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Nine great galleries in Europe for Renaissance art

posted on 27/09/17

An artistic movement and way of thinking developed in Italy in the late 13th- century, the Renaissance subsequently spread throughout Western Europe, creating an unprecedented wealth of stunning works.

While some of them now reside in New World galleries such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum, a large proportion still remain in the great cities of Europe, where in a trend beginning in the late 18th-century, private collections were opened up to the public. Here, in alphabetical order, are nine of the best places in Europe to view Renaissance art.


Accademia Galleries, Venice

The Virgin and Child between St. John the Baptist, and a saint (Sacred Conversation Giovannelli)
by Giovanni Bellini. (Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice) 

In a city hardly short on visual majesty, the Gallerie dell'Accademia is Venice’s top location to view works of the Italian Renaissance. Apart from Da Vinci’s endlessly imitated drawing The Vitruvian Man, the gallery contains masterpieces by Venetian painters Titian, Tintoretto, Bellini and Veronese. It was also notably one of the first institutions to study art restoration, starting in 1777.


Groeningemuseum, Bruges

Death and the Miser by
 Jan Provoost, first half of 16th century. (Groeningemuseum, Bruges)

The Groeningemuseum has a superb art collection; with a particular focus on Flemish primitive and Renaissance painting. Its works range from Jan van Eyck’s Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele, to Gerard David’s gory Judgement of Cambyses.


Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

The Hermitage Museum was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an extensive collection of paintings from Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum is famously expansive and daunting to tackle, and you could spend several hours concentrating on its Renaissance collection alone, which includes sculpture, majolica, tapestry and paintings such as Conestabile Madonna and Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph by Raphael.


Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


The Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. © Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0

Bringing together some of the vast art collections of the Habsburg dynasty, the lavish interior of the Kunsthistoriches Museum contains highlights such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s spectacular depiction of The Tower of Babel, Arcimboldo’s unique Summer (portrait of a man comprised of fruit) and Laura, one of only about six paintings conclusively attributed to Giorgione.


Louvre, Paris

Pyramide du Louvre. Arch. I.M. Pei, Palais du Louvre, cour Napoléon © 2012 Musée du Louvre / Olivier Ouadah

In spite of recent tumultuous events in the French capital, it is a testament to the enduring importance of this central Parisian landmark that it was still the most visited art museum in the world in 2016, attracting over 7.3 million visitors. The Louvre’s most prominent Renaissance paintings need no introduction and its Italian collection is particularly strong, including The Madonna of the Rocks and Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, alongside numerous works by Bellini, Titian and Raphael.


National Gallery, London

© National Gallery, London

Distinct from many comparable museums in Europe, The National Gallery came into being not from nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection, but from the governmental purchase of 38 paintings in 1824 from the heirs of arts patron and broker John Julius Angerstein. Its Renaissance collection is encyclopaedic in scope, ranging from very early Proto-Renaissance panel paintings by Giotto, through to El Greco’s masterpiece Christ driving the Traders from the Temple.


Old Masters Museum, Brussels

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, after Pieter Bruegel the Elder. (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels)

Forming part of the Belgian capital’s ‘Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium’ complex, the Old Masters Museum was founded by Napoleon I in 1801 and has a distinguished collection of works by Flemish and Dutch Renaissance painters. In particular, Pieter Bruegel the Elder is superbly represented with major works like The Fall of the Rebel Angels and The Census at Bethlehem.


Prado Museum, Madrid

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505, oil on panel, 220 x 390 cm (Prado, Madrid)

The Prado Museum may be best known for its unparalleled collections of Goya and Velázquez, but just as impressive is its Renaissance collection. It has an array of works by Dürer, Rogier van der Weyden and Titian, including his iconic Equestrian Portrait of Charles V, while there is no better place in the world to view the chaotic triptych paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, such as The Garden of Earthly Delights.


Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

One of the very first art galleries; what you see today at the Uffizi was initially built from the private art collections of the Medici ruling family, donated to the Tuscan state by their last surviving heiress Anna Maria Luisa as part of the Family Pact in 1737. The outstanding collection contains masterpieces by all of the great Italian Renaissance painters: Botticelli, Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Masaccio, Correggio and more.

You can visit several of these world-famous art galleries on our trips; The Accademia Galleries on Art Treasures of Venice, the Groeningemuseum and Old Masters Museum on Flemish and Dutch Painting, the Prado Museum on The Genius of Spanish Painting and the Uffizi Gallery on Power and Patronage in Florence.

By Miles Rowland, Digital Marketing Assistant.


View itinerary for Art Treasures of Venice
View Itinerary for Flemish and Dutch Painting
View itinerary for The Genius of Spanish Painting
View itinerary for Power and Patronage in Florence
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Main image: © Interior: National Gallery, London.