13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Do you want to know the most famous Italian artists of all time and learn more about them? Let’s dig in together.

Italy holds an incredible artistic legacy, giving birth to some of the biggest names in the art world. While we may recognize their names, their full stories often stay untold. These luminaries have left a lasting mark on art, inspiring today’s creators.

Italian artists have explored a wide range of artistic styles and movements, from the Classical period to the Renaissance, Baroque, and beyond. This diversity showcases their adaptability and willingness to experiment.

Throughout history, these great artists have filled Italy with immense pride. Each master has gifted us with a masterpiece that enhances the art world and deepens our understanding of art and creativity.


13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Without further ado, here are 13 of the most important Italian artists whose fame transcends time.

1. Leonardo da Vinci

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

A true Renaissance man, known for his versatile talents as a painter, sculptor, architect, and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci is well admired not only in Italy but all over the world. He is also deemed one of the greatest painters of all time.

Da Vinci’s most famous creation is the enigmatic Mona Lisa which is permanently protected behind bulletproof glass in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Last Supper, a religious fresco, is still in its original location in the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Considered as a High Renaissance polymath from Florence, da Vinci showed how the scientific method can be applied to all parts of life, even music and art. Some of the special things about his work include the creative methods he used for applying paint, his deep understanding of anatomy, the way he included human figures in his art, and his skillful use of sfumato.

Born Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci on April 15, 1452, in Anchiano, Italy, da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 in France. Although his life spanned just 67 years, his enduring creations continue to amaze and inspire to this day.

2. Michelangelo

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Michelangelo Buonarroti, or simply Michelangelo, was a contemporary of Leonardo. One of the greatest Italian painters ever, he was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, located in the Tuscan province of Arezzo.

Although he was supposed to study grammar while living in Florence as a young man, his love for painting flourished there. Prior to honing his painting skills, however, he had already established himself as an accomplished sculptor. His most famous works are the marble sculptures David and La Pietà.

In addition to sculpture and painting, Michelangelo also dabbled in architecture. His work beautifully combined a deep understanding of the human mind, lifelike portrayal of the physical world, and an unprecedented level of passion and energy. Numerous writers have praised his remarkable talent for transforming stone into lifelike forms and infusing his painted figures with vibrant energy. He also played a vital role in inspiring the art of the Mannerist period, the Counter-Reformation, and the Baroque era as well.

After living for 88 years and creating around 200 sculptures, paintings, and drawings, Michelangelo passed away on February 18, 1564, in Rome. His most famous work as a painter is the fresco ceiling at the Sistine Chapel housed in Vatican City.

3. Raphael

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. He was born on April 6, 1483 (some sources say March 28, 1483), in Urbino, Italy. Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci form the traditional triumvirate of great masters from that era.

Many of Raphael’s masterpieces are religiously related, specifically paintings on ceilings, altar backgrounds, and walls of churches. He was notable for his works at the Vatican Palace, which are comprised of The School of Athens, The Parnassus, Disputa (The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament), and The Cardinal and Theological Virtues.

As another High Renaissance artist, Raphael was also greatly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci’s work. It is shown in his famous Madonna series of paintings like the Madonna of the Goldfinch. His Sistine Madonna, an oil painting, can be found in Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery) in Dresden, Germany.

In addition to being hailed as a “master” painter at a young age, Raphael also possessed talent in architecture. In collaboration with Donato Bramante, he contributed to the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica and assumed the role of lead architect following Bramante’s passing in 1514.

Although he passed away at the tender age of 37 on April 6, 1520, this did not prevent Raphael from becoming one of the most renowned Italian artists throughout history. His works are particularly celebrated for their exquisite beauty and profound emotional resonance.

4. Titian

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Titian, born between 1488 and 1490 in Pieve di Cadore, Italy, is one of the most influential Italian artists in history. He’s renowned for his innovative use of color and light, notably his “layering” technique, adding depth to his works.

Regarded as the best painter of 16th-century Venice, Titian holds the distinction of being the first artist to cater to an international clientele. His portrait paintings stand out for their lifelike portrayal of emotions. He painted notable figures, showcasing his talent for capturing their essence.

Titian’s lengthy career allowed him to refine his skills and explore new styles, with his techniques leaving a lasting impact on later artists such as Rubens, Velázquez, and Rembrandt.

Titian’s famous works like The Assumption of the Virgin (1518), Bacchus and Ariadne (1523), Portrait of Charles V with a Dog (1532), and Venus of Urbino (1534) are celebrated for their composition, emotions, and technical excellence.

One of the most highly esteemed Old Masters, Titian died of the plague on August 27, 1576 in Venice.

