Bruce Boucher of the Sir John Soane's Museum in London (one of my favorite museums) has listed five books to read during lockdown.
Burckhardt entertained the idea of writing a second volume, explaining the art of the Renaissance against its historical background, but he abandoned the project as he could not integrate the two subjects to his own satisfaction. Still, he had the remarkable ability to project himself into historical and artistic subjects and illuminate them as, for example, the story of a condottiere who saved a city-state like Siena from foreign aggression. When the citizens debated how to reward him, they felt that no reward was great enough, not even to be made lord of their city. Finally, a member of the council said, “Let us kill him and worship him as our patron saint,” which they did. The vignette illustrates the immorality of political conduct in the Renaissance, which gave birth to a more pragmatic, secular world. Burckhardt’s Italo-centric approach to the Renaissance has often been challenged; yet it is still essential reading for an understanding of origins of the modern Western world.