Renaissance style, referring to antiquity, appreciates above all moderation and harmony and the human measure of things (humanism). In Cracow, as the seat of the royal court, he found the best conditions for development. Patterns were taken from Italy, though not always directly, for example, Italian artists previously employed in Hungary were imported. The interesting thing is this, that the Renaissance flourished primarily within the reach of royal patronage, coexisting for a long time with the late gothic. For the royal court, wealthy and open to Western European influences, inter alia through family affinities, he tried to keep up with the newly emerging artistic and intellectual currents, while the bourgeoisie, very conservative, followed old patterns. Thanks to the preferences of the royal family and courtiers, Renaissance artistic tendencies, compared to other Central European countries, appeared in Krakow relatively early (early. XVI w.), although still a good few decades after the first fully Renaissance works in Italy, created in the years 30. XV w. The first major construction project, introducing the Renaissance style to Polish architecture, there was a reconstruction of the courtyard of the Wawel castle. Italian masters – Francis of Florence, and then Bartłomiej Berrecci – in years 1502-1536 they decorated the royal residence with magnificent arcaded cloisters. Wawel interiors also underwent renaissance transformations. The most representative rooms, like Senatorska or Deputy, got wonderful coffered ceilings. A large part of the decorative stonework was also replaced, which is what Master Benedict did in particular. It is worth paying attention to the portals and window frames, combining Renaissance ornamentation with remnants of the Gothic style. A collection of tapestries, specially ordered in Brussels workshops by Sigismund Augustus, also added splendor to the chambers.. The main work of the Renaissance, apparently unmatched north of the Alps, became the Sigismund Chapel (1519-1531) the project of the already mentioned Berrecci. Its architecture with perfect proportions, with harmoniously matched details in a unique way combined with sculptural decoration rich in content of an ornamental and figural character.
Berrecci was also the creator of the decorations. The development of Renaissance tombstone sculptures in Poland originated from him. It was the statue of Sigismund the Old, lying in a characteristic pose, from the chapel constituting the mortuary mausoleum, that inspired other eminent artists, such as Jan Maria Padovano, Jan Michałowicz from Urzędów or Santi Gucci, whose numerous works can be found in the temples of Krakow. With time, which can be seen especially in the works of Gucci, the original patterns have changed (e.g.. Batory's tombstone in the Wawel Cathedral), and harmony gave way to often exaggerated decorativeness.
Renaissance painting in Krakow found its fullest expression in the works of Stanisław Samostrzelnik (from 1519 r. court painter Krzysztof Szydłowiecki) known mainly from book miniatures, but also not avoiding larger forms – see Piotr Tomicki's portrait. The most valuable work of Krakow's art of decorating books, however, is the Codex of Baltazar Behem, with a style still inherent in Gothic forms.. Friezes in the Wawel chambers also deserve attention, painted incl. by Antoni from Wrocław.