The Italian Renaissance Nude Jill Burke

Publication date:
26 Jun 2018
Yale University Press
240 pages: 254 x 190mm
120 color illus.
Sales territories:

The first scholarly monograph to focus on the inception of the Italian Renaissance nude, this lively study subverts the idea that the nude in this period was a triumph of classical revival. Looking again at familiar (even overly familiar) images by artists such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Titian, this book investigates the nude as a tool of colonialism and conquest, as a means of asserting the superiority of men to women, and of naturalizing power differentials by entrenching them in a fixed set of ideas about the body and its representation.  Jill Burke uses new research on Renaissance sexual practices, material culture, and the history of medicine to contextualize the era’s fascination with nakedness and the body in both art and life.  The Italian Renaissance Nude invites readers to consider these celebrated nudes from beyond an aesthetic perspective—to consider why they were painted, whose gaze the images were created for, and how these artworks were used.

Jill Burke is a prize-winning researcher in Italian Renaissance art history, senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and associate editor of Renaissance Studies.

“Jill Burke contributes a useful overview of the rise of life drawing to the Getty catalogue and her book, The Italian Renaissance Nude, is full of fascinating tidbits.” —James Hall, The Art Newspaper

“This well-researched, highly readable book will be of interest to specialists and non-specialists alike, and it will become an invaluable resource for teaching” —Allison Levy, Art History Journal

“This is a hugely important book. It opens up the discourse, providing food for thought and a wealth of material that scholars will greedily mine. Importantly, too, it offers fresh, stimulating interpretations of major works [. . .]  The book will undoubtedly become a keystone for future studies on the subject” – Paula Nuttall, Burlington Magazine

“[S]urpassing classical interpretations Jill Burke’s ambitious volume...sheds new light on the cultural frames through which nakedness was perceived … Burke’s book amounts to an elaborate and essential study of the Italian Renaissance nude...Her contribution is a thorough examination that is not only an excellent and welcome basis for further research, but also a work that promises to stand the test of scholarly time”—Julie Beckers, Renaissance Quarterly LXXII.4

Selected for Choice's 2019 Outstanding Academic Titles List

“If you thought you knew what you were looking at when looking at Renaissance nudes, look again with Jill Burke.”—Alexander Nagel, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University

“The question of ‘Why the Renaissance nude?’ is so central to the very idea of Renaissance art – and at the same time so fascinating – that it is incomprehensible that it evaded treatment in book form until now. In The Italian Renaissance Nude, Jill Burke sets aside art history’s unexamined assumptions and casts a fresh eye on artworks we thought we knew, all the while carefully reading ancient, medieval and Renaissance texts to glean important historical insights.”—Rebecca Zorach, Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art History, Northwestern University