Great art, in particular art from the Renaissance, is one of the chief reasons that tourists visit Florence. Some of the most famous artists in history and some of the art world's greatest masterpieces are located in Florence. If you're visiting Florence for art, these are the artists that you don't want to miss.
The great artist Michelangelo Buonarotti is well represented in Florence, with works in the Bargello and the Galleria dell'Accademia. Michelangelo's most famous masterpiece, his statue of David, is located in the Accademia, with copies of the original in front of the Palazzo Vecchio as well as in Piazzale Michelangelo, a large square that provides a panorama of the city.
One of the most famous paintings from the Renaissance – "The Birth of Venus", which depicts a beautiful girl with long, flowing hair floating away on a clamshell – was painted by Sandro Botticelli. This painting and many more are located in the Botticelli Room of the Uffizi Gallery.
Florence's most famous monk is also one of its most beloved painters. Fra Angelico, also known by Fra Angelico da Fiesole or Beato Angelico, is best known for the many religious frescoes he painted on the walls of the monastery of San Marco, where he resided as a Dominican monk alongside Girolamo Savonarola.
Art by the famous sculptor Donatello is featured in a number of famous attractions in Florence. Look for his bronze "David" in the Bargello, statues on the Campanile, and other sculptures in the churches of San Lorenzo and Orsanmichele. Donatello also assisted Lorenzo Ghiberti with the construction of the Baptistery doors (see below).
Sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti's artistry is on display on the north and east doors of the Baptistery, considered to be the oldest building in Florence. Check out the beautiful replicas of Ghiberti's bronze doors, particularly the panels on the east doors, also known as the "Gates of Paradise," then head to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, the museum that houses many original artworks associated with Florence's Duomo, to see the real thing.
The symbol of Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka il Duomo), is distinct for its soaring red brick dome visible from miles around. This amazing feat of engineering and artistic elegance is thanks to Filippo Brunelleschi. While Brunelleschi is best known for his dome, he also had a hand in the design of several other buildings in Florence, including the Basilicas of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito.
To the average traveler, the name Masaccio may not mean much. But in the world of Florentine art, Masaccio is hailed as one of the first great painters of the Renaissance. Masaccio's most famed works are the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, located in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine.