The High Renaissance in Italy is generally described as the period from around 1500, although like the starting date of the Renaissance itself the dates are not set in stone.
Work from ancient Greek and Roman sculptures and buildings had been admired and studied by generations of artists and the explosion in art and creativity reached its pinnacle in quite a narrow timescale, up to about 1530. During this period the classical arts of antiquity had been fully recaptured and the accumulation of knowledge that started with Giotto was fully expressed in the work of the Great Masters.
For many, the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning
of the sixteenth, the Cinquecento, was viewed with relief. The greatly feared
end of the world, thought by many to coincide with the end of the century
(1500) had not happened. The painters of this new century reflected the new
sense of optimism felt by many. They were also aware of the debt they owed to
those pioneering artists that had gone before, standing on the shoulders of
previous generations of great artist’s and building on that accumulated
knowledge became the ambition. Oil paint was now the medium of choice,
perspective had been mastered as had the skills of facial expression and depth
High Renaissance artists were very often skilled in many fields,
Leonardo da Vinci was, of course, a master of many different sciences and
Michelangelo was a gifted poet, painter and sculptor. The third member of the
trilogy of artists, who are often viewed as ultimate examples of high
renaissance art, Raphael, was an architect and extraordinarily gifted painter.
of the period’s greatest works are Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes,
Raphael’s paintings in the Vatican Stanze and the northern Italian artist Correggio’s
decoration of the dome of Parma Cathedral. After the sack of Rome in 1527 by German mercenary troops, and the death of Raphael in 1520, Pope Paul III Farnese oversaw possibly the final great High Renaissance work executed in Rome, Michelangelo's Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.