This important and beautiful book accompanies the opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum's spectacular new Medieval and Renaissance galleries. Among the textiles, paintings, sculpture, glass, metalwork, prints, manuscripts, furniture, ceramics and jewelry featured here are such renowned treasures as the Devonshire tapestries, the Leonardo Notebooks, Donatello's Ascension relief, the reliquary casket of St. Thomas Becket, and many more astonishing works. Organized thematically, the book explores the social contexts responsible for these captivating objects, both commonplace and precious, recovering the attitudes of makers and owners of the time toward artistic practice. Rather than adopting the traditional sharp distinction between the Medieval and Renaissance, the authors explore aspects of the whole of this long period in European design and manufacture an approach that emphasizes the continuities and gradual developments that were often as significant as sudden upheaval. A general historical introduction to the social and political background is followed by chapters that explore concepts of art, workshops, and sales, the classical past, ornament, religious art, health and body, and the ways in which objects themselves express the attitudes of their owners.