Books: The continuities in Medieval and Renaissance art at the V&A

A deep look into the remarkable objects now on display in the museum's recently opened galleries


The purpose of this book is to provide the historical background and intellectual context of the objects and displays in the recently opened Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The conjunction of these two periods is radical: what it makes clear is that, far from being the watershed of European history, the Renaissance is—in its firmly Christian world view and general anthropocentric culture—more a part of the Middle Ages than of the modern world (which can be more convincingly said to have begun in the 17th century). At the same time, the authors are careful to show the great diversity of cultures that flourished during this time and, above all, they do what the V&A has always done best: provide carefully researched, detailed and comprehensible explanations of the works of art—their makers, materials, manufacture, markets and uses. The book has a general historical introduction, followed by seven thematic essays, each followed by four or five detailed examinations of objects. One would be hard put to imagine any other museum in the world so well equipped for such an ambitious enterprise.

o Glyn Davies and Kristin Kennedy, Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions, V&A Publishing, £40, $80 (hb) ISBN 9781851775798

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions Glyn Davies and Kristin Kennedy'