Famous Italian Painters

Famous Italian Painters – The Top Italian Artists to Know

Italian artists have played a great role in influencing the art world of Europe through the development of various art movements and art styles that emerged through painting. In this article, we will introduce you to the top 15 most famous Italian painters from art history that have shaped major art movements across the Renaissance. Read on for more on these eclectic and studious personalities!



An Italian History of Painting

In Italy, artists of the Middle Ages and Renaissance helped propel six major developments in painting that significantly benefited art history and influenced the development of the medium itself. Many great master painters were products of the Renaissance, which was a period in history acknowledged for the rapid development of multiple disciplines, which further impacted the arts.

Italian painting emerged as early as the Roman Empire and can be identified at Italian sites such as Pompeii with the remains of colorful wall paintings. Northern Italy was a hub for Byzantine art, which combined elements of religion, dramatic scenes, realism, and influences from the remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Italian Renaissance ArtistsLady with an Ermine (c. 1489 – 1491) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the Renaissance, Italy was seen as the “birthplace” of art, which produced many famous Italian painters and continued to churn out artists with incredible talent following the introduction of cultural tourism. Popular movements led by Neoclassicism, Baroque painting, Mannerism, and High Renaissance artworks were the essence of Italian painting and were best demonstrated by famous Italian painters like Giotto, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Andrea Pozzo.



The Top 15 Most Famous Italian Painters in Art History

Although the personalities of some of the most renowned Italian artists are questionable, one can still look at their art to gauge the role that the artist plays in the outcome of the artwork and its emerging art style. Now we will take a look at some of the most famous Italian painters who provided us with some of the most exquisite Italian artworks.


Giotto Di Bondone (1267 – 1337)

Artist NameGiotto di Bondone
Date of Birth c. 1267
Date of Death 8 January 1337
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesProto-Renaissance, Italian Renaissance, and Late Gothic
MediumsPainting, and frescoes
Most Famous Paintings●      Adoration of the Magi (1305)

●      Lamentation (1306)

●      Kiss of Judas (1306)

●      Ognissanti Madonna (c. 1310)

●      Peruzzi Altarpiece (c. 1322)

Giotto di Bondone is the most famous Italian artist and one of the most talented 13th-century painters of the proto-Renaissance period. Better known as Giotto, the Italian artist was a primary figure in shifting the dominant art style of the 13th century from Byzantine approaches to the introduction of human emotion in figural paintings.

Giotto was a Florence-based artist whose works have influenced many Italian masters.

Famous Italian Painters to KnowPortrait of Giotto di Bondone from Five Famous Men from the Italian Renaissance (1490s); Florentine School, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The prodigy was discovered by Giorgio Vasari after Giotto demonstrated incredible talent from an early age without any formal training. Some of Giotto’s most famous Italian Renaissance artworks include the Adoration of the Magi (1305), which portrays an accurate depiction of the comet, historically dubbed as the Star of Bethlehem.


Duccio di Buoninsegna (1278 – 1318)

Artist NameDuccio di Buoninsegna
Date of Birth c. Active 1278
Date of Death 1318
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian Middle Ages, religious art, and Byzantine
Most Famous Paintings●      Rucellai Madonna (1285)

●      Madonna and Child (c. 1290 – 1300)

●      Maestà (1308 – 1311)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, also known as Duccio, was a famous Tuscany-based artist who was primarily active between 1278 and his death in 1318. Buoninsegna was one of the most famous early Italian painters who were in incredible demand by government institutions in his time. Buoninsegna contributed to many religious commissions for religious buildings across Italy and is considered to be the most famous painter of the Middle Ages.

Buoninsegna is also credited as a pioneer of the Sienese Gothic style as well as popular painting styles of the 14th century.

Italian PaintersMaestà (1308 – 1311) by Duccio di Buoninsegna; Duccio di Buoninsegna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Historical records about Duccio suggest that he was abandoned by his family after he accumulated a few debts and fines and also indicated that the artist had issues managing his life and finances. Duccio’s standard style was led by his approaches, which involved egg-based tempera on wooden panels with gold leaf. Duccio was also one of the few Italian artists who conquered tempera painting and was greatly praised for his precise handling of the medium.


