Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

216 × 138 × 21 mm
208 pages
99 illustrations, 39 in colour
01 Jun 2010
  • £25.00

  • This edition is currently unavailable

The Sensory World of Italian Renaissance Art François Quiviger

The Renaissance often refers to an era when art, philosophy and other profound expressions of human culture underwent a revolutionary rebirth. New ideas, however, grew in the cradle of old modes of thinking: the Renaissance inherited and developed a medieval conception of the mind based on the assumption that there was nothing in the mind that had not reached it via the senses. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the world of art.

In The Sensory World of Renaissance Art François Quiviger explores the ways in which sensations began to take on a new significance in the art of the sixteenth century. He discusses the presence and function of sensation in Renaissance ideas and practices, investigating their link to mental imagery and shows how Renaissance artists made touch, sound and scent palpable to the minds of their audience. He points to the shifts in ideas and theories on representation, which were evolving throughout the century, and explains how this shaped early modern notions of art, spectatorship and artistic creation.

By setting art and ideas on representation side by side in the same intellectual environment, The Sensory World of Renaissance Art presents a comprehensive study of the period's theories of art in the context of the actual works. Extensively researched and beautifully illustrated, this book will appeal to students as well as scholars of art history, and indeed to anyone interested in this fascinating cultural period.

‘One major academic growth industry has been the historical study of the senses, in which the sensory hierarchies and experiences of the past are reconstructed. François Quiviger's The Sensory World of Renaissance Art is one of the most stimulating and ambitious.’ — The Art Newspaper

‘a learned but lucid account of how Renaissance theories of the five senses were represented in painting, beautifully illustrated and modestly priced.’ — Brian Vickers, Books of the Year,TLS

‘This small-format but richly illustrated book constructs the groundwork for further study of the representation of sensation in Italian Renaissance art. Responding to recent work in anthropology as well as cultural history, the author explores the relationship between visual perception, imagination, and bodily sensation in the historical experience of images . . . Quivigers study breathes life and meaning into the margins of Renaissance art, integrating what often seem discordant elements into the sensorial landscape.’ — Renaissance Quarterly

‘Quiviger here presents a cornucopia of ideas. Rather than drawing on traditional literary sources to elucidate the imagery of Renaissance painting in Italy, he approaches iconography from a contextual point of view. His methodology relates as well to cultural history, inasmuch as he deals with the development of sensory responses and mnemonics. His comments about the tuning of musical instruments, and the purpose of these images in religious and secular works of art, are particularly thoughtful . . . Highly recommended.’ — Choice

‘[Quivigers] contribution is the opening of a new field of historical cross-sensory research that seems very promising for art history, and he must be applauded for that. The easy accessibility of his writing and the small format of the book invite its use as a student's guide to the subject, leading the way into new exciting territory. It is to be highly recommended.’ — The Senses and Society

Show all

François Quiviger is a fellow of the Warburg Institute, University of London, where he previously worked as a librarian, curator of digital resources, researcher and teacher. He has written on Renaissance art theories, academies, wine, banquets and sensations.


Part One: Sensation in Renaissance Mental Imagery
1. The Scientific and Artistic Traditions
2. Imprese—Mnemonics—Meditation
3. The Human Figure in Renaissance Art
4. Ornament
5. Allegories
Part Two: Sensation in Representation
6. Sight
7. Touch
8. Smell
9. Sound
10. Banquets

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements