Where to start with Italian art? It has given us masters all the way from the Roman Empire to the Futurists and beyond. Their creations fill the world’s museums – and can enliven your own home or office with the thousands of reproductions available in our Art department.
One of the most celebrated paintings ever is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (c.1503-06), famously housed – and thronged like a celebrity – in the Louvre Museum in Paris:
Mona Lisa’s facial expression continues to cause a stir: is she smiling, or smirking, or neutral? We will be gazing and guessing forever at this portrait, whose mysterious eyes follow us from every angle. Try for yourself.
Another icon of the Italian Renaissance spans the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican, which the acclaimed Michelangelo took five years to complete. At its heart, The Creation of Adam (1511) shows God’s and Adam’s index fingers reaching toward each other and never quite touching:
It is thought to depict the creation story of the Book of Genesis, in which God gives life to Adam as the very first human. The Mona Lisa may be its only rival in fame.
Just as Michelangelo was covering this chapel with frescos, Raphael gave us his own: The School of Athens (1510-11). Also in the Vatican, it presents ancient Greek philosophers from Plato to Aristotle – some say they’re all there (though finding them is like a mega Where’s Waldo?):
Bravo a tutti!