The Italian Renaissance Nude


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Jill Burke


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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.

“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

"Given the centrality of the male and female nude in the teaching and scholarship of Renaissance art, it is about time this book appeared. Burke (Univ. of Edinburgh, UK) makes a major contribution to the literature by presenting the nuanced reactions, in both textual and visual form, of viewers of the nude between about 1400 and 1530 in the Italian peninsula."—A. Golahny, Choice

Selected for Choice's 2019 Outstanding Academic Titles List
ISBN: 9780300201567
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
240 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
120 color illus.
Splendor, Myth, and Vision

Nudes from the Prado

Edited by Thomas J. Loughman, Kathleen M.

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