The current issue includes Stefano Carrai's " State of the Field" of Italian Literature, and articles by R. Nicosia, J. Haraguchi, M.S. Hansen, A.R. Jones, O.J. Margolis, C. Vecce, and G. Zak. Read Jane Tylus' Editor's Note.
- Jane Tylus, Editor’s Note (pp. 203-205) [see below]
State of the Field
- Stefano Carrai, Italian Poetry of the Renaissance: Recent Studies and New Perspectives (pp. 207-215)
- Gur Zak, Humanism as a Way of Life: Leon Battista Alberti and the Legacy of Petrarch (pp. 217-240)
- Oren J. Margolis, The “Gallic Crowd” at the “Aragonese Doors”: Donato Acciaiuoli’s Vita Caroli Magni and the Workshop of Vespasiano da Bisticci (pp. 241-282)
- Carlo Vecce, Arcadia at the Newberry (pp. 283-302)
- Roberto Nicosia, Alla scuola di Omero: Costantino Lascaris e la traduzione latina dell’Odissea nel De Aetna di Pietro Bembo (pp. 303-324)
- Morten Steen Hansen, After the Veronica: Crisis and the Ars sacra of Polidoro da Caravaggio and Pontormo (pp. 325-367)
- Jennifer Haraguchi, Vita di Eleonora: A Unique Example of Autobiographical Writing in Counter-Reformation Italy (pp. 369-397)
- Ann Rosalind Jones, Labor and Lace: The Crafts of Giacomo Franco’s ‘Habiti delle donne venetiane’ (pp. 399-425)
In January 2014, two panels from what was once a single spalliera were brought together for the first time in centuries and displayed in Villa I Tatti’s library: a scene from the Museo Stibbert depicting the abduction of Helen, and a painting in the Berenson collection that Berenson himself had referred to only as a “Mythological scene” (see image above). From the hand of the Sienese Francesco di Giorgio Martini, the two panels—which since 1910 have lived just several miles from one another—form a convincing narrative scene of Paris’s arrival on Cyprus and his subsequent kidnapping of Helen. If the I Tatti panel had been conceived as a self-contained if enigmatic world with a temple, an orchard, and women dancing in brightly colored dress—demonstrative of Francesco’s typical penchant for the architectural or ornamental detail that would render his work particularly “classical” in a Siena that continued to be dominated by religious paintings—it now takes on a more somber cast. So does this lovely, antique setting give way to a story that is at the heart of the Western literary tradition: the Trojan War. Homer was becoming only just available in Latin translation at the time of Francesco’s painting, as Poliziano was trying his hand at translating the Iliad from the Greek—and shortly before a youthful Pietro Bembo was learning Greek and writing a poem inspired by the Odyssey, De Aetna, as Roberto Nicosia details in his essay in this volume. At the same time, as the discussion on the I Tatti website makes clear, the source of this story of the abduction was most likely not Homer at all but the vernacular poem Il Troiano, composed by the Sienese Domenico da Monticchiello in the fourteenth century.1
The kind of sleuthing that went into the re-creation and interpretation of Francesco’s spalliera is interdisciplinary scholarship at its best—and indeed the scholarship that I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance is committed to publishing and that is represented in this volume. With the exception of Stefano Carrai’s masterful piece on recent trends in Renaissance literary studies in Italy, this is the first volume in our new series of ITS to feature essays independently submitted rather than a guest-edited cluster, and the range of topics, disciplines, and chronological moments is an impressive one. While none of them may touch on Francesco di Giorgio or Siena, Oren Margolis’s essay on Donato Acciaiuoli looks to a similar moment, the 1460s in Florence, as it focuses on a manuscript about Charlemagne that was at the center of a delicate diplomatic negotiation with France. Carlo Vecce’s article elegantly addresses the relationship between images and text in order to bring to light for the first time the owner of a richly illustrated edition of Sannazaro’s Arcadia found in the Newberry Library in Chicago: a somewhat older Pietro Bembo than the one discussed in Nicosia’s essay. Ann Rosalind Jones’s rich reflections on lace and its production take us to another moment in Venetian history, the seventeenth century, as she ponders the extent to which the use of lace revealed uncomfortable contradictions about Venetian society. Morten Steen Hansen explores the ramifications of plagues, sack, and sieges on the paintings of Jacopo Pontormo and Polidoro da Caravaggio, while Jennifer Haraguchi underscores the fascinating dynamics at work in the life and poetry of a Florentine woman active in the education of young girls, Eleonora Ramirez de Montalvo. And Gur Zak discusses the polymath Leon Battista Alberti and his departure from Petrarch’s textually-inspired humanism to embrace a more experiential humanism. This was an Alberti whose self-identification as a “renaissance man” was no doubt central for Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who likewise wrote architectural treatises and was a practicing engineer and painter—to be eclipsed only by Leonardo da Vinci.
Our spring volume will feature the four essays that were chosen in response to our call for new work on Islam and the Mediterranean World, along with a pair of essays on Giorgio Vasari and reflections on the “state of the field” in musicology and the history of science. And as Managing Editor Jessica Goethals leaves us to take up a fellowship at Villa I Tatti, I want to thank her for all of her work in getting this and our two earlier volumes off the ground. Dr. Alessandra Montalbano will be taking over as managing editor for this next year. My thanks too to Ashley Towne, who oversaw the production of volumes 16.1–2 and 17.1 at the University of Chicago Press and who has now passed the hat to Sarah Gardiner.
1 Fabio Bisogni first proposed the connection with the Stibbert panel in 1976. Marilena Caciorgna and Machtelt Israëls wrote the article on the exhibit, at http://itatti.harvard.edu/francesco-di-giorgios-abduction-helen-reconstructed.