Cover image for Renaissance
Graham-Dixon, Andrew.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
336 pages ; illustrations (some color) : 26 cm
General Note:
Published to accompany the BBC televison series Renaissance.
Added Uniform Title:
Renaissance (Television program : British Broadcasting Corporation)
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CB361 .G695 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
CB361 .G695 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Renaissance was one of the great periods of creative and intellectual achievement. This "age of genius," from its origins in the thirteenth century to its zenith in sixteenth-century Rome, produced some of the most fascinating and dynamic artists of all time--Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Leonardo da Vinci. In his adventurous new book, lavishly illustrated with 125 color illustrations, acclaimed art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon takes a fresh look at this most exciting period in art history, challenging many of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the Renaissance.

The Italian scholars who first dreamed of a Renaissance wished to revive the spirit of classical antiquity after the darkness--as they saw it--of the medieval and Byzantine periods. Graham-Dixon argues, however, that the Renaissance represented a culmination rather than a complete rejection of those earlier influences. Starting in the Middle Ages with the impact of the Franciscan movement on painting in Italy, Graham-Dixon's reappraisal of the Renaissance takes us through the key moments of its development, focusing on the major artists and architects of the time: the Early Renaissance in Florence--Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, and Brunelleschi; the Northern Renaissance--D#65533;rer, Cranach, and Brueghel; Venice--Titian, Palladio, and Tintoretto; and the High Renaissance in Rome--Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael.

Renaissance also outlines the historical context of this time of great social as well as artistic change. It reveals the social climate in which these artists worked: the power struggles between the Renaissance rulers of the Italian city-states, the French invasions of Italy, the invention of printing, and the Protestant Reformation. Along with his vivid, highly original, and often extremely entertaining descriptions of the works themselves, Graham-Dixon not only reassesses but also brings to life one of the most glorious periods in history.

Author Notes

Andrew Graham-Dixon is writer and presenter of the BBC television series Renaissance. He was chief art critic at the Independent between 1986 and 1998. His other books include the best-selling History of British Art , and Paper Museum (1996), a collection of his writings from the Independent . He lives in London.

Reviews 3

Library Journal Review

Companion to a BBC television series, this effort is a gracefully written and up-to-date, if not particularly innovative, lay reader's introduction to Renaissance art and the cultural milieu that spawned it. While spanning the breadth of avant-garde European art between c.1300 and c.1600, Graham-Dixon, formerly chief art critic for the London Independent, necessarily and appropriately focuses on the seminal Italian achievement. Thus, the bulk of the text is given over to canonic figures ranging from Giotto to Michelangelo. The concise intelligence of Graham-Dixon's characterizations of both artists and art are neatly matched by the vivid articulation of the classical and medieval influences that helped give shape to the epoch. In addition, the author discusses religion, humanistic thought, the changing social status of the artist, and the larger historic ebb and flow without which coherent discourse about the era's art is not possible. Despite a certain contentious attraction toward intellectual straw men and insufficient illustration, this vivacious advanced primer will, it is hoped, attain the wide readership it manifestly merits.DRobert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Because the author is an art historian, his central focus is on art and architecture, but he also considers the politics, morality, and philosophy that engendered their development. Smaller than most textbooks and laced with beautiful full-color and black-and-white reproductions, the book will appear much less daunting to students than most other art-history tomes. The author's sense of humor and enthusiasm for his subject are palpable throughout. The organization is loosely chronological, but each chapter explores a different argument, such as whether the Renaissance can be clearly distinguished from the Middle Ages or its relationship to the Reformation. While the narrative is lively and provocative, it presupposes a general knowledge of and interest in the period. Graham-Dixon has drawn extensively from primary sources from the world of politics, religion, literature, and art. While this makes for fascinating reading, it may create frustration for students who are seeking information about a particular artist or work. Section headings within chapters and the index alleviate the problem somewhat. In any case, the extra effort is well rewarded since the author includes intriguing stories of the artists' lives and works along with his own ideas about an artist's or city's contribution to the period. A treasure for budding Renaissance scholars.-Cathy Horowitz, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Graham-Dixon, a highly successful art critic and journalist from London, was commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation to create a book that would include six chapters coordinated with the six British television programs he hosted that focus on Renaissance art. Therefore, the book is divided into six almost self-sufficient thematic units that include the origins of the Renaissance, art in 15th-century Florence, the idea of genius in art society, the effects of the Reformation on art, the city of Venice, and finally an exploration on how the Renaissance ended. Graham-Dixon's focus is on Italian art, but he presents a few Northern Europe Reformatory works. He updates some of the more traditional ideas concerning the exclusive origins of the Renaissance in classical antiquity--but otherwise he maintains the traditional art historical methodology throughout. The book is not broad enough to be considered a classroom textbook; it is not focused enough, with enough citations, to be used as an auxiliary text; nor is it illustrated well enough to be a souvenir display book. Perhaps it is best used by the public as an accompaniment to this interesting BBC television travel series. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. A. L. Palmer; University of Oklahoma