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3 Pieces of Renaissance Art Worth Going to Europe to See
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May 1, 2019
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Matt Harding
Matt Harding is a magazine writer, photographer and former newspaper reporter who loves to travel.
europe

Renaissance art was produced in Europe during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries and started in Italy, where much of the best and most popular examples remain today. Consisting of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and literature, the art featured an awareness of the natural world, the individual and humanity’s worldly existence. Art with roots in religion, however, still played a big role in Europe (as you’ll see on this list). Still, it was combined with a new approach. Italy especially is a bastion for the period of art and has the best of the best. Here are three pieces of Renaissance art worth going to Europe to see:

Michelangelo’s David

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Called the world’s greatest statue, Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy, was created between 1501 and 1504. Standing at around 17 feet tall and weighing in at more than 12,000 pounds, it’s a marble statue depicting the Biblical hero David standing nude. It was a revolutionary interpretation by the 26-year-old artist, already among the most famous in the world. Most statues of David before then were shown after he defeated Goliath, whereas Michelangelo’s statue portrays him before the battle. You can visit the statue, restored from 2003-2004, at the Accademia Gallery.

Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

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A painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus was made in the mid-1480s. Depicting the goddess Venus arriving at the shore after her birth, the painting is probably one of the most famous in the world. Venus’s nudity was a groundbreaking depiction at the time. Christian inspiration was dominant during the Middle Ages, and The Birth of Venus would have been quite shocking for a typical person at the time. It’s also known for being painted on canvas, which was also new for the time. The artist is widely celebrated as one of the best of the era for his contributions to the Renaissance movement. Today, the Birth of Venus is located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence – a wonderful place to visit for all things Renaissance.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

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The Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. Located in Vatican City in a large papal chapel (now one of the most visited places in all of Europe), the artwork is a true masterpiece. The Creation of Adam, finished in 1512, is the centerpiece of it all, a magnificent image in which God outstretches his arm to Adam, giving life to the first man. It’s been said that the red cloth surrounding God resembles both an anatomically correct brain and uterus, creating speculations about the specific meaning. Later on, The Last Judgement was painted on the wall by Michelangelo from 1536-1541. A depiction of the Second Coming of Christ, human souls rise and descent to their fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by prominent saints in the image. No matter your religious affiliation, the room is something to behold.