Thursday Seminar. Challenging the Chancellor: Leonardo Bruni, Giannozzo Manetti, and Leon Battista Alberti


Thursday, January 25, 2024, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


I Tatti
Leon Battista Alberti, Self-Portrait c. 1435. National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection

Speaker: David Marsh (Rutgers University / I Tatti)

In the first half of the fifteenth century, Florentine humanism was dominated by Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444), the famed translator of Greek classics who was also the chancellor of Florence and its official historian. Eventually and perhaps inevitably, his primacy was both recognized and challenged by the two greatest Florentine humanists of the next generation: Giannozzo Manetti (1396-1459) and Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472). The singular achievements of these two younger Florentines were soon recognized by their contemporaries and memorialized by successive generations of humanists. Above all, their legacy was assured by the biographies composed by the bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421-1498), whose Lives, “discovered” in 1847, inspired the Swiss scholar Jacob Burckhardt to inaugurate the historical study of the Italian Renaissance.

David Marsh received his B.A. at Yale in Greek and English, summa cum laude, in 1972; and his Ph.D. at Harvard in Comparative Literature in 1978. Professor of Italian at Rutgers University, he is a specialist in the classical tradition in Italy from Petrarch to Vico. His books include The Quattrocento Dialogue (1980), Lucian and the Latins (1998), Studies on Alberti and Petrarch (2012), The Experience of Exile in Italian Writers (2013), and Giannozzo Manetti: The Life of a Florentine Humanist (2019). He has also translated Alberti’s Dinner Pieces (1987), Vico’s New Science (1999), Petrarch’s Invectives (2003), an anthology of Renaissance Fables (2004), and Manetti’s Against the Jews and the Gentiles (2017). His revised English translation of Alberti’s Dinner Pieces will appear in 2024 as part of the I Tatti Renaissance Library series.

Image: Leon Battista Alberti, Self-Portrait c. 1435. National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection


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