Segna di Buonaventura (1298 – 1326/1331)

Artist NameSegna di Buonaventura
Date of Birth c. Active 1298
Date of Death 1326 or 1331
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesByzantine
Most Famous Paintings●      Christ Blessing (c. 1311)

●      The Crucifixion (c. 1315)

●      Madonna and Child with Nine Angels (c. 1315)

●      Saint John the Evangelist (c. 1320)

Segna di Buonaventura was a famous Italian painter of the proto-Renaissance era who was popular at the Sienese school. Buonaventura’s work is characterized by elegant Byzantine lines with careful selection and blends of colors. Not much is known about the early Italian Renaissance artist other than the fact that both his sons were also later enrolled at the Sienese school and the artist was most active between the years 1298 and 1331. Some of his most notable surviving works include his contributions to the convent of Lecceto in 1317 and a panel painting for the Palazzo Publico.

Buonaventura’s subject matter revolved around religious subjects with many of his works housed in collections by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as well as the Honolulu Museum of Art, among a few other international collections.

Top Italian PaintingsMadonna and Child (1325) by Segna di Buonaventura; Segna di Bonaventura, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Giovanni Bellini (1430 – 1516)

Artist NameGiovanni Bellini
Date of Birth c. 1430
Date of Death 29 November 1516
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesVenetian painting, and Italian Renaissance
Most Famous Paintings●      Agony in the Garden (1465)

●      Madonna del Prato (1505)

●      Madonna and Child (1510)

●      Drunkenness of Noah (1515)

Giovanni Bellini was a popular Italian Renaissance painter who thrived during the 15th century and pioneered the genre of Venetian painting. Bellini was raised among artists with his elder brother Gentile Bellini receiving more recognition than Giovanni and his brother-in-law being another renowned painter, Andrea Mantegna. Bellini’s talents were found in the field of Venetian painting, for which he was admired and credited with being a revolutionary agent in influencing the genre to accept more “sensuous and colorist” styles.

Bellini was also an inspirational figure to his later student Titian who drew from his fluency in painting atmospheric landscapes and images with detailed shading.

Italian PaintingsSelf-Portrait (c. 1500) by Giovanni Bellini; Giovanni Bellini, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506)

Artist NameAndrea Mantegna
Date of Birth c. 1431
Date of Death 13 September 1506
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesPaduan School, and Italian Renaissance
Most Famous Paintings●      Agony in the Garden (1458 – 1460)

●      San Sebastian (1480)

●      Lamentation of Christ (1480)

●      Parnassus (1497)

Andrea Mantegna was perhaps one of the most popular and influential Italian Renaissance artists of his time, who was also a keen learner of Roman archaeology. Mantegna’s father-in-law was the famed Renaissance painter Jacopo Bellini who pioneered the greater art style of Northern Italy. Mantegna was not afraid to experiment with art, which was reflected in his work. He incorporated visual elements of sculpture through his “stone-like” figures and played with perspective techniques by lowering the horizon in his paintings and evoking a sense of monumentality.

Mantegna was also the proud owner of a leading print workshop that operated in 13th-century Venice.

Italian ArtworkBust of Andrea Mantegna, attributed to Gianmorco Cavalli (1510s); Gian Marco Cavalli [?], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510)

Artist NameAlessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (also known as Sandro Botticelli)
Date of Birth c. 1445
Date of Death 17 May 1510
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesFlorentine painting, High Renaissance, and Italian Renaissance
Most Famous Paintings●      Primavera (1482)

●      Mars and Venus (1483)

●      The Birth of Venus (1486)

●      The Mystical Nativity (1501)

Another famous artist who was invited to showcase his talents at the Sistine Chapel was Sandro Botticelli, who is most famous for his painting, The Birth of Venus (1486). Botticelli specialized in many religious and mythology-based Renaissance paintings, which demonstrated his skill in the Early Renaissance Gothic style. In Renaissance Italy, artists relied on the patronage of prominent societal figures to support their careers.

