Review Of "Renaissance Architecture: Critics, Patrons, Luxury" By D. Thomson

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



Thomson, known heretofore for a monographic article on B. A. du Cerceau in Bulletin monumental, addresses architecture obliquely in this book, its concern being building activities rather than buildings; but it is an admirable accomplishment in social and intellectual history. In the first two chapters, he combs through literary references to luxury--both criticisms and justifications--from antiquity to the Renaissance. In Chapter 3, he examines antiquity as defined in architectural treatises and pattern books from Renaissance Europe--especially those based on, and/or derived from, Vitruvius--and posits sensibly that nationalist rivalries, which used them differently, engendered Renaissance architectures marked by magnificence and built on wealth (the subject of Chapter 4), ethically justified and extravagantly spent. The concluding chapter, a teasingly brief Marxist envoi, discusses poverty--the subject, one hopes, for a sequel, which this book calls for as a necessary pendant. Like John Onion's Bearers of Meaning (CH, Oct'89), the book provides a new context for reexamining Renaissance architecture. Illustrations are well chosen and adequate; endnotes are full. Recommended for academic and public libraries, especially for history and architecture collections.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.