5. Masaccio

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone on December 21, 1401, Masaccio is another famous Italian artist from Florence. The name Masaccio is like a playful twist on a nickname for his birthname, Tommaso, which translates to “clumsy” or “messy” Tom. This fun name might have been coined to set him apart from his main partner, another Maso, who became known as Masolino, meaning “little” or “delicate” Tom.

As one of the best artists in the Early Renaissance, Masaccio’s masterpieces are described as realistic and naturalistic. He was notable for using linear perspective to create the illusion of depth in two-dimensional paintings.

One of the most famous masterpieces of Masaccio is the fresco painting called Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1425), which you can find in the Brancacci Chapel of the Santa Maria del Carmine Church in Florence.

Even though Masaccio’s life as an artist did not last that long, as he tragically died at the age of 26 in the summer of 1428, he is still considered the famous Italian artist who started the early Italian Renaissance paintings. In just six short years, Masaccio completely revolutionized Florentine painting, contributing significantly to the foundational concepts and styles of Western art. It’s truly remarkable how impactful his brief life was on the history of art!

6. Giotto

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Giotto’s early life might be surrounded by controversy and uncertainties, but it’s undeniable that he was one of the most famous Italian medieval artists. Born Giotto di Bondone near Florence in c. 1267, he went on to revitalize the art of painting, which some thought had declined in quality during the Middle Ages.

He is famous for his incredible exploration of perspective and pictorial space. Through this, he wonderfully infused a fresh sense of realism into his religious parables.

As a painter, Giotto’s notable and documented commissioned pieces include the 1305 interior frescoes depicting narrative scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (The Life of the Virgin), The Life of Christ, and The Marriage of the Virgin in the Scrovegni Chapel, also known as the Arena Chapel, located in Padua. His double-sized triptych known as the Styfaneschi Altarpiece is currently on display at the Vatican Pinacoteca. Additionally, another altarpiece he created, the Ognissanti Madonna (“Madonna Enthroned”), can be viewed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Giotto’s Bell Tower, located on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, is a magnificent representation of Florentine Gothic architecture from the 14th century. Construction began in 1334, led by Giotto, a prominent artist and architect of that era. The tower was erected adjacent to the church to serve as its bell tower.

Giotto died on January 8, 1337, in Florence, leaving a legacy of innovative art and architecture that significantly influenced the Renaissance period.

7. Donatello

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Born Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi in Florence in 1836, Donatello is considered one of the most famous sculptors of the Renaissance period. He gained recognition for his incredible sculptures made from wood, bronze, and marble. His sculpted figures are groundbreaking, accurately depicting anatomy and even introducing a sense of individuality, although in some of his later works he added a touch of creative exaggeration.

The bronze David, a masterpiece by Donatello, holds a special place in history as the first free-standing nude statue in this material since ancient times. Even though Michelangelo’s well-known marble statue of David is more familiar today, this iconic bronze artwork undoubtedly influenced Michelangelo and other accomplished artists. You can find this remarkable artwork at the Bargello Museum in Florence.

It’s worth noting that Donatello had an affinity for creating sculptures in relief featuring dancing young children, cherubs, and sprites as subjects. One of his works in relief that includes children is the Cantoria frieze, which is a singing gallery at Florence Cathedral. Another example is the Amore-Attis, a 3.4-foot bronze statue of a cupid, housed in the Bargello Museum along with other Donatello masterpieces. On the other hand, Donatello’s marble made semi-schiacciato relief, Pazzi Madonna, can be found in Berlin, Germany.

Donatello passed away in the city of his birth on December 13, 1466.

8. Sandro Botticelli

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

During the Early Renaissance, we encounter another renowned and historically significant Italian artist, Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli – or simply Botticelli. His enchanting, beautiful, and mythological artworks stand out the most.

Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus depicts the goddess of love and beauty, Venus, as the focal point, arriving at the shore. Another notable work is Primavera, a large tempera panel painting featuring mythical characters in a garden. This piece sparked controversy and numerous discussions due to its allegorical nature. In addition to his mystical works, Botticelli created religious pieces, including Madonna paintings and frescoes for the Sistine Chapel.

Born in 1445 in Florence, Botticelli was seven years older than Leonardo da Vinci. However, Botticelli’s painting style is often considered more Gothic than that of the High Renaissance. He died on May 17, 1510, in Florence.

He stood out as a pioneer among Western artists, being one of the first since classical times to portray non-religious themes. This groundbreaking notion that art could bring joy and not solely be tied to religious functions marked a significant advancement in Western artistic expression.

In his lifetime, people absolutely loved his graceful portrayals of the Madonna with Child, his captivating altarpieces, and the way he brought larger-than-life mythological scenes to the canvas.

