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The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini

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  • Editors: Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann
  • Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Pages: 432
  • Illustrations: 275 in full color
  • Binding: Clothbound, with jacket
  • Dimensions: 9'' x 11''
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Award: Choice's list of Outstanding Academic Titles
  • ISBN: 9780300175912



Edited by Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann

In the words of cultural historian Jacob Burkhardt, fifteenth century Italy was "the place where the notion of the individual was born." In keeping with that idea, early Renaissance Italy was a key participant in the first great age of portraiture in Europe. As groundbreaking artists strove to evoke the identity or personality of their sittersfrom heads of state and church, military commanders, and wealthy patrons to scholars, poets, and artiststhey evolved daring new representational strategies that would profoundly influence the course of Western art. More than a mere likeness, the fifteenthcentury Italian portrait was an attempt to wrest from the unpredictability of life and the shadow of mortality and image that could be passed down to future generations.

The Renaissance Portrait, which accompanies a landmark exhibition at the Bode Museum, Berlin, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, provides new research and insight into the early history of portraiture in Italy, examining in detail how its major art centersFlorence, the princely courts, and Venice saw the rapid development of portraiture as closely linked to Renaissance society and politics, ideas of the individual, and concepts of beauty. Essays by leading scholars provide a thorough introduction to Renaissance portraiture, while individual catalogue entries illustrate and extensively discuss more than 160 magnificent examples of painting, drawing, manuscript illumination, sculpture, and medallic portraiture by such artists as Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Pisanello, Mantegna, Antonello da Messina, and Giovanni Bellini. With abundant style and visual ingenuity, these masters transformed the plain facts of observation into something beautiful to behold.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

"Patricia Rubin's essay on the purposes and forms of portraiture in Florence is very fine, and Peter Humfrey offers a solid overview of portraiture in Venice."

"includes essays by all the stars of Italian Renaissance art history"
"sumptuous and scholarly fascinating traversal of some of the most memorable faces in Western art, accompanied by meticulous explanations of the symbols that accompany many of the sitters, the origins of the Commissions and the reception the works received examines the different settings in Italy where the works were produced, finding distinct qualities in Florence, at princely courts and in Venice."
The Art Newspaper

"Throughout the catalog, the editors and essays chip away at the often monolithic term "Renaissance" to distinguish not only different artists but different environments in which the art flourished and served the needs of the time and place. For anyone overwhelmed by the vast, sometimes foreboding forest of Renaissance art, The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini will guide you safely through the trees The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini takes the otherworldly beauty of the Renaissance and grounds it in the humanism it originally sprung from."
Big Think

The Catholic Herald

"Patricia Rubin's essay on the purposes and forms of portraiture in Florence is very fine, and Peter Humfrey offers a solid overview of portraiture in Venice."beautifully produced catalogue"
Church Times

"seamlessly blends scholarship with a focus on an art form that haunts our era of unbridled egotism: the portrait. What the portrait communicates (rank, beauty, power, glory as opposed to what a photograph might capture) is the problematic subject that informs all the essays in the volume. The essays in The Renaissance Portrait wear their learning lightly, and with admirable brevity explain how the portrait emerged in the Italian 15th century in response to the Renaissance's glorification of the individual. This volume is a splendid complement to a glorious show."
Alfred Mac Adam, ART News

"a beautiful book, accompanying what must be a stunning exhibition The analysis of the paintings in the exhibition is masterly, encouraging reader to look more carefully for him or herself at the marvelous range of portraits from Donatello to Bellini"
History Teaching Review

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