This imaginative reframing of the Renaissance presents its history asthat of connections across Europe, where artists from the north andsouth were products of the brilliantly fertile mix of classical inspiration, observation, and self-consciousness that set European culture alight from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. From Leonardo da Vinci to Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel to Titian, this stirring narrative sets the lives of artists against a period of great change across the continent.
Across thirteen chapters, art critic and writer Jonathan Jones relates the story of Renaissance artists as pioneers, adventurers, and by their own rights “geniuses.” He reveals how they were inspired by their travels and encounters across Europe and beyond, such as the Aztec treasures upon which Albrecht Dürer gazed with wonder in Brussels in 1520, or Antonello da Messina’s arduous journey to Bruges to discover the true nature of oil paint.
In this history of shared ideals, the arrival of a hitherto unknown Netherlandish painter, Bruegel, in 1550s Rome carries the same importance as the work Michelangelo was engrossed in at that very same moment to raise the new Saint Peter’s Basilica toward heaven. From Italian palazzi and piazzas to German woods, the royal castle of Prague to the Habsburg Empire, this engaging and evocative read will captivate general readers and scholars alike.
Jonathan Jones is an art critic for The Guardian. He is the author of several books, including The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance, The Loves of the Artists: Art and Passion in the Renaissance, Sensations: The Story of British Art from Hogarth to Banksy, and Artemisia Gentileschi. Jones was also a member of the jury for the 2009 Turner Prize and has appeared in the BBC series The Private Life of a Masterpiece.