Botticelli’s career took a hit toward the latter stages after his affiliation with the Medici family who stopped his patronage. Despite the decline in his career, Botticelli still left us with some of the most well-recognized Italian paintings, including Primavera (1482) and The Mystical Nativity (1501).

Famous Italian ArtSelf-portrait by Sandro Botticelli within his painting Adoration of the Magi (c. 1475); Sandro Botticelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Artist NameLeonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
Date of Birth 15 April 1452
Date of Death 2 May 1519
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian High Renaissance, design, figurative, portraiture, religious art, landscape art, and human anatomy
MediumsPainting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, and science
Most Famous Paintings●      Annunciation (1472 – 1476)

●      Lady with an Ermine (1489 – 1491)

●      The Last Supper (1492 – 1498)

●      Mona Lisa (1503)

The brilliant multidisciplinary artist and among the top three most famous Italian painters of all time, Leonardo da Vinci represented the height of the Renaissance through his art. Today, Da Vinci’s works easily sell for hundreds of millions of dollars, which may seem ridiculous but the genius artist’s reputation and contribution to the Italian Renaissance were so profound that his paintings speak for themselves.

Leonardo da Vinci was responsible for creating perhaps the most famous Italian artwork, the Mona Lisa (1503), which is housed at the Louvre Museum. He is also recognized as the creator of the world’s most expensive painting, Salvator Mundi (1499 – 1510), which was bought by Mohammed bin Salman.

Male Famous Italian PaintersPresumed self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1512; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564)

Artist NameMichelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Date of Birth 6 March 1475
Date of Death 18 February 1564
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian High Renaissance, Renaissance, and frescoes
MediumsPainting, architecture, sculpture, and poetry
Most Famous Paintings●      The Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508 – 1512)

●      The Creation of Adam (1510)

●      The Last Judgment (1534 – 1541)

Michelangelo Buonarroti, better known as Michelangelo, was one of the most famous Italian Renaissance artists whose legendary contributions to the Sistine Chapel went on to influence many great painters. Michelangelo was a multi-talented painter who also took a liking to poetry, architecture, and sculpture. Michelangelo was a master Italian painter whose frescoes at the Sistine Chapel were the highlight of his career and featured his second-largest fresco, The Last Judgement (Il Giudizio Universale) (c. 1534 – 1541), which contained over 300 figures portraying the Second Coming of Christ.

Other significant portions of the Sistine Chapel include The Creation of Adam (c. 1510). The Last Judgement was criticized for its original display of nudity, which placed Michelangelo as an artist ahead of his time.

Famous Italy ArtistsPortrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra, 1545; Attributed to Daniele da Volterra, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Giorgione (1477 – 1510)

Artist NameGiorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco (also known as Girogione)
Date of Birth c. 1477
Date of Death 25 October 1510
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian High Renaissance, Italian Renaissance, and Venetian painting
Most Famous Paintings●      Judith (1504)

●      Laura (1506)

●      The Tempest (1508)

●      Sleeping Venus (1510)

Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco, better known as Giorgione, was one of the Venetian school’s best painters of the High Renaissance. Giorgione succumbed to early death in his thirties and was most famous for the poetic quality of his work. The true meaning of his paintings has not been definitely pinpointed and thus makes this Italian painter one of the most elusive painters in European art history.

Giorgione’s paintings did reflect some of the styles pioneered by the Venetian school, including a linear disegno style and the relationship between the use of color and mood.

Italy Artists to KnowSelf-portrait as David (c. 1508) by Girogione; Giorgione, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Some of Giorgione’s most famous Italian paintings include Sleeping Venus (1510), which was completed by Titian after Giorgione’s death. Giorgione invested in the use of a delicate painting technique used to create perspective and depict light, called sfumato, which coincided with Da Vinci’s use of it at the time. It is believed that Da Vinci learned such techniques from illuminated manuscripts upon the introduction of oil painting and this was where Giorgione gained inspiration.


