In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the term Italy' described not a nation but rather a collection of individual city states, each with its own cultural and political characteristics. Olson provides a well defined overview of significant works of art as she explores the artistic influence that each region bestowed on some of the great names of Italian sculpture; Pisano, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo and Giambologna.
The sculptors of the Italian Renaissance transformed their Classical and regional heritage. From about 1260 to 1600, these masters introduced revolutionary innovations in freestanding figures and portraits, while on reliefs convincing perspective was rendered for the first time, predating its use in painting. The Renaissance notion of the artist as genius is vividly embodied in contemporary sculptors, from Nicola Pisano through Brunelleschi and Donatello to Michelangelo and Giambologna. Roberta Olson surveys the extraordinary artistic achievements of the period, which were to affect for ever after the practice of Western art.