25 Artists from the 1500s to Include in Your Picture Study Time

Artists from the 1500s to Include in Your Picture Study Time - ahumbleplace.com

The 1600s are an excellent era from which to choose artists for picture study. The beginning of the century ushered in the end of the Renaissance but still included some of that movement’s most well-known artists. Mannerism dominated much of the middle and later years but eventually gave way to the Baroque style, which remained popular through the 17th century.

In this week’s post, I’m sharing a list of artists to consider for picture study from the 1500s! As I’ve mentioned in the last few posts with these artist lists (you can see the other ones at the end of the post), these are certainly not the only ones to explore. These are, however, some of the ones I’ve enjoyed learning more about either in my college classes or later on as I have pursued more art history knowledge on my own.

I’ve again tried to include a range of styles, nationalities (though the Italians really dominated this list!), and perspectives; however, if you see an artist you feel should be listed here, feel free to leave a comment below!

The Artists

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer, “Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty Eight,” 1500

Nationality: German
Movement: Northern Renaissance

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is one of the biggest names in art history, and it is fitting that this list begins with him. He was passionate about his art, not only the aesthetics of it but also the more technical side, and he spent a great deal of time studying the things he drew and painted. He was highly prolific and left behind an enormous amount of paintings, sketches, and engravings from which to choose for picture study. (I also wrote about Dürer in Volume 2, Issue 4 of Common Place Quarterly.)

Sultan Muhammad

Sultan Muhammad, “The Court of Kayumars, Folio from the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp,” ca. 1522-1525

Nationality: Iranian
Movement: Safavid Period/Herāt school

Sultan Muhammad (ca. 1475-ca. 1550) was a miniaturist painter who decorated many manuscripts of Persian and Islamic mythology for members of the royal class and other nobility. His work is colorful and highly detailed.


Michelangelo, “The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel ceiling,” ca. 1511

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564) was a master of various media, but he enjoyed sculpture the most. He is one of the most well-known names in art history, and including him in your picture study would allow your students to learn about paintings and sculptures that will be referenced throughout their lifetimes.

Kanō Motonobu

Kanō Motonobu, “Eight Views of the Xiao-Xiang Region (Shosho Hakkei),” ca. 1500-1550

Nationality: Japenese
Movement: Muromachi Period/Kanō School

Kanō Motonobu (1476-1559) was known for creating some of the most beautiful and timeless works of Japanese painting. His work as an artist, calligrapher, and teacher remains highly revered to this day.


Giorgione, “The Adoration of the Shepherds,” 1505-1510

Nationality: Italian (active in Venice)
Movement: Renaissance

Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco, aka. Giorgione (1477-1510) was one of the most influential figures of the Italian Renaissance. He had a short career, lasting only a few years, but his works have become some of the most celebrated in the history of art. His paintings are known for their quiet beauty, as well as a little mystery.

Jan Gossaert

Jan Gossaert, “Adoration of the Magi,” 1510-1515

Nationality: Flemish
Movement: Northern Renaissance

Jan Gossaert (ca. 1478-1532 – sometimes also called “Mabuse”) was highly influenced by the work of the Italian Renaissance artists, but he blended that with aspects of the Northern Renaissance painters to create a style that was unique. He painted many portraits and religious scenes. (His “Adoration of the Magi” is included in my Advent Art Devotions Volume IV.)


Raphael, “The Sistine Madonna,” 1513

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Renaissance

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, aka. Raphael (1483-1520), lived a very short life, but within that time, he left the world with some of the greatest works of art that the Renaissance produced. Though he didn’t live long, he was extremely productive before he died, and his oeuvre includes a wide range of subjects from which to choose. (His “The Miraculous Draft of Fishes” is included in my Lenten Art Devotions Volume III.)


Titian, “Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg,” 1548

Nationality: Italian (active in Venice)
Movement: Renaissance/Mannerism

Tiziano Vecelli, aka. Titian (1488-1576), was the quintessential Venetian artist, especially in his use of color. He experimented with different subjects and painted a wide range, including portraits, landscapes, stories from mythology, and more.


Nationality: Italian
Movement: Renaissance/Mannerism

Antonio Allegri da Correggio, aka. Correggio (1489-1534), was another artist who did not live a long life but left an impression on the art world that lasted centuries after his death. His use of color and foreshortening, especially in his frescoes, gave them an almost life-like quality.

Qiu Ying

Qiu Ying, “Towers and Pavilions in Mountains of the Immortals,” 1550

Nationality: Chinese
Movement: Ming Dynasty

Qiu Ying (1494-1552) was a pioneer of the traditional Chinese art style. His artwork has been admired and studied for centuries, and he is viewed as one of the most influential Chinese painters in history.

Hans Holbein the Younger

Hans Holbein the Younger, “The Ambassadors,” 1533

Nationality: German (also active in England)
Movement: Northern Renaissance

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) infused his paintings with realistic details and beautiful colors. He was a master of portraiture, skillfully capturing the personalities of his sitters. He also painted highly detailed Biblical scenes.

