The High Renaissance is traditionally taken to refer to a period of exceptional artistic production in the Italian states, principally Rome, capital of the Papal States, under Pope Julius II. Assertions about where and when the period begins and ends vary, but in general the best-known exponents of painting of the High Renaissance, include Leonardo da Vinci, early Michelangelo and Raphael. Extending the general rubric of Renaissance culture, the visual arts of the High Renaissance were marked by a renewed emphasis upon the classical tradition, the expansion of networks of patronage, and a gradual attenuation of figural forms into the style later termed Mannerism.
The paintings in the Vatican by Michelangelo and Raphael represent the culmination of High Renaissance style in painting. The scale of these works, coupled with the complexity of their composition, closely observed human figures, and pointed iconographic and decorative references to classical antiquity, can be viewed as emblematic of the High Renaissance.