The Ugly Renaissance is a delightfully debauched tour of the sordid, gritty reality behind some of the most celebrated artworks and cultural innovations of all time.
Tourists today flock to Italy by the millions to admire the stunning achievements of the Renaissance—paintings, statues, and buildings that are the legacy of one of the greatest periods of cultural rebirth and artistic beauty the world has ever seen. But beneath the elegant surface lurked a seamy, vicious world of power politics, perversity, and corruption. In this meticulously researched and lively portrait, Renaissance scholar Alexander Lee illuminates the dark and titillating contradictions that existed alongside the enlightened spirit of the time: the scheming bankers, greedy politicians, bloody rivalries, murderous artists, religious conflicts, rampant disease, and indulgent excess without which many of the most beautiful monuments of the Renaissance would never have come into being.
About the Author
ALEXANDER LEE is a fellow in the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick. A prize-winning specialist in the history of the Italian Renaissance, he holds degrees from the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, and has held posts at Oxford, Luxembourg, and Bergamo. He is the author of numerous academic works on the Renaissance, including, most recently, Petrarch and St. Augustine: Classical Scholarship, Christian Theology and the Origins of the Renaissance of Italy, and is currently working on a new biography of Niccolò Machiavelli.
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
“Fascinating. . . . Explore[s] the dualities of creative brilliance and human baseness.” —The Spectator
“An entertaining frolic buttressed by serious scholarship. . . . An illuminating look at how the flowering of human imagination celebrated in the Renaissance was fertilized by the excesses of human nature.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Effortlessly combining scholarly depth with a highly accessible style. . . . Lee has given us a Renaissance that is . . . uglier, but infinitely more interesting.” —New Humanist