The Renaissance Portrait From Donatello to Bellini Keith Christiansen, Stefan Weppelmann

Publication date:
29 Nov 2011
Metropolitan Museum of Art
432 pages: 279 x 229mm
255 color + 6 b-w illus.

In the words of the historian Jacob Burkhardt, 15th-century Italy was 'the place where the notion of the individual was born'. In keeping with this notion, early Renaissance Italy also hosted the first great age of portraiture in Europe. Artists working in Florence, Venice, and the courts of Italy created magnificent portrayals of the people around them - heads of state and church, patrons, scholars, poets, artists - concentrating for the first time on producing recognizable likenesses and expressions of personality.

Written by a team of international scholars, The Renaissance Portrait provides new research and insight into the early history of portraiture. Unlike most surveys of Renaissance art, it introduces and studies in detail the three major Italian art centres of the 15th century, exploring how the rapid development of portraiture was closely linked to Renaissance society and politics, ideals of the individual, and concepts of beauty. Close to 190 works, in media ranging from painting and manuscript illumination to marble sculpture and bronze medals, created by artists that include Donatello, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Pisanello, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini and Antonello da Messina, are illustrated and extensively discussed. Accompanying a major exhibition in Berlin and New York and featuring artworks from international museums and collectors, "The Portrait in Renaissance Italy" is a visual and literary delight to scholars and to any lover of Renaissance art.

More about this title

The accompanying exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum runs from December 21, 2011 – March 18, 2012

Keith Christiansen is John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stefan Weppelmann is curator of early Italian and Spanish painting at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

"The Renaissance Portrait is a beautiful book, accompanying what must be a stunning exhibition… analysis of the paintings in the exhibition is masterly." Peter Lovegrove, History Teaching Review (Scottish Association of Teachers of History)

Page spreads


Related links

Visit the Metropolitan Museum's official exhibition page