Turning a skeptical eye on the idea that Renaissance artists were widely believed to be as utterly admirable as Vasari claimed, this book re-opens the question of why artists were praised and by whom, and specifically why the language of divinity was invoked, a practice the ancients did not license. The epithet ''divino'' is examined in the context of claims to liberal arts status and to analogy with poets, musicians, and other ''uomini famossi.'' The reputations of Michelangelo and Brunelleschi are compared not only with each other but with those of Dante and Ariosto, of Aretino and of the ubiquitous beloved of the sonnet tradition. Nineteenth-century reformulations of the idea of Renaissance artistic divinity are treated in the epilogue, and twentieth-century treatments of the idea of artistic "ingegno" in an appendix.
Patricia Emison, Ph.D. (1985) in the History of Art, Columbia University, is Professor at the University of New Hampshire. She specializes in the history of Italian Renaissance prints and is the author of
Low and High Style in Italian Renaissance Art (Garland, 1997).
...an extemely rich and informative account...' David Hemsoll,
JEMH, 2005. '
This is surely one of the most stimulating books on Renaissance art history written in recent years…' Robert W. Gaston,
Renaissance Quarterly. '
This is a big book – an ambitious, wide-ranging, spirited, learned, and expansive book. It will be of interest to those scholars of Italian Renaissance art especially concerned with the emergence of the modern idea of the artist...a rich weave of intellectual history...The virtue of Emison's bountiful book is that it both consolidates and broadens our view of the modern idea of the "divine" artist. Her stimulating work now puts us in an excellent position, however, to turn our attention more fully to the partially acknowledged but still far too negelected role of theology in shaping Renaissance ideas about the "divine" artist.' Paul Barolsky,
CAA Reviews, 2004.
Well versed in cinquecento literary and musical theory as well as the visual arts, Emison has written a work that is wide-ranging, imaginative, graceful, and citation-rich. From cover to binding, the book is also beautifully produced, with dozens of seldom-seen images complementing the text. James C. Hughes,
Sixteenth Century Journal XXXVII/1 (2006)
Acknowledgements List of Illustrations Introduction The Sponge of Protogenes Not Quite the Liberal Artist The Divine Poet, Twinned
Idioti or Angels Listening for the Music of the Spheres The Artist as
Huomo Famosissimo Epilogue: The Romantic Deluge Appendix: The Historiography of
Ingegno Appendix: Fornari’s Gloss on Ariosto’s Canto XXXIII
Illustrations Bibliography Index
All those interested in the Renaissance, in the history of reputation, and in theories of creativity.