The Aesthetics of Grace: Philosophy, Art, and Nature, Raffaele Milani traces the fascinating history of the idea of ‘grace’ from ancient times to the 1700s. Although this term has been displaced by other concepts with the advent of modernism and postmodernism, the complex ideas related to the notion of ‘grace’ remain an important aesthetic category, and Milani presents an impressive panorama of reflections on and interpretations of the subject. The subtitle of the work indicates the broad scope of a study that recounts the origins of the term in Latin
gratias (favor, regard, or gift), corresponding to the Greek
Kharites (givers of beauty and charm). The volume then goes on to examine the Middle Ages, when the concept acquires a more specifically religious meaning (divine mercy, thanks), the Renaissance, when the terms ‘gracefulness’ and ‘elegance’ come to dominate in the treatises of the time, and the Ages of Romanticism and Neoclassicism, with their particular treatment of the topic. In the process, Milani meditates on the visual representations of these multiple meanings in the form of second-century frescoes, fifteenth-century paintings by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Da Vinci, Mantegna, Correggio, and Carracci, seventeenth-century canvases by Poussin and sculptures by Bernini, and eighteenth-century sculptures by Antonio Canova and paintings by Fragonard. This engaging work weaves with skill and subtlety philosophical, theological, and artistic ideas into a stimulating tapestry.
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 205 pp.
Raffaele Milani is Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Bologna, Italy, and the author of numerous books, including
The Art of the Landscape (2009), Il paesaggio è un ‘avventura (The Adventure of Landscape, 2005), Il pittoresco
(The Picturesque, 1996), and Le categorie estetiche (The Aesthetic Categories, 1991). Corrado Federici holds an
MA and a PhD in Italian literature from the University of Toronto. His recent publications include English translations of
Franco Cardini’s La società medievale (The Companion to Medieval Society, 2012), Renato Barilli’s Scienza della
cultura e fenomenologia degli stili (The Science of Culture and the Phenomenology of Styles, 2012), and Raffaele Milani’s
L’arte del paesaggio (The Art of the Landscape, 2010). He is also co-editor of the following collections of essays:
Rewriting Texts – Remaking Images (Peter Lang, 2010), Disguise, Deception, Trompe-l’oeil (Peter Lang, 2009),
and Beauty and the Abject (Peter Lang, 2007).