Raphael (1483 – 1520)

Artist NameRaffaello Sanzio da Urbino (also known as Raphael)
Date of Birth 1483
Date of Death 6 April 1520
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesHigh Renaissance
Most Famous Paintings●      The School of Athens (1509 – 1511)

●      The Sistine Madonna (1512)

●      Transfiguration (1520)

●      La Fornarina (1520)

Raphael was the definition of a child prodigy who, not long after developing his painting skills under his father, surpassed him and took over his workshop at the age of 11! Raphael was also a child of refined taste since one of his favorite artists was Leonardo da Vinci, to whom he dedicated a series of Madonna paintings. Raphael’s contributions to the 15th-century art world only grew in influence and recognition with some of his most famous works being celebrated for clean compositions and a display of human grandeur.

His most famous Italian paintings include Madonna in the Meadow (1505 – 1506) and The Transfiguration (1516 – 1520). Madonna di San Sisto (The Sistine Madonna) (1512) is one painting that is often recognized for its cheeky little cherubs at the bottom of the Madonna.

Famous Italian PaintingsPresumed self-portrait of Raphael, aged approximately 23 (between 1504 and 1506); Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Titian (1488 – 1576)

Artist NameTiziano Vecelli (also known as Titian)
Date of Birth c. 1488/1490
Date of Death 27 August 1576
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesRenaissance, Italian High Renaissance, and Italian Renaissance
Most Famous Paintings●      Sacred and Profane Love (1514)

●      Assumption of the Virgin (1515 – 1518)

●      Venus of Urbino (1534)

●      Danaë and the Shower of Gold (1553 – 1554)

●      Pieta (1575)

Tiziano Vecelli, better recognized by his artist name, Titian, was among the greatest Italian painters of the High Renaissance. Titian’s oeuvre covered religious, mythological, and pastoral subjects across portraiture, landscape art, and the occasional altarpiece. Titian is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 15th and 16th centuries whose works exhibited his mastery over the integration of luminous colors and is credited with being one of the leading artists of the Venetian school.

From the young age of 10, Titian was sent away with his brother to learn the art of painting and trained under the era’s best painter, Giovani Bellini.

Iconic Italian PaintersA close-up of Titian’s Self-Portrait (c. 1562); Titian, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Titian’s most dynamic paintings includes Bacchus and Ariadne (1522), which was created within a year. The painting was a commissioned piece by the Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso I d’Este, and depicts a famous narrative from mythology relating to Princess Ariadne who falls in love with Theseus but is later abandoned by the Athenian hero.


Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)

Artist NameMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Date of Birth 29 September 1571
Date of Death 18 July 1610
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesRenaissance, Baroque, still-life, portraiture, and chiaroscuro
Most Famous Paintings●      Boy with a Basket of Fruit (1593 – 1594)

●      Medusa (c. 1597)

●      Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599 – 1602)

●      The Denial of Saint Peter (1610)

Caravaggio was a Milan-based Italian painter with a rather aggressive tendency that later resulted in the murder of a man. Caravaggio was an eccentric painter who is still regarded as one of the most famous Italian painters, primarily for his contribution to the genre of Baroque painting.

Caravaggio led the Baroque movement by accentuating his paintings using high contrasts of light and darkness encapsulated by a painting technique called the chiaroscuro method.

Italy ArtistsChalk portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni, c. 1621; Ottavio Leoni, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The artist’s most famous paintings include Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1598 – 1602) and Medusa (1595 – 1598). Medusa is one of the most famous Italian Renaissance artworks from the Baroque period that was once part of the Persian armor of a mannequin and is the perfect demonstration of Caravaggio’s affinity toward the expression of intense human emotions to highlight the sublime moment between life and death.


Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1656)

Artist NameArtemisia Gentileschi (also known as Artemisia Lomi)
Date of Birth 8 July 1593
Date of Death c. 1656
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesBaroque, Caravaggio, allegory, myths, and biblical narratives
MediumsPainting, and drawing
Most Famous Paintings●      Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist (c. 1610 – 1615)

●      Venus and Cupid (c. 1625 – 1630)

●      Lot and His Daughters (1635 – 1638)

●      Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638 – 1639)

Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most prolific Italian painters of her time, who also produced some of the most intriguing allegorical and mythological Baroque artworks of the Italian Renaissance. Gentileschi, also known as Artemisia Lomi, was a master painter who thrived despite the difficulties that women in art had to undergo during the 16th and 17th centuries. She was also the first femme member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.

