A sweeping, epic history of the Renaissance artists, seen through the lens of something that perhaps occupied their thoughts and influenced their art the most…sex. Taking Donatello's provocative reinvention of the nude as his starting point, Jonathan shows how the story of the Renaissance is the story of a sexual revolution. The great artists of the 15th and 16th century were not just visionaries, but lovers. Jonathan argues that the famous nudes of Michelangelo and Titian are not abstract images of ideal beauty, but erotic expressions of love and desire; and that in order to understand the Renaissance, we have to understand the sex lives of the men and women who defined it - men like Raphael, who obsessively painted his lover La Fornarina in the nude, Michelangelo, who made beautiful drawings of naked male bodies to present to the young man he adored, and Rembrandt, whose bedroom portraits of Hendrickje Stoffels are the frankest expressions of love anywhere in art.Sweeping from its origins in Florence in the mid-15th century to its culmination in the work of Rubens and Rembrandt in the 17th, The Loves of the Artistsshows that the Renaissance invented eroticism as we know it, and that the new ways of thinking about sex it engendered are crucial to understanding not only art but European culture as a whole.
Jonathan Jones is the art critic of the Guardian. He appears in the BBC television series Private Life of a Masterpiece and gives talks at the Tate and other galleries. In 2009 he was a judge for the Turner Prize. Jonathan lives in London with his wife and daughter.