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