Earthly Delights

A History of the Renaissance


Hailed by The Times as ‘a pearl of a book’, this new narrative history of the Renaissance by one of the UK’s foremost art critics takes in the whole of Europe and its global context


ISBN: 9780500023136 Category:

Jonathan Jones


A Sunday Times Art Book of the Year: written by one of the UK’s foremost art critics, this new narrative history of the Renaissance takes in the whole of Europe and its global context.

What was the ‘Renaissance’? In the nineteenth century this flowering of creativity and thought was celebrated as the birth of the modern world. Today many historians are sceptical about its very existence. Earthly Delights rekindles the Renaissance as a seismic change in European mentalities, in a panoramic history that encompasses Florence and Bruges, London and Nuremberg. Artists from northern as well as southern Europe, including Leonardo, Bosch, Bruegel and Titian, star in a captivating and beautifully illustrated narrative that sets their lives against a period of convulsive change across a continent that was finding itself as it ‘discovered’ the world.

Art critic and writer Jonathan Jones tells the story of Renaissance artists as pioneers, adventurers and ‘geniuses’, a Renaissance concept. Albrecht Dürer gazes with wonder on Aztec art in Brussels in 1520, Leonardo da Vinci tries to perfect a flying machine, Hieronymus Bosch finds inspiration in West African ivory carvings imported by the Portuguese to Antwerp. A then unknown Netherlandish painter, Pieter Bruegel, arrives in 1550s Rome just as Michelangelo is striving in the same city to raise the new St Peter’s Basilica towards heaven. From Atlantic voyages to Germanic woods, Italian palazzi to the royal castle of Prague, this was an age when people dared to experiment with the occult and dabble in utopias: to think and create new worlds.

Additional information

Weight 1136 g
Dimensions 20 x 25.4 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 19 October 2023
Number of pages 336
Format Hardback
Dimensions 20 x 25.4 cm
Weight 1136 g


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Jonathan Jones is the art critic for the Guardian newspaper. He is the author of several books including The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance (2010), The Loves of the Artists: Art and Passion in the Renaissance (2013), Sensations: The Story of British Art from Hogarth to Banksy (2019) and Artemisia Gentileschi (2020). Jones was also a member of the jury for the 2009 Turner Prize and has appeared in the BBC series Private Life of a Masterpiece. He was Series Consultant for BBC2's Civilisations and is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4's Front Row.