Renaissance Art

The Adoration of Shepherds by Andrea Mantegna

This is one of Andrea’s famous paintings. He painted it shortly after 1450 (Adrogneh, 2008). It is painted on tempera on canvas. It was transferred from a wood panel. It measures 15 ¾ x 21 7/8 inches. The painted surface of the art occupies 14 7/8×21 inches. This painting is housed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (Adrogneh, 2009).

Like most of Mantegna’s works, this is done in fresco. It is done in distemper, egg or water based form of paint. This is because at his time, oil paint has not reached Italy (Adrogneh, 2009). Renaissance is a period that marked the rebirth of religiosity in the society. As such, the paintings and other works of art had to reflect this. Mantegna’s The Adoration of Shepherds is inspired by a biblical story. It is in the gospel of Luke (2:8-20) where three shepherds came to witness and adore the birth of Jesus.

The three dimensional painting depicts the shepherds adoring the baby Christ. Joseph and Mary are also in the painting. Mantegna makes use of bright colors to bring out the details of his painting. Note the brightly colored sky that forms the background of the painting. It also seems that Flemish art did influence this painting. This is clearly brought out by the rustic faces and worn clothes of the shepherds (Adrogneh, 2008). The painting has a lot of symbolism in it. As earlier indicated, it depicts shepherds supplicating themselves before the child. This is a representation of the command that the child already has and will continue to have throughout his life.

The Last Communion of Saint  Jerome by Sandro Botticelli

Renaissance Art

This is another three dimension painting by a renaissance master. Its medium is tempera and gold on wood. It measures 131/2 x 10 inches (Lorraine, 2009). It is housed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It has an exceptionally fine frame. This has a painted lunette carried out by Bartolomeo di Giovanni (Lorraine, 2009).

Botticelli completed this painting around 1490. It was commissioned by Francesco del Pugliese. The latter was a wealthy wool merchant from Florence. This painting has a deeply religious theme. The painting is inspired by a text from the church’s history about the death of Jerome. The text was written by Eusebius, a church historian. It depicts a sick St. Jerome receiving his last communion from Eusebius. Botticelli has cut off one of the walls of the cell to show what is going on inside. The room shown is bare. It is also covered by wicker work. This shows the humble living conditions of St. Jerome, and that is why this painting is used by Christians as a source of spiritual edification.

Madonna Litta

by Leonardo da Vinci

This painting was completed in Milan at around 1481-1497. It is tempera on canvas. But it was transferred from a wood panel. It was intended for the Visconti rulers of Milan (Karlach, 2008). Many critics have argued that this painting was not finished by Leonardo himself. It is true that it might have been designed by Leonardo. But it was completed by one of his students, Boltraffio (Karlach, 2008). The reasons why it is supposed that Leonardo designed is the way the Madonna and her child are placed in a darkened room with windows opening to a mountainous backdrop. However, the awkward position of the child, together with the harsh outlines of the child and mother point to the fact that this was the work of his student. This is also true of the backdrop composed of mountains but devoid of atmosphere. This is unlike Leonardo.

Everything about the picture points to the humanist dreams of Ideal Man (Karlach, 2008). It also points to the desire to lead a harmonious life. This is depicted by the tender way the mother looks at the child, who is peacefully lying on her hands. The coloring of the painting reveals its intrinsic beauty. Madonna is painted dressed in red and blue, while the child is naked. Sense of balance is maintained by painting two windows on either side of the picture. Madonna and her child are at the center, and as such, an illusion of balance is created.

Renaissance Art

Renaissance Art


Adrogneh, N. L. (2008). Great painters of renaissance period. New  York: McGraw-Hill, 267.

Renaissance Art

Karlach, O. I. (2008). A collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 286-289.

Lorraine, P. O. (2009). Renaissance art in contemporary society. 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Publishers, 87.