THE STUDIES PRESENTED in this volume are intended for students of Italian Renaissance history and art. They explore, from a range of viewpoints, the relationship between religious belief, as manifest in various institutional and private forms in fifteenth-century Italy, and the expressive means by which Renaissance Italians articulated what they believed. It is the editors' and authors' hope that these studies may contribute to the ongoing process of redefinition of the civilization of the Renaissance and offer insights into the more fundamental issue of the role of religious faith in the evolution of Western culture.
The essays that comprise this volume, together with others already published in Arte lombarda and elsewhere (see the bibliographical note at the end of this preface), grew out of a symposium held in America and Italy in the spring and summer of 1985, which in turn may be said to have developed in four stages. In the immediate background were the 1980 symposium "Monasticism and the Arts" and its related exhibition, "Monastic Themes in Renaissance Art," at Yale and in Washington, D.C. Parallel to their examination of the art and life of religious orders was new research into lay spirituality and confraternities by historians associated with the Harvard Center in Florence and by others. A third aspect of the project developed out of the documentation of Lombard monuments, which offered a particularly coherent illustration of the connection between monastic reform and the art and architecture in one major center of Renaissance culture -- Milan and its environs. Finally, the Cattedra di Storia della Miniatura e delle Arti Minori (Dipartimento di Studi sul Medioevo e Rinascimento) of the Università di Firenze, in cataloguing and interpreting objects of liturgical and "popular" religious art, provided an ideal accompaniment to the themes discussed in Christianity and the Renaissance: an exhibit at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze of woodcut illustrations of the writings