Although I’m not an art historian or an art aficionado, my interest in art has increased when I visited Italy. You can’t help but be fascinated by art while in Italy. The country has so many paintings and sculptures that you learned in high school art classes.
Not only do I enjoy visiting galleries and museums to view works of art, but I also love finding the graves of those who made them.
Many of Italy’s most famous artists aren’t buried here. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, is in France. However, the fates of other artists (Caravaggio or Giotto included) remain unknown. This 13 list of famous Italian artists is what you will find.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for artists I should include!
Buried in: Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence
Michelangelo was one the most talented and troubled artists Italy has ever produced. He lived a long and healthy life, dying in Rome in 1564 just weeks before his 89th Birthday.
Although Michelangelo was primarily a sculptor and painter, he was also an architect and painter. Some of his most famous works include the David sculpture and the ceiling and altar wall frescos in the Sistine Chapel. He also designed the Laurentian Library in Florence.
Michelangelo asked that he be buried back at Florence. He was buried in an elaborately decorated tomb by Giorgio Vasari.
In: The Pantheon in Rome
Raphael, a highly skilled painter and architect, died at the age of 37. Perhaps from a venereal illness. He died in 1520.
Raphael’s most renowned works can be found in the Vatican Museums’ so-called Raphael’s Rooms. Raphael did not paint all the frescoes, but all were created by him and were painted by his men.
He is the only artist’s tomb inside the Pantheon. Raphael requested to be buried at “the most beautiful church of Rome,” which he believed was the Pantheon.
Buried in: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of the most important Italian sculptors and architects, was later credited with inventing the Baroque style. He was well-liked throughout his life and received many commissions from Vatican. He died in 1680 at the age of 81.
Bernini’s sculptures are all over Rome.
He was buried with his parents in an unadorned vault. A plaque with Bernini’s initials was not placed on the tomb until 1898.
Buried in: Chiesa di Ognissanti in Florence
Sandro Botticelli, a 15th century painter, was one of the artists who benefited greatly from the patronage by the Medici families, but he would also become involved in dangerous religious fervors later in his life. He died in 1510 at the age 64.
Many of his most prominent pieces can be found in Florence’s Uffizi gallery, including the huge “Primavera”, and “Birth of Venus.” In the late 1400s, Botticelli became a follower of the zealous monk Savonarla. It was believed that Botticelli once burned some of his paintings in Savonarola’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Botticelli is believed to have loved a Florentine noblewoman, from far away, his entire life. Her face is the one that you see repeatedly in his works. He asked to be buried at his feet when he died. He got his wish granted and the tombs of the two Florentine noblemen are located in the Ognissanti Church.
Buried in: Cimitero Maggiore in Vicenza
Andrea Palladio, one of Italy’s most prominent architects, was a major influence on buildings today. Palladio was not born with this name, but a nickname given to him by a mentor. The name Palladio refers to the Greek goddess wisdom. He was 71 years old when he died in 1580.
Palladio’s signature style was known as the “Palladian Style” and can be seen in many churches and palaces around Venice and Vicenza. There are a number of “Palladian Villas,” located around Vicenza, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Villa Capra, also known as “La Rotonda”, and Villa Barbaro are the most well-known of these. He also designed Venice’s Il Redentore and San Giorgio Maggiore churches.
Although Palladio was initially buried in Vicenza’s Santa Corona church in Vicenza, his remains were later moved into the Cimitero Maggiore in Vicenza.
Buried in: Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice
Titian, the Venetian painter, was well-known during his lifetime. This was mostly in 16th century. He was 88 when he died in 1576.
Titian is best known for his portraits as well as religious scenes, landscapes and religious scenes. The “Assumption of the Virgin” is one of his most well-known pieces. It is still at the exact spot where it was commissioned, behind the high altar of the same church in Venice, in which Titian would be buried later.
Crypt beneath the Florence Duomo
Filippo Brunelleschi, a Florentine architect was responsible for the stunning dome that adorns the Florence Duomo. He died at the age of 68 in 1446.
Florence’s cathedral was built without a dome and has remained this way for over a century. Brunelleschi’s design was selected to win a competition for the construction of the dome. Brunelleschi’s friend finished the dome using his original designs in 1461.
Brunelleschi was buried in the Duomo’s Crypt – an area normally reserved for bishops.
Buried in: Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence
Donatello, a Florentine sculptor, lived between the 14th and 15th centuries. He died in 1466 at age 80.
His bronze statue of David (now in the Bargello) is his most well-known work. It was commissioned by the Medici to be placed at the Palazzo Vecchio. This statue is one that a young Michelangelo might have seen when he was first under Medici patronage. Another striking Donatello piece is “Magdalene Penitent”, a wood carving in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence.
Donatello was buried alongside his Medici patron upon his death.
Fra Filippo Lippi
Spoleto Cathedral – Buried
Filippo Lippi, a 15th century painter from Florence, joined a monastery when he was 16. He went on to study at the church and became an artist. However, he was still known as a friar – that’s his “Fra”. He was 62 years old when he died in 1469.
Lippi’s art consists largely of religious scenes. There are many notable renditions of the Madonna or Child. He was buried in Spoleto Cathedral after he died while working on frescoes. Lorenzo de’Medici ordered the monument to honor the artist’s grave.
Buried in: Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence
Lorenzo Ghiberti, a Florentine sculptor, lived between the 14th and 15th centuries. He was 76 years old when he died in 1455.
The bronze panels he created for the doors to the Florence baptistery are his most well-known works. His most famous works are the bronze panels he created for the doors of the Florence baptistery.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome.
Guido di Pietro was a Dominican friar, and later became known as Fra Angelico. He began to paint, creating many works in churches and monasteries. He was 59 when he died in 1455. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1982.
Fra Angelico’s most well-known work is the fresco “The Annunciation,” found on the San Marco Convent wall in Florence. There were many other frescoes he created in the convent as well as some inside the cells where the monks lived.
Despite his long-standing connection to Florence, Fra Angelico was still living in Rome at his death. He was buried in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, near the Pantheon.
Buried in: Chiesa di San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome
Francesco Borromini (17th century architect) was a contemporan of Bernini but he wasn’t as charming nor well-liked.
His most well-known work is the Sant’Agnese In Agone church, located on Rome’s Piazza Navona. According to popular mythology, Bernini designed the Fountain of the Four Rivers. It is located right in front of Borromini’s church. One figure appears to be turning his head away from the church facade and expressing disgust. However, the story is unlikely to be true as the fountain was built before the church.
Borromini, who died at the age 67, requested to be buried in a friend’s tomb and didn’t want his name on it. A plaque was added recently to the area where Borromini was interred.
Buried in: Madonna dell’Orto in Venice
Tintoretto, a Venetian painter of the 16th century, was born in Venice. Jacopo Comin was his real name. His father, a dyer (tintere in Italian), gave him the nickname “Tintoretto,” which means “little dyer” in his early years of life.
The monumental “Paradise”, Tintoretto’s most well-known piece is perhaps the one inside the Doge’s Palace, Venice. It is the largest canvas painting, measuring over 74×29 feet. He also created pieces for Venice’s Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and the Madonna dell’Orto Church in which he would be buried.