Italian Renaissance villas and gardens
In the 14th century, the Italian villa was a large country house, often fortified, that stood at the heart of an agricultural estate. Some of these houses became increasingly centred around the pursuit of entertainment and leisure, and in the process were remodelled.
Donatello and Florence
Donatello was born and died in Florence, and was a favourite of Cosimo de' Medici (1389–1464), a member of the family that, in effect, ruled the Republic of Florence. Artistic production was flourishing in Florence at this time, with patrons vying to attract the best artists to embellish religious, civic and domestic buildings and to make devotional and domestic objects. The talented Donatello was much in demand. His powerful sculptures could be seen across the cityscape of Florence.
The Ascension Relief by Donatello, 1428-30
Donatello is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the 1400s and this marble panel is one of the finest surviving examples of his innovative work in extremely low relief. You can listen to a description of the panel, and learn more about the life of Donatello in a second audio.
Cosimo I de' Medici: Renaissance Patron
Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519–74) was Duke of Florence between 1537 and his death. The de’ Medicis were renowned for their patronage of the arts, and Cosimo I continued this tradition, supporting artists such as the painter, architect and biographer, Giorgio Vasari. You can listen to a description of a tapestry designed by Vasari for Cosimo I and listen to a madrigal composed by Francesco Corteccia and dedicated by him to Cosimo.
Renaissance music 1400–1600
The recordings you can listen to on this page are featured throughout the Museum's Medieval & Renaissance galleries and complement significant objects in the collection. The recordings were made by the Royal College of Music especially for the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries thanks to an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
During the Italian Renaissance, charismatic preachers spoke not only about spiritual matters but also about the social, political, moral and economic issues of the day. They had a profound effect on people’s lives, both spiritual and earthly. They shaped views, and by extension legislation, affecting such issues as the treatment of Jews, homosexuality, and prostitution.
Medieval & Renaissance hunting
Hunting in the medieval period was a sport exclusive to royalty and the aristocracy, and was more than a pastime. The elaborate rituals of the hunt were an integral part of court etiquette, and skill in hunting was regarded as the peacetime equivalent of prowess in chivalric wars.