Benvenuto Cellini

Benvenuto Cellini, “Perseus with the head of Medusa (Detail),” 1545
Photo by Mary Harrsch

Nationality: Italian (Florentine)
Movement: Mannerism

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) is a wonderful option for studying sculpture. His work includes large and small sculptures; he also painted and sketched, though the latter are more difficult to find. An interesting addition to a study of Cellini would also be the autobiography he wrote when he was 58, which gives a unique glimpse at the life of a 16th-century Florentine artist.


Parmigianino, “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror,” ca. 1524

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, aka. Parmigianino (1503-1540), is the first name that comes to mind when I think of the Mannerist movement. He died young but left behind many pieces from which to choose, including religious paintings, portraits, and sketches in the elongated and dramatic style for which he is so well-known.

Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Bronzino, “Portrait of Eleonora di Toledo,” 1562

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572) was an iconic figure of the 16th-century Italian Late Renaissance period. Giorgio Vasari, who wrote many biographies of Renaissance artists, believed that Bronzino was “the most excellent painter of his time, and the equal of all the ancient masters.” His subject matter included portraits, scenes from mythology, and religious paintings.

Jacopo Bassano

Jacopo Bassano, “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes,” 1545

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Jacopo Bassano (ca. 1510-1592) came from a family of artists and learned his trade from his father before leading his sons on the same path. His oeuvre includes many religious scenes as well as portraits. (His “The Purification of the Temple” is included in my Lenten Art Devotions Volume III.)


Tintoretto, “Saint George and the Dragon,” ca. 1555

Nationality: Italian (Venetian)
Movement: Renaissance/Mannerism

Jacopo Robusti, aka. Tintoretto (1518-1594), was also known as “Il Furioso” for the way and style in which he painted. He was inspired by the work of Michelangelo and Titian, another Venetian painter, and his primarily massive paintings include dramatic scenes with bold colors.

Xu Wei

Xu Wei, “A Page from the Jie Zi Yuan,” Date unknown

Nationality: Chinese
Movement: Ming Dynasty/Zhe School

Xu Wei (1521-1593) was a 16th-century Chinese poet and painter who worked primarily in monochrome. He is still studied and celebrated today in China.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Netherlandish Proverbs,” 1559

Nationality: Flemish
Movement: Northern Renaissance

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569) infused enormous amounts of character in his paintings. Many of them are just fun to look at, as he included so many small details that could easily be overlooked. His Netherlandish Proverbs was one of my favorite paintings in school and gave me a love for the Northern Renaissance.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Guiseppe Arcimboldo, “Vertumnus (Emperor Rudolph II),” 1591

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) was one of the first artists I introduced to my son when he was a toddler. His portraits made from food, flowers, birds, books, and other miscellaneous items are interesting to study and a wonderful testament to his creativity.

Paolo Veronese

Paolo Veronese, “The Wedding Feast at Cana,” 1563

Nationality: Italian (active in Venice)
Movement: Mannerism

Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) followed in the footsteps of other famous Venetian painters and is known for his highly skilled use of color. His oeuvre includes a wide variety of subjects, including religious paintings, portraits, scenes from mythology, and trompe-l’oeil frescos. (His “Jesus and the Centurion” is included in my Lenten Art Devotions Volume III.)

Sofonisba Anguissola

Sofonisba Anguissola, “Lucia, Minerva and Europa Anguissola Playing Chess,” 1555

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) is one of the few female names that come up relatively frequently in lists of great artists from history. Like other historical female artists, she is known for very detailed and life-like portraits.

El Greco

El Greco, “The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane,” ca. 1590

Nationality: Greek (active in Spain)
Movement: Mannerism

Doménikos Theotokópoulos (aka. El Greco – 1541-1614) is grouped with the Mannerists, but his style was entirely his own. His paintings are extremely identifiable by their dramatic colors, gaunt figures, and sweeping lines. (His “The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane” is included in my Lenten Art Devotions Volume III.)

Lavinia Fontana

Lavinia Fontana, “Self-Portrait at the Clavichord with a Servant,” 1577

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Mannerism

Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) was another painter who was trained by her father. She became well-known in her region as a female artist who did not live in a convent (and, in fact, married and was the primary bread-winner for herself, her husband, and their eleven children), and she was accepted into the Accademia di San Luca, making her unique among her contemporaries. She painted many portraits, but her subjects also included stories from mythology and religious scenes.

Annibale Carracci

Annibale Carracci, “Assumption of the Virgin Mary,” 1600-1601

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Baroque

Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) paved the way from Mannerism into the Baroque style that dominated the 17th century. If you enjoy his work, you can also learn more about his brother, Agostino, and his cousin, Ludovico, who were also active at the same time. His oeuvre includes many religious themes but also scenes from everyday life.


Caravaggio, “Incredulity of Saint Thomas,” ca. 1602

Nationality: Italian
Movement: Baroque

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was the master of chiaroscuro, and his dramatic use of light and darkness was imitated for decades after his death. No 16th-century picture study would be complete without him and it’s fitting that wraps up this list!

Am I missing anyone you’d add to this list? I’d love to know!

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