The History of Art And The Curious Lives of Famous Painters



Search:: Artists Alphabetically   Artists by Country   Artists by Century   Artists by Movement

Andrea del Verrocchio


One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

  Florentine Painter of the  Early Renaissance

Education - apprenticed to a goldsmith Giuliano Verrocchio

Cause of Death - According to Renaissance biographer Giorgio Vasari when reminiscing about  Andrea del Verrocchio untimely demise  "So he mended his first model, and cast it in bronze; but he did not perfectly finish it, for being heated in casting it, he caught a chill, of which he died in a few days."

 Artist Bio

Verrocchio' s workshop was the first one in Florence where oil-painting was systematically carried on. He also guided Florence landscape painting into new paths. In contrast to the earlier Florentines, who had lost themselves in elaborate detail and caused the  most distant objects to gleam in unbroken colors. Verrocchio had a taste for simple plains, which he depicted with certain plein air tendencies. His favorite hour was the twilight, when the trees stand out in black from the light grey heaven and the cool moisture sinks over withered dusty plains.  But even more characteristic of the impression of his pictures is the dainty grace which he endeavors to render facial expressions and motion. While the figures of Donatello and Castigno hold their hands wide open and extend the second finger, Verrocchio merely bend the little finger -- a detail which alone is significant of the change of taste; there, energy; here, an almost effected delicacy.  Noli me tangere is the inscription upon his portrait of Pippo Spano, though in a very different since. Verrocchio himself felt what a delicate, fragile ideal he substituted for the mighty, powerful figures of the older masters. He was the first to depict a dainty Christ child in place of a robust, healthy child; to give to the features of the Madonna a touch of that soft enchanting smile associated with Leonardo's name. -- Richard Muther, The History of Modern Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896


Art historian, Bernhard Berenson, 
 states "Verrocchio the first to feel that a faithful reproduction of the contours is not landscape, that the painting of nature is an art distinct from the painting of the figure. He scarcely knew where the difference lay, but felt that light and atmosphere play an entirely different part in each, and that in landscape these have at least as much importance as tactile values. A vision of plein air, vague I must grant, seems to have hovered before him, and, feeling his powerlessness to cope with it in full effects of light such as he attempted in his earlier pictures, he deliberately chose the twilight hour, when, in Tuscany, on fine days, the trees stand out almost black against a sky of light opalescent grey. To render this subduing, soothing effect of the coolness and the dew after the glare and dust of the day—the effect so matchlessly given in Gray’s “Elegy”—seemed to be his first desire as a painter, and in presence of his “Annunciation” (in the Uffizi), we feel that he succeeded as only one other Tuscan succeeded after him, that other being his own pupil Leonardo."

Characteristics Of The Renaissance Period

Classical humanism, was a major factor of the Italian Renaissance. This philosophical movement was based on the idea that every persons life had value and dignity. Humanism also stressed  man's position in the natural world. The Humanists  believed modern man should look to the classical writings and art of the ancient Greeks and Romans as exemplary guides for ethical living and scholarship. Francesco Petrarch,1304-1374,  called the Father of Humanism, Italian Intellectual, Poet, and Humaniststated, "No one intellect should ever strive for distinction in more than one pursuit. Those who boast of preeminence in many arts are either divinely endowed or utterly shameless or simply mad. Who ever heard of such presumption in olden times, on the part of either Greeks or men of our own race? It is a new practice, a new kind of effrontery. To-day men write up over their doors inscriptions full of vainglory, containing claims which, if true, would make them, as Pliny puts it, superior even to the law of the land.. ."

During the Renascence the spirit of an era awoke, revitalized with knowledge and creativity. Although art still served a specific functions, which were primarily religious, painters added more of their individual spirit and personal vision to their creations. John Ruskin, famous art historian declared, "The art of any country is the exponent of its social and political virtues . The art, or general productive and formative energy, of any country, is an exact exponent of its ethical life. you can have noble art only from noble persons, associated under laws fitted to their time and circumstance."

The major painters of the Renaissance were not only artists but men of great genius who gave the world their great intellectual gifts. Florentine and Venetian painting were both formed by extraordinary personalities. These independent creative geniuses tackled mathematical, artistic and philosophical problems of the highest interest, and presented solutions that have never lost their value. The sense of humanism pervading renaissance painting is still palpable. The painters touched on a multitude of  issues regarding the human condition - death, love, reason, religion, universal morality, social problems.

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  iconoclast, Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism. Paradise



Require more facts and information about the painter and the artists of the renaissance era? Poke around every nook and cranny of the known universe for information this subject. Search Here If you like this page and wish to share it, you are welcome to link to it, with our thanks.

If you feel you have worthwhile information you would like to contribute we would love to hear from you. We collect essential biographical information and artist quotes from folks all over the globe and appreciate your participation. When submitting please, if possible, site the source and provide English translation. Email to  
  Milanese School,
Ferrara School
Sienese School
Florentine School
Venetian School
Early Renaissance
High Renaissance
 Northern Renaissance

Popular Questions About  Renaissance Art History

What is the difference between Italian Renaissance art and Northern Renaissance art?

How did the Black Death impact  European art history?

How did the Inquisition impact  European art history?

What was the influence of the Medici Academy on Renaissance painters?

What was the Bonfire of the Vanities?

Who were the greatest painters of the Renaissance?