A book’s title, especially when the author’s name has not been encountered before, generates expectations about what will be found inside. In the case of Lorne Campbell’s Renaissance Portraits, what one discovers upon first turning the pages is so remote from what could have been anticipated that one’s immediate response may be to dismiss it with irritation. The book leaves out many of the expected and perhaps obligatory things, including, for extreme example, any discussion of the Mona Lisa, which is mentioned only twice in the context of other matters. Yet if one sticks with the book, one finds that its unusual treatment of its subject is well worth registering. Indeed, one discovers that, despite its obvious quirkiness, it offers a well-based survey of some aspects of the subject that have been too little considered.

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