The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece Between Icon and Narrative David Ekserdjian

Publication date:
08 Jun 2021
Yale University Press
496 pages: 279 x 241mm
250 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The comprehensive study of the Italian Renaissance altarpiece from the 13th to the early 17th century

The altarpiece is one of the most distinctive and remarkable art forms of the Renaissance period. It is difficult to imagine an artist of the time—whether painter or sculptor, major or minor—who did not produce at least one. Though many have been displaced or dismembered, a substantial proportion of these works still survive. Despite the volume of material available, no serious attempt has ever been made to examine the whole subject in depth until now. The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece is the first comprehensive study of the genre to examine its content and subject matter in real detail, from the origins of the altarpiece in the 13th century to the time of Caravaggio in the early 1600s. It discusses major developments in the history of these objects throughout Italy, covers the three key categories of Renaissance altarpiece—“immagini” (icons), “historie” (narratives), and “misteri” (mysteries)—and is illustrated with 250 beautiful reproductions of the artworks.

David Ekserdjian is professor of history of art and film at the University of Leicester

“Ekserdijan has an impressive encyclopaedic knowledge of the byways of altarpiece development during the period....He writes engagingly and wears his learning lightly, and, with its 250 illustrations, this handsome book is designed in the best Yale tradition.”—Peter Humfrey, Art Newspaper

“The glorious art of the kind that Napoleon would have stolen if he could is on full display in David Ekserdijan’s The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece.”—Michael Glover, The Tablet

“The very superior product of a lifetime of thinking and writing about the subject...Peppered with new and surprising insights, this meticulous study will become an indispensable work.”—James Hall, Literary Review