Where to see Renaissance art in the UK
From London to Liverpool, we've highlighted some of the best museums and galleries across the UK to discover Renaissance masterpieces with a National Art Pass.
What was the Renaissance?
The Renaissance was one of the most significant periods of cultural and social development in Western art history, beginning in Italy in the 14th century before spreading throughout Europe during the following two centuries. In French, it literally means ‘rebirth’, pointing to the artists’ and intellectuals’ fascination with antiquity and a return to humanism, a philosophy that traces back to the ancient Greeks.
Some of the most famous Renaissance artists include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli, whose works embody this momentous period in history and continue to inspire artists today. They improved techniques such as the representation of light (‘chiaroscuro’) and linear perspective, to add depth and three-dimensionality, creating artworks that appeared more realistic. They closely studied anatomy and the movement of the body to accurately depict the human form.
The development of oil paint was another significant technical innovation that enhanced Renaissance paintings, creating vivid images with rich colours that could be blended to depict the intensity of light and shade.
We've highlighted some of the best museums and galleries across the UK where you can discover Renaissance masterpieces with a National Art Pass, getting you brilliant discounts at every venue.
Where can I see Renaissance art with a National Art Pass?
London's National Gallery is jam-packed with incredible pieces of Renaissance art from Italy and Northern Europe, including significant artworks by Leonardo, Raphael, Botticelli, van Eyck, and Titian. If you're pushed for time, they've created a handy self-guided tour, showcasing five masterpieces of early and High Renaissance art in the collection. And make sure to check out their Pesellino: A Renaissance Master Revealed exhibition, opening later this year.
Following a major redevelopment project called Renaissance Rediscovered, which was supported by Art Fund, you can now explore Walker Art Gallery's Renaissance collection with fresh eyes in redesigned spaces, with thoughtful interpretation to spotlight stories that have been historically excluded. Marvel at much-loved visitor favourites, such as Holbein's bombastic portrait of Henry VIII, alongside significant new acquisitions to discover previously untold histories.
Witness Hugo van der Goes's Trinty Altarpiece at The National (FKA the Scottish National Gallery), one of the most important religious works commissioned for a Scottish chapel and one of the earliest paintings in Scotland to survive the Reformation. The collection also boasts incredible examples of Renaissance art, from Titian to Tintoretto.
Experience the wonders of Italian Renaissance art in National Museum Cardiff's Gallery 2, dedicated to Art in Italy from 1500-1700, a period which saw artists combine Christian traditions with the civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome. Artists on display include Poussin, Botticelli and Conegliano.
The Courtauld's Renaissance collection features outstanding and rare works from both northern and southern Europe, including Botticelli's The Trinity with Saints Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist and Pieter Brueghel the Elder's Landscape with the Flight into Egypt.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.