To round off this series of articles providing an outline of the Italian Renaissance, I here offer a timeline of some of the milestone paintings which marked most of the changes which took place. These inevitably exclude many of the finest paintings in favour of those which are the first surviving examples of the achievements of the Renaissance.
Dante Alighieri (Florence) completes his Divine Comedy.
Secular paintings with social and political commentary, commissioned for the Council Room of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena: Effects of Good Government in the City, Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Siena).
Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) writes his Il Canzoniere.
Plague in Florence.
Giovanni Boccacchio (Florence) completes his Decameron.
Filippo Brunelleschi devises optically correct linear perspective projection (Florence).
The earliest surviving painting in which Brunelleschi’s principles were fully utilised to create a rigorously correct perspective projection with a single vanishing point: Holy Trinity, Masaccio (Florence).
Leon Battista Alberti’s Della pittura (On Painting) published, with a simplified technique of perspective (Florence).
High realism in figures and the folds in fabrics: Madonna and Child, Domenico Ghirlandaio (Florence).
First masterpiece painted in oil paints, using walnut oil as its binder: Saint Jerome in his Study, Antonello da Messina (Messina, Sicily)
Mythological narrative, female nudes, patron Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici: Primavera (Spring), Sandro Botticelli (Florence).
Contemporary literary narrative (Boccaccio’s Decameron, highly secular), female nude, commissioned as a wedding present by Lorenzo de’ Medici: The Story of Nastagio Degli Onesti I, Sandro Botticelli (Florence).
Piero della Francesca’s De Prospectiva Pingendi (On Perspective for Painting) published, with the first complete account of perspective (Florence).
Pyramidal (triangular) composition, advanced oil techniques: The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci (Florence).
First landscape (wholly secular), commissioned by Gabriele Vendramin, nouveau riche and collector: The Tempest, Giorgione (Venice).
Lifelike modelling of flesh and surface textures of fabrics: Portrait of a Cardinal, Raphael (Florence, Rome).
Visible brushstrokes, Mannerism: Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine, Parmigianino (Parma, Florence).
Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists published (Florence).
Baroque, chiaroscuro: Narcissus, Caravaggio (Milan, Rome).
Of the twelve painters named above, eight were born in, worked in, or had strong associations with Florence.