The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece – 50 years in 50 Books

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.

As part of the 50 Years in 50 Books series for our 50th Anniversary, we’re sharing an extract from the book in which the author takes the reader through how to read the altarpiece.


Read the extract from The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece: Between Icon and Narrative


About the Author:

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


About the book:

The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece: Between Icon and Narrative
David Ekserdjian

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

Find out more


Further reading:

Yale University Press is celebrating 50 years of publishing in London. To celebrate, we have selected 50 important Yale London books from our past, present and future to tell the story of our publishing through a series of articles and extracts.

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