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Blessed and Beautiful

Picturing the Saints

Robert Kiely


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A profound, witty, and informative account of the lives of the saints depicted in the devotional art of the Renaissance

This book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the lives of the saints and the images of them painted by Renaissance artists in Italy. Robert Kiely, a distinguished scholar of modernist literature and a historian and critic of exceptional sensibility, has a keen eye and uncanny ability to capture details of significance and to prompt the reader to look again and to see with fresh eyes that the lives of saints and the Renaissance depictions of them are anything but dull, uniform, or narrowly orthodox. His beautifully written and thoughtful book treats saints seriously as human religious figures (not icons of perfection), brought to life by great Italian paintings in dialogue with scripture, legend, and poetry.

Wise, learned, and readable, and offering a rare combination of insight into religion, literature, and art, this ravishingly illustrated and vividly written volume should be by your side whenever you pick up a classic text, look at a Renaissance painting, or spend a few moments in private meditation or prayer.

Praise For Blessed and Beautiful: Picturing the Saints

"This is simply one of the best books ever written about Christian art."—Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald (UK)
— Jonathan Wright

"Magnificently illustrated and beautifully conceived . . . trenchant and even witty without being ponderous."—Tracey O'Shaughnessy, Republican-American

— Tracey O'Shaughnessy

"Robert Kiely's book is magnificently illustrated and beautifully conceived. . . . Kiely's essays are trenchant and even witty without being ponderous. This is a wonderful gift for the devout Christian or art aficionado who would like to learn more about both."—Tracy O'Shaughnessy, The Sunday Republican
— Tracy O'Shaughnessy

"Kiely's book is best for readers interested in both artistic and literary depictions of the saints and for libraries focusing on art history or religion."—Martha Smith,
— Martha Smith

Yale University Press, 9780300162776, 288pp.

Publication Date: October 26, 2010

About the Author

Robert Kiely is professor emeritus of English, Harvard University. His books include The Romantic Novel in England; Beyond Egotism: The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence; and Reverse Tradition, Postmodern Fiction and the Nineteenth-Century Novel.