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Title The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican
Author Blech, Benjamin ; Doliner, Roy
Price
€ 20,47
Format Hardcover
Pages 336
Year 2008
Editor HarperOne

Five hundred years ago Michelangelo began work on a painting that became one of the most famous pieces of art in the world—the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Every year millions of people come to see Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, which is the largest fresco painting on earth in the holiest of Christianity's chapels; yet there is not one single Christian image in this vast, magnificent artwork.

The Sistine Secrets tells the fascinating story of how Michelangelo embedded messages of brotherhood, tolerance, and freethinking in his painting to encourage "fellow travelers" to challenge the repressive Roman Catholic Church of his time.

"Driven by the truths he had come to recognize during his years of study in private nontraditional schooling in Florence, truths rooted in his involvement with Judaic texts as well as Kabbalistic training that conflicted with approved Christian doctrine, Michelangelo needed to find a way to let viewers discern what he truly believed. He could not allow the Church to forever silence his soul. And what the Church would not permit him to communicate openly, he ingeniously found a way to convey to those diligent enough to learn his secret language."    – from the Preface

Blech and Doliner reveal what Michelangelo meant in the angelic representations that brilliantly mocked his papal patron, how he managed to sneak unorthodox heresies into his ostensibly pious portrayals, and how he was able to fulfill his lifelong ambition to bridge the wisdom of science with the strictures of faith. The Sistine Secrets unearths secrets that have remained hidden in plain sight for centuries.
   
 
 

Title The Guide to Jewish Italy
Author Sacerdoti, Annie
Price
€ 18,98
Format Paperback
Pages 208
Year 2004
Editor Rizzoli International Publications

The Jewish community in Italy has a long and storied history going back more than two millennia to the days of the Roman Empire.

This remarkable guidebook-the only one of its kind-is a city by city survey of every location in Italy that contains art, artifacts, or architecture tied to the Jewish heritage of Italy.

Included are scores of synagogues as well as scrolls, texts, artifacts, and Jewish cemeteries. Of particular interest are sidebars explaining fascinating peculiarities of various Italian Jewish communities. For instance, Tuscan Jews in the medieval period spoke a distinctive version of Italian dialect peppered with phrases from Hebrew and other languages, a sort of Italian Yiddish.

Sure to fascinate devotees of Jewish culture and lovers of Italy, The Guide to Jewish Italy is perfect for armchair travelers and inveterate tourists alike.

 
 

Title The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance
Author Katz, Dana E.
Price
$ 55.00
Format Hardcover
Pages 248
Year 2008
Editor University of Pennsylvania Press

Renaissance Italy is often characterized as a place of unusual tolerance and privilege toward Jews. Unlike England, France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal, the princely courts of early modern Italy, particularly Urbino, Mantua, and Ferrara, offered economic and social prosperity to Jews. When anti-Jewish hostilities created civic tumult in this region, secular authorities promptly contained the violence.

Yet this written record tells only one part of the story. Pictures tell another. In The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance, Dana E. Katz reveals how Renaissance paintings and sculpture became part of a policy of tolerance that deflected violence to a symbolic status. While rulers upheld toleration legislation governing Christian- Jewish relations, they simultaneously supported artistic commissions that perpetuated violence against Jews. The economic benefits Jewish toleration supplied never outweighed the animosity toward Jews' participation in the Christian community.

Katz examines how particular forms of visual representation were used to punish Jews symbolically for alleged crimes against Christianity, including host desecration, deicide, and ritual murder. The production of such imagery testifies to the distinctive Jewry policies employed in the northern Italian princedoms, republican Florence, and imperial Trent. The book provides new insights into famous masterworks by Andrea Mantegna, Paolo Uccello, and others, placing these paintings within a larger discourse that incorporates noncanonical, provincial works of art.

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