Alexander Lee - The Ugly Renaissance

The Ugly Renaissance

Renowned as an age of artistic rebirth, the Renaissance is cloaked with an aura of beauty and brilliance.

But behind the Mona Lisa’s smile lurked a seamy, vicious world of power politics, perversity and corruption that has more in common with the present day than anyone dares to admit. Enter a world of corrupt bankers, greedy politicians, sex-crazed priests, rampant disease, and lives of extravagance and excess.

Enter the world of the ugly Renaissance.

Uncovering the hidden realities beneath the surface of the period’s best-known artworks, historian Alexander Lee takes the reader on a breathtaking and unexpected journey through the Italian past and shows that, far from being the product of high-minded ideals, the sublime monuments of the Renaissance were created by flawed and tormented artists who lived in an ever-expanding world of bigotry and hatred.

The only question is: will you ever see the Renaissance in quite the same way again?

THE UGLY RENAISSANCE was published in the UK by Hutchinson on 26th September 2013 and in the US by Doubleday on 7th October 2014.

‘In this lively decipherment, Alexander Lee explains what’s really going on [in Renaissance art].’
– Independent

‘Alexander Lee’s fascinating new book…explore[s] the dualities of creative brilliance and human baseness with a mastery of sources and a popular touch that vividly brings the whole period to life.’
– Spectator

‘[E]ffortlessly combining scholarly depth with a highly accessible style and presenting many of the best-known (as well as some of the least known) figures and artworks from the Renaissance in an unexpected and multifaceted light…Lee has given us a Renaissance that is…uglier, but infinitely more interesting.’
– New Humanist

Other publications by Alexander Lee