Italian art: The High Renaissance

The High Renaissance

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael vied with one another in Florence and in Rome to create a perfect art. Raphael's idealized Madonnas and portraits and his Vatican frescoes exerted a tremendous influence over European artists. Whereas his works have come down to us fully realized, many of the complete artistic schemes of Michelangelo and Leonardo remain largely on paper.

Leonardo has left only a small group of magnificent easel paintings and one grand but deteriorated fresco, The Last Supper in Milan. His unparalleled, incredibly versatile genius is most clearly revealed in his notebooks, replete with extraordinary plans of all varieties. Michelangelo's magnificent ceiling and Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican are the only monumental projects in painting, sculpture, or architecture that materialized according to his plans. Most of his sculptural masterpieces are fragments of vast designs that were never executed in their entirety.

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