The Grace of the Italian Renaissance

The Grace of the Italian Renaissance will explore grace as a complex keyword that at once conveys and connects the most pressing ethical, social, and aesthetic debates of the Italian Renaissance.

Grace surfaces time and again in the period’s discussions of the individual pursuit of the good life and in the collective quest to determine the best means to a harmonious society. It rises to prominence in theological debates about the soul’s salvation and in secular debates about how best to live at court. It plays a pivotal role in the campaign to develop a shared literary language and it features prominently in the efforts of writers and artists to express the full dignity of mankind. It is often treated at the level of a topic in the literate culture of the Italian Renaissance, but it is employed as an instrument of persuasion too, one whose sound is as sweet as it effects are amazing. Yet despite the profound importance of grace as a cultural and metaphysical word, it has never received the holistic treatment it deserves, tending instead to see one of its range of meanings singled out and essentialized. This project is the first to do justice to the semantic versatility of grace, exploring what it meant to leading artists, writers and philosophers; and demonstrating how it contributed to the most famous quarrels of that time.

  • Project funded by: A Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2017-19)

Project team

  • Ita Mac Carthy


  • Book: The Grace of the Italian Renaissance (Princeton University Press)

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