Italian Renaissance

Quattrocento is the Italian term that means "four hundred" for the years belonging to the fifteenth century. It was one of the most important periods of European art and culture. It started in Italy and it is the first phase of the movement known as Renaissance.

Sandro Botticelli's Annunciation, painted from 1489-1490, is an example of Quattrocento art.



The Quattrocento (1401-1500) began in Florence, promoted by the Medici family.[1] At this time the figure of the artist and creator was imposed at the expense of anonymity. Man was considered the most perfect work of God, in the early renaissance artists.

In this century art painting techniques evolve, getting the "perspective", and in sculpture comes an improvement based on the imitation of classical Greek and Roman art. Even in architecture there was a return to the lines of Roman monuments.

Lorenzo de' Medici encouraged a lot of his countrymen to commission works from Florence's leading artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The best artists (after the genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who worked mainly during the Cinquecento) of this period are:

The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli
  • Sculpture:[2] the sculptors were interested in representing the human body, such as Donatello and Ghiberti.
  • Painting: paintings applied in perspective, representing the depth, as Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Sandro Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Filippo Lippi and Andrea Mantegna. In 1470, Botticelli paints the famous Birth of Venus, in Florence.
  • Architecture: architects sought introducing space domain and provided simple elements such as Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti.

In Literature the Quattrocento is famous mainly because of Niccolò Machiavelli and Ludovico Ariosto. Indeed, the fundamental characteristic of this literary epoch is that it perfected itself in every kind of art, in particular uniting the essentially Italian character of its language with classicism of style. This period lasted until about a few years after 1494 when Charles VIII of France descended into Italy, marking the beginning of Italy's foreign domination and political decadence.

The famous literary men of the Quattrocento had been educated in the culture created in the preceding century. Niccolò Machiavelli was born in 1469, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Ludovico Ariosto in 1474, Jacopo Nardi in 1476, Gian Giorgio Trissino in 1478, Francesco Guicciardini in 1482, Pietro Pomponazzi in 1462, Marcello Adriani Virgilio in 1464 and Baldassare Castiglione in 1468.

The Renaissance music of Quattrocento was centered around Bartolomeo da Bologna. Indeed, after the "Burgundian School" came to an end, Italy became the leading exponent of Renaissance music and continued its innovation with the Venetian and (somewhat more conservative) Roman Schools of composition.

  1. "Medici Family - - Encyclopædia Britannica".
  2. "Sculpture in Quattrocento". Archived from the original on 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2013-05-11.


  • Pullan, Brian S. History of Early Renaissance Italy. London: Lane, 1973.
  • Zuffi, Stefano. Il Quattrocento. Electa editrice. Milano, 2004. ISBN 88-370-2315-4