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The author then distinguishes Vernon Lee's methodology from Pater's and Symonds's, suggesting that the principal difference is that Lee became interested in material and spiritual, influences on art, in addition to historical context. For example, Lee identifies thematic shifts e.

The middle portion of Brown's chapter examines Vernon Lee's indebtedness to other thinkers who were radically influencing the decades in which she was writing. In Lee declared she "loathed art, abhorred aesthetics and that the only thing she really cared about was sociology and economics.

After appraising the personal relationship Lee maintained with James's brother, Henry, during the s and her eventual meeting with William James in Florence during , Brown concentrates on Lee's and William James's shared religious and cultural assumptions. By examining Lee's "The Responsibilities of Unbelief," the author concludes that, while neither she nor James were "dogmatic atheists" or Nihilists, their loss of belief in God, combined with the desire for social improvement, was common to many late Victorians and influenced her understanding of the pagan spirit that existed in Renaissance art and culture.

Just as importantly, Brown discusses the impact that William James's Principles of Psychology had upon Lee and its role in the charges of plagiarism brought against Lee by Berenson, who had, in fact, attended James's course on psychology and logic as a student at Harvard. The author's archival research is noteworthy, as is her explication about the nuances of the disagreement, which turned on Berenson's famous formulation that the painter can only accomplish his task "by giving tactile values to retinal impression.

The author stresses the fact that Lee had never kept any kind of diary or a record of her own or other persons' sayings, and that much of the quarrel hinged on whether Lee had a good enough memory to record Berenson's words verbatim during their visits to the Uffizi. Brown concludes the chapter by tracing the reconciliation between the parties, and, in so doing, brings a bit of humanity to academic personalities that can often seem fossilized. This essay, in its use of methodology, analysis, and concentrated scope serves as a model paradigm of the potential for historiography. Before the book's final feminist reading, the editors interject a chapter, D.

Chambers' "Edward Armstrong — , Teacher of the