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Steffi Roettgen's first volume, Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance, 1400-1470, was called "by far the finest book on the subject" by Everett Fahy, chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If this second volume, focusing on the Renaissance from 1470 to 1510, is even more beautiful, it is because the artists represented here--including Boticelli, Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, Perugino, and Fra Angelico--represent, as the subtitle puts it, "the flowering of the Renaissance." The 470-page book, which documents fresco cycles by more than a score of artists in 16 different locations, is organized by place, with each chapel, sacristy, or cloister treated separately, in its own chapter. The mostly uncaptioned color plates fill the large pages in a carefully organized sequence, according to maps of the buildings (or ceilings or walls) that are shaded to show each cycle of paintings as it is pictured. Roettgen's text, translated by the excellent Russell Stockman, is masterly--clear and authoritative, descriptive and interpretive--but the success of Roettgen's great undertaking also depends largely on the photographs by Antonio Quattrone, primarily, and Fabio Lensini. Quattrone in some cases has captured the frescoes' balance, color, and realism--and their lovely details--with the kind of clarity that no one has brought to them before. His lighting is shadowless, his camera centered and still. These remarkable photographs give the reader a privileged view instead of the dim, squinting one we normally have, from below. It's almost like being on the scaffold with the artists themselves. --Peggy Moorman [via]