on to have a higher survival rate than other mediums like fresco wall paintings.What are two famous medieval composers? ›
Who were the famous medieval composers? The Medieval period is the longest musical period, lasting from around 500 CE to 1400 CE. Famous composers from this era include Hildegard von Bingen, Leonin, Perotin, Guillaume de Machaut, and Adam de la Halle.Who is the greatest medieval poet? ›
Geoffrey Chaucer (l. c. 1343-1400 CE) was a medieval English poet, writer, and philosopher best known for his work The Canterbury Tales, a masterpiece of world literature.