A Very British Renaissance

Confirmed for BBC Two on 21 March at 9.00pm to 10.00pm

Ep 1/3

Friday 21 March



When most people think of the Renaissance, they don't think of England - they think of Italy, and the talent and exuberance of Leonardo and Michelangelo creating glorious works of art.

Now, in a new series for BBC Two, Dr James Fox looks back at a forgotten British Renaissance, celebrating an age that saw Britain shed its medieval shackles and embrace a world of cutting-edge art, literature, architecture and science.

Across three episodes, James reveals the painters, sculptors, poets, thinkers and figures who, he argues, brought a bold and beautiful artistic movement to our shores between the 1500s to the start of the English civil war.

In the opening episode, James explores how the Renaissance arrived, with a handful of influential European artists bringing ideas from the continent in the early 16th century - from the inspiration of Torrigiano, who fled Florence after a fist fight with Michelangelo, to Holbein and his influence on painter John Bettes - thought to be the first English Renaissance-trained artist. Although impossible without this foreign stimulus, this renaissance quickly became quintessentially British - and it was gaining momentum.