Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Artist Names: Italian Renaissance

Hello, readers!

For my next series, I'll be focusing on the names of famous artists and their relevance as first names today! Obviously, these lists aren't complete - there are too many artists to name! So let me know in the comments who I missed, and what you think about their name.

To Florence!

The Renaissance era in Italy produced some of the most well-known artists and works in the Western world today. Despite the fact that this took place about 500 years ago, creative namers today might want to take inspiration from names then. 

Disclaimer - only male names today. But be on the lookout for female artists in the future!

Leonardo da Vinci
If you've ever heard of the Mona Lisa, you've heard of da Vinci. He was more than an artist - he invented dozens of gadgets, performed experiments, and met with many famous figures of the era - a true Renaissance man. Today, Leo is at #97, Leonardo is at #114, Leon is at #321, and Leonard is at #662 - hardly unique. But if you want to inspire your child to greatness, this name stands the test of time. And if you're really looking for something unusual, why not try the last name? There were 8 little Davinci's born last year, about 74 in the last decade. 

Raphael Sanzio
The wunderkind of the Italian Renaissance, Raphael (known by his first name) was the artist of School of Athens (the painting above) and dozens of paintings at the Vatican. He's known as one of the great masters - check out his artwork online if you get a chance! Today, the name Raphael, meaning "God has healed", is at #596, and Rafael is at #293. Both are lovely, artistic options for any little painting prodigy. 

Michelangelo Buonarroti
While I initially found this name a bit too long, it turns out 74 (there's that number again) little Michelangelo's were born last year. So while it's not in the top 1000, it's not exactly unheard-of. As for the namesake - known for his volatile temper and incredible works of art, including the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist during his lifetime. The name is a reference to the archangel Michael, a warrior angel. 

Giotto di Bondone
One of the first artists of the Renaissance, Giotto is credited with being one of the first artists to draw "from life", complete with perspective and lighting. His name means "pledge of peace", and Giotto is the Italian variation of former-star Jeffrey. If you're looking for a name to honor a familial Jeff, but not something found on a playground already, try Giotto. It also fits in well with rising Giovanni or Giacomo, but hasn't appeared in any US name data at all. 

Sandro Botticelli
My favorite painting of the Renaissance is Botticelli's Primavera, and readers might also know The Birth of Venus. He's incredibly graceful and soft with his paintings - who wouldn't want to look like his Venus? Sandro is short for Alessandro, currently at #623, and I think the long name is better on a birth certificate. But the short form is an absolutely adorable nickname. 

Titian (Tiziano Vecelli)
There's a shade of red hair dye named after him, which might be due to his extensive portraits of red-headed women. Titian's paintings are sumptuous and detailed, proving his interest in color. On the name side, though, no data has been collected for any little Titian's. The name isn't too far off from Tyson or Tina, so it might make a nice option. The Italian version Tiziano was used for 26 babies last year, and it means "title of honor". 


  1. Where did you get that origin for Tiziano? As far as I'm aware, it's simply the standard Italian form of Titian, which derives from Latin Titianus 'fo the gens Titus'. (Like Octavian from Octavius, Fabian from Fabius, Julian from Julius, etc.) I've not seen your proposed etymology for it before.

  2. I got it from Nameberry and Behind the Name, which, granted, isn't confirmed: http://www.behindthename.com/name/titus.

    1. Yeah, BtN is not the most reliable when it comes to etymologies or linguistic roots!