9. Caravaggio

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Born on September 29, 1571, in Milan, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a painter credited with creating a new style of realistic painting. More famously known as simply Caravaggio, he is another famous Italian artist from the Baroque period.

Caravaggio’s expertise in the chiaroscuro technique was evident in his 1595 painting The Musicians, which is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His first religious painting was Penitent Magdalene (1595), which centers on a brunette girl kneeling on a low chair.

Aside from religious subjects, Caravaggio also based some of his creations on Greek mythology. His creation on canvas and wood, Medusa – which depicts the head of Medusa – is displayed at the Uffizi Gallery.

The use of the tenebrism technique, a heightened form of chiaroscuro, by Caravaggio garnered mixed impressions for his paintings but later earned him recognition as a great artistic visionary. This major shift in technique was demonstrated in the 1600 painting The Calling of St. Matthew, which can be found at the Contarelli Chapel in Rome.

On July 18, 1610, Caravaggio passed away due to an infected wound while en route from Naples to Rome.

10. Gian Lorenzo Bernini

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

During the Baroque era, another famous Italian artist emerged. He was Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a brilliant architect of his time but also excelled and became famous as a sculptor. Born on December 7, 1598 in Naples, Bernini’s earlier work was a collaborative effort with his sculptor father Pietro Bernini.

As a Baroque sculptor, Bernini’s most famous creation is the magestic marble sculpture called Apollo and Daphne (1625). His other works include David (1624), Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius (1619), and The Rape of Proserpina (1622). They can be admired at the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

Bernini also had great talent in designing fountains, with one of his most famous works being the Fiumi Fountain or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in Piazza Navona, Rome. This fountain represents the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Río de la Plata.

As an architect, Bernini was renowned for creating the iconic St. Peter’s Square and contributing to the interior design of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was considered as the Michelangelo of his time. He passed away on November 28, 1680.

11. Bronzino

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Agnolo di Cosimo, more commonly known as Bronzino or Il Bronzino, was an Italian painter associated with the Mannerist style from Florence. His nickname, “Bronzino,” might have originated from his reddish hair or relatively darker complexion.

His art is marked by sculptural forms that seem to gleam, a surface reminiscent of enamel, and the lavish use of high-quality pigments. Bronzino’s notable works are primarily portraits, particularly those of Cosimo de’ Medici, the first Duke of Florence, his wife Eleonora da Toledo, their children, and members of their court. These portraits can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Bronzino is regarded as a prominent figure among Mannerist artists. His portraits are elegant and serene, capturing the genteel beliefs and ideals of the 16th-century Medici dukes in Italy. His mastery of portraiture and his ability to embody the spirit of his time make him a notable and celebrated artist in the art world.

Born in Florence on November 17, 1503, Bronzino spent his entire life there. He died on November 23, 1572 of an unknown illness.

12. Giovanni Bellini

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Giovanni Bellini, an Italian Renaissance painter, came from a family of artists and learned from his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna, and possibly his father Jacopo Bellini.

Bellini’s religious paintings are well-regarded for their deep spiritual impact. Unlike others, he integrated landscapes into his compositions instead of just using them as backgrounds, influencing later artists, especially in the Venetian School. Bellini’s teachings left a mark on the next generation, including Giorgione and Titian, both key figures in shaping the Venetian Renaissance.

He explored the use of oil paint, bringing richer and deeper effects to his works. This innovation played a vital role in establishing oil painting as a Renaissance artist’s primary medium. Notable artworks like St. Francis in the Desert (1480), Madonna with the Christ Child Blessing (1510), and The Feast of the Gods (a collaboration with Titian – 1514) showcase his talent with color, depth, and spirituality, influencing the evolution of Renaissance art.

Giovanni Bellini was born around 1430, possibly in Venice, Italy. He passed away on November 26, 1516, also in Venice. The specific cause of his death is not well-documented.

13. Artemisia Gentileschi

13 Most Famous Italian Artists of All Time

Most of the famous Italian artists of all time happen to be men, but let’s not forget about Artemisia Gentileschi, also known as Artemisia Lomi. She truly stood out, earning a special place in history by becoming the very first woman to join the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence.

Artemisia Gentileschi was a prominent Baroque-style painter known for her powerful depictions of women in mythological and religious contexts. Her paintings often feature themes from biblical stories, and her pieces like Susana and the Elders and Judith Slaying Holofernes showcase her distinctive style. The influence of Artemisia’s own experiences and perspective can be seen in her self-portraits and portrayals of female figures like Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Born on July 8, 1593, in Rome, Gentileschi likely succumbed to the devastating plague that struck the population of Naples in 1656.