- I Tatti
Online exhibition about Bernard and Mary
I Tatti is pleased to announce the opening of an online exhibition: Berenson and Harvard: Bernard and Mary as Students. In 1884, when Bernard Berenson and Mary Whitall Smith arrived separately at Harvard, neither could have imagined that they would later meet, marry, and transform the study of Italian Renaissance art from their home at I Tatti. At the core of the exhibition on the I Tatti website are rare and unpublished materials about these early years, including Mary’s “Life of Bernard Berenson,” Bernard’s application for a Parker Fellowship, his senior thesis on “Talmudo-Rabbinical Eschatology”, and the essays, reviews, and short stories he published in the Harvard Monthly. The interests of both students, especially in psychology, Arabic poetry, and Aestheticism, had a profound impact on their later scholarship, and on Bernard’s extraordinary fame as a public intellectual. The early writings of Bernard and Mary, together with new essays by a half dozen scholars, provide intriguing portraits of the art critics during their university years.
In her draft biography of Bernard, Mary recalled that in 1887, “he had been pointed out to me at one of the University concerts as the most brilliant member of the then Sophomore class.” Similarly, Edith Wharton encouraged Mary in 1932 to include more details about Bernard’s “Harvard days, when he was ‘stupor mundi’ to undergraduates and professors.” The next year, in the preface to A Modern Pilgrimage, Mary wrote that the celebrated library at I Tatti would be “for future students, who, as we hope, will benefit from the ‘Institute for Humanistic Studies’ which we mean to found under the auspices of our common university, Harvard.” In 1961, two years after Bernard’s death, the first Fellows arrived for a year of study at I Tatti. In its 50th year of activity, the Center commemorates two exceptional Harvardians with this online exhibition.