College of Arts and Sciences

Renaissance Studies

Renaissance Art at the Eskenazi Museum of Art

The Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes a selection of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and decorative arts produced during the European Renaissance (14th through 16th centuries). The Renaissance was a formative period in western art history. Innovations included the invention of oil paint; the development of illusionistic imagery defined by the use of one-point perspective; a fascination with the human body; and a new emphasis on expressing individuality, whether through portraiture or the cultivation of a unique style. Renaissance artists explored new approaches to Christian sacred images, sometimes in response to the sixteenth-century Reformation movement. Inspired by early archaeological excavations in Italy, they also helped to revive interest in classical aesthetics, literature, and mythology. While Florence is the city most closely associated with Renaissance art, other important artistic centers were found throughout the Italian peninsula and north of the Alps.

Highlights from the museum’s collection, which are usually on view in the first floor gallery of western art, include a small altarpiece from Siena and the inner wings of an altarpiece produced in Cologne, the inner lid of a cassone (wedding chest), Italian, Flemish, and German paintings spanning the early Renaissance to Baroque eras, a Sienese fresco, a bronze bust of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, a selection of maiolica pottery from Italy, and a case focusing on emergence of private collecting in the Renaissance. Selected works on paper from the collection are on view in the gallery on a rotating basis; many more can be viewed by appointment in the museum’s viewing room.

Please note that the museum will close for renovations at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. During this time, please consult the museum’s website for updates on the renovation and for more information about the collection. Please contact the curatorial department with specific questions:

  • Jenny McComas, Curator of European and American Art, jmccomas at
  • Nan Brewer, Curator of Works on Paper, nabrewer at