The Renaissance Lets Its Hair Down
The notion that everybody was going to be hairless in Heaven may not have sat well with Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli.
The Anatomical Machines of Naples’ Alchemist Prince
Rumor had it that these machines were once the Prince’s servants, whom he murdered and transformed into anatomical displays. Scholars showed otherwise.
Chivalric Romance, Meet Gunpowder Reality
The manly knight wouldn't have lasted a day in sixteenth-century combat. So why was he so popular as a literary figure at the time?
How Renaissance Artisans Turned Live Animals into Silver
Lifecasting was the renaissance art of making sculptures using molds taken from real-life plants and animals.
These Bizarre Ivory Cups Were Carved by Princes
The royal houses of Europe felt that it would be good for their sons to learn a manual trade. Artisans taught nobles to carve ivory on a lathe.
The Beaufort Botanist and Her “Innocent Diversion”
Despite the twelve volume herbarium she created, this seventeenth-century scientist earned little recognition.
Public Dissection Was a Gruesome Spectacle
Renaissance-era anatomists taught people to “knowe thyself” by reading the books of bodies.
Some Books Can Kill
Poisonous green pigments laced with arsenic were once a common ingredient in book bindings, paints, wallpapers, and fabrics. Yikes.
Lesbianism (!) at the Convent
Mother Superior Benedetta Carlini, a visionary nun of Renaissance Italy, was accused of heresy and “female sodomy.”
How Did Michelangelo Get So Good?
Michelangelo, perhaps the greatest artist the world has produced, wasn't a child prodigy like Mozart. He learned on the job. So maybe there's still hope for the rest of us.