The High Renaissance describes the heyday of the Italian Renaissance in the period from about 1500 to 1530. The art masters of this period strove for the highest artistic perfection and harmony: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Titian mastered the depiction of the human body, Raphael the problem-free handling of spatial perspective, Titian and Leonardo da Vinci also created virtuoso uses of colour. Their contemporaries of the High Renaissance considered their model of classical antiquity not only mastered but surpassed by the works of their praised masters. They saw the same in the exemplary architecture of Bramante and Michelangelo and in the literature of Baldassare Castiglione, Niccolò Machiavelli or Ludovico Ariosto.
The centre of this period is papal Rome and Florence. Bramante's central building designs for the new St. Peter's Church, Leonardo da Vinci's famous paintings ("The Last Supper", "Mona Lisa"), Raphael's painting of the "Stanzen" (the Pope's apartments) and his most famous altarpiece, the "Sistine Madonna", Michelangelo's sculptures ("David", "Moses") and his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel fall into this period.
The German painter Albrecht Dürer is considered one of the most important representatives of the Renaissance north of the Alps. His copperplate engravings are particularly well-known and popular. In Germany, the High Renaissance did not develop until the middle of the 16th century, primarily in architecture. Important examples are the Augustusburg Palace Chapel (Augustusburg Hunting Lodge), consecrated in 1572, the ornamental Renaissance furnishings of the Celle Palace Chapel, originally designed in Gothic style between 1560 and 1580, and the Stadthagen Prince's Mausoleum, built between 1619 and 1625. The Renaissance façade of the Pellerhaus in Nuremberg from 1605, which was destroyed in the Second World War, was also architecturally interesting. The new Old Town Hall in Nuremberg, which was built between 1616 and 1622, was inspired by the façade design of Italian town palaces of the High Renaissance, although the pavilion-like dwarf houses also incorporated architectural elements of the German Renaissance. The Spandau Citadel in Berlin is considered one of the most important and best-preserved fortresses from the High Renaissance period in Europe.