Gentileschi was inspired by masters like Caravaggio who had a talent for Baroque painting, which Gentileschi uniquely applied in her own way to elevate the depiction of female figures. Gentileschi thus represents one of the first examples of the femme gaze in Italian Renaissance painting.

Top Italian PaintersSelf-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638) by Artemisia Gentileschi; Artemisia Gentileschi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665)

Artist NameElisabetta Sirani
Date of Birth 8 January 1638
Date of Death 28 August 1665
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesBaroque, and Italian Renaissance
MediumsPainting, printmaking, and drawing
Most Famous Paintings●      Allegory of Music (c. 1659)

●      Timoclea Kills the Captain of Alexander the Great (1659)

●      Virgin and Child (1663)

●      Portrait of Vincenzo Ferdinando Ranuzzi as Amor (1663)

●      Portia Wounding Her Thigh (1664)

Elisabetta Sirani was a leading Italian Baroque artist of her time and master printmaker whose impact on the Italian art space was immense. Sirani pioneered the founding of an academy aimed at encouraging women to practice art as a formal career but, unfortunately, died mysteriously at the young age of 27 and did not complete her oeuvre.  Sirani was based in Bologna where she grew to become the city’s best painter.

Some of her most famous Italian Renaissance artworks include Timoclea Kills the Captain of Alexander the Great (1659), which was a demonstration of her fighting spirit toward men who undermined the power of women and the Allegory of Music (c. 1659).

Female Famous Italian PaintersSelf-portrait (1658) by Elisabetta Sirani; Elisabetta Sirani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Andrea Pozzo (1642 – 1709)

Artist NameAndrea Pozzo
Date of Birth 30 November 1642
Date of Death 31 August 1709
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesBaroque, and Italian Renaissance
MediumsPainting, and drawing
Most Famous Paintings●      Apotheosis of Hercules in Liechtenstein palace (1675)

●      Apotheosis of Saint Ignatius (1685 – 1694)

●      Flight into Egypt (c. 17th century)

Andrea Pozzo was a well-known pioneer of Baroque painting as well as an Italian Jesuit Brother and art theoretician. Pozzo was incredibly skilled at painting massive frescoes with many of his works showcasing his hand at architecture as well as creating an illusion of a three-dimensional space. As such, Pozzo was one of the most prolific Baroque-era painters who contributed to the designs and artistic activities of many Jesuit Order-related projects.

Some of his most famous works include frescoes on the nave ceiling of the Roman church of Sant’Ignazio and his decorative works at the San Francis Xavier church.

Famous Italian Art WorksSelf-portrait (1686 – 1687) by Andrea Pozzo; Andrea Pozzo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


From artists of the late Middle Ages to the High Renaissance, these famous Italian artists demonstrated their best hand at painting and piloted some of the most well-known painting techniques in European art history. The development of painting through medium, technique, and experimentation with popular subjects was evident in the works of these master Italian artists.



Take a look at our Italian painters webstory here!



Frequently Asked Questions


Who Was the Most Famous Italian Painter in the Middle Ages?

The most famous Italian painter in the Middle Ages was Giotto di Bondone, who was an artist and architect from Florence that thrived in his artistic career during the late Middle Ages. His artwork style is categorized under the proto-Renaissance and Gothic eras.


Who Were the Most Famous Italian Painters of the Renaissance?

The most famous Italian painters of the Renaissance were Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, all of whom are credited with holding a significant influence over the broader art context of the period.


Who Were the Most Famous Italian Painters of the Venetian High Renaissance?

The most famous Italian painters of the Venetian High Renaissance were Titian, Giovanni Bellini, and Giorgione, all of whom made significant impressions on the art styles of Northern Italy.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Famous Italian Painters – The Top Italian Artists to Know.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. April 5, 2023. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-italian-painters/

Anthony, J. (2023, 5 April). Famous Italian Painters – The Top Italian Artists to Know. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-italian-painters/

Anthony, Jordan. “Famous Italian Painters – The Top Italian Artists to Know.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, April 5, 2023. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-italian-painters/.

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