Bernard Berenson Lectures

The Italian Renaissance of Machines
Galluzzi, Paolo. 2020. The Italian Renaissance of Machines. Harvard University Press. Hollis Abstract

The Renaissance was not just a rebirth of the mind. It was also a new dawn for the machine.

When we celebrate the achievements of the Renaissance, we instinctively refer, above all, to its artistic and literary masterpieces. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however, the Italian peninsula was the stage of a no-less-impressive revival of technical knowledge and practice. In this rich and lavishly illustrated volume, Paolo Galluzzi guides readers through a singularly inventive period, capturing the fusion of artistry and engineering that spurred some of the Renaissance’s greatest technological breakthroughs.

Galluzzi traces the emergence of a new and important historical figure: the artist-engineer. In the medieval world, innovators remained anonymous. By the height of the fifteenth century, artist-engineers like Leonardo da Vinci were sought after by powerful patrons, generously remunerated, and exhibited in royal and noble courts. In an age that witnessed continuous wars, the robust expansion of trade and industry, and intense urbanization, these practitioners—with their multiple skills refined in the laboratory that was the Renaissance workshop—became catalysts for change. Renaissance masters were not only astoundingly creative but also championed a new concept of learning, characterized by observation, technical know-how, growing mathematical competence, and prowess at the draftsman’s table.

The Italian Renaissance of Machines enriches our appreciation for Taccola, Giovanni Fontana, and other masters of the quattrocento and reveals how da Vinci’s ambitious achievements paved the way for Galileo’s revolutionary mathematical science of mechanics.

The Early Renaissance and Vernacular Culture
Dempsey, Charles. 2012. The Early Renaissance and Vernacular Culture. Harvard University Press, xii, 384 p. Hollis Abstract

List of illustrations -- Introduction -- Courtly lyric I. Simone Martini, French courtly lyric, and the vernacular -- Courtly lyric II. Sandro Botticelli and Poliziano : humanist learning and the vernacular -- Civic ritual I. Cardinal Orsini's paintings and Baccio Baldini's engravings of the Sibyls : humanist learning and vernacular drama -- Civic ritual II. Reconstructing the vernacular octaves with the prophecies of the twelve Sibyls -- Appendix. Cardinal Orsini's twelve Sibyls and their prophecies in vernacular octaves reconstructed.

Giotto and His Publics: Three Paradigms of Patronage
Gardner, Julian. 2011. Giotto and His Publics: Three Paradigms of Patronage. Harvard University Press, xii, 240 p. Hollis Abstract

Introduction -- Giotto at Pisa : the Stigmatization for San Francesco -- Giotto among the money-changers : the Bardi Chapel in Santa Croce -- The lull before the storm : the Vele in the lower church at Assisi -- Conclusion -- Appendix. Inscriptions of the Vele -- Chronology."This probing analysis of three works by Giotto and the patrons who commissioned them goes far beyond the clichés of Giotto as the founding figure of Western painting. It traces the interactions between Franciscan friars and powerful bankers, illuminating the complex interplay between mercantile wealth and the iconography of poverty.Political strife and religious faction lacerated fourteenth-century Italy. Giotto's commissions are best understood against the background of this social turmoil. They reflected the demands of his patrons, the requirements of the Franciscan Order, and the restlessly inventive genius of the painter. Julian Gardner examines this important period of Giotto's path-breaking career through works originally created for Franciscan churches: Stigmatization of Saint Francis from San Francesco at Pisa, now in the Louvre, the Bardi Chapel cycle of the Life of St. Francis in Santa Croce at Florence, and the frescoes of the crossing vault above the tomb of Saint Francis in the Lower Church of San Francesco at Assisi.These murals were executed during a twenty-year period when internal tensions divided the friars themselves and when the Order was confronted by a radical change of papal policy toward its defining vow of poverty. The Order had amassed great wealth and built ostentatious churches, alienating many Franciscans in the process and incurring the hostility of other Orders. Many elements in Giotto's frescoes, including references to St. Peter, Florentine politics, and church architecture, were included to satisfy patrons, redefine the figure of Francis, and celebrate the dominant group within the Franciscan brotherhood."--BOOK JACKET.