Tapestries would be the artistic glory of the Renaissance era, requiring imagination, skill, patience, and often international collaboration.
Renaissance tapestries took just two unique types: the traditional Flemish format, with patterns and designs sprinkled across a decorative field, along with the newer Italian formatthat burst with narrative scenes coming to existence amid the silken threads. In case Dr. Fletcher’s book have been a tapestry, it might belong to the Flemish category, with myriad personalities, monuments, and occasions forming participating patterns, such as several chapters that glow like golden threads. All these patterns of politics, war, religion, engineering, and artwork mesmerize the reader as every new detail comes to existence over her twenty-six chapters, crossing the reader in the Fall of Constantinople to the Battle of Lepanto.
Fletcher has undertaken a herculean task, mustering an amazing quantity of research, which range from contemporary chronicles and diaries to the latest scholarship, to recount the densely populated political, economical, and cultural conditions of 15th and also 16th-century Europe.
The narrative is enlivened by the unexpected proliferation of dramatis personae from the Renaissance era: the kings of Spain, France, and England have crucial roles, as do the despots of innumerable duchies and marks, even together with the movers and shakers of this Italian republics (which is merely the political world ). To that remarkable variety, Fletcher includes painters, writers, scientists, preachers, explorers, and inventors strutting and fretting their minutes on the webpage. Each personality sketch is equally pithy and memorable, however, it takes more than a bit of familiarity with the time to keep things straight. A couple of diagrams for the most important dynasties, a record of papal successions, along with some avenues to orient the reader below the erratic patchwork of Italian sovereign nations, would be very helpful to the general reader.
Even the papacy, with its multifaceted politics, patronage, and family, occupies a lot of the publication. Fletcher’s apparent, goal prose shines here; her tone as she discusses the problematic papacy of Alexander VI Borgia is far more nuanced than that of most other writers. She extends that subtlety into her traces of religious figures, distancing both Savonarola and Martin Luther from their typical caricature-like portrayals and at one point lovingly contrasting them with one another. Her approach can also be distinguished by a willingness to entertain the thought that the piety of their era was sincere, at least occasionally, and that God played a very important role within this society, a notion often dismissed by scholars who a-critically proclaim the Renaissance as the complete triumph of secularism. Her observations of the past often invite comparisons with the current. As she explains the downturn of Savonarola, for instance, she notes that”while the Florentines may have endorsed the rhetoric of moral renewal… heavy-handed policing of daily lives sparked resentment.” Readers might note a parallel at the responses to restrictions during the 2020 pandemic.
Fletcher’s fast-paced tour through history occasionally pauses to present the reader to some of the lesser-known artistic wonders of the era. She dedicates pages to the exquisite job of Pinturicchio at the Borgia Apartments at the Vatican Museums and her outlook will substantially to rehabilitate this much maligned artist. Fletcher hence invites audiences to examine Italian Renaissance art differently, not as a list of tourism’s top ten, however as varietals from various terroirs, every with its own premier cru –a way much valued by this art historian.
Of the many fascinating stages, few are as enthralling as 16″Battle of Words”, that influences the development, diffusion, and influence of the printing media. The chapter brims with data that highlights the outstanding opportunities this new medium offered girls. Fletcher introduces the reader to some parade of extraordinary female authors, flanked by testimonies of the many guys who admired and encouraged them.
Women are brought frequently to the fore throughout the book. Readers come across the forceful personalities of Caterina Riario Sforza and Isabella D’Este, as well as the more meditative figures of Vittoria Colonna or even Laura Battiferri degli Ammannati. Fletcher’s evaluation of the conditions of women during this era is apparent, straight-forward, and well documented, without the usual handwringing over a perceived”oppressive” and”patriarchal” society.
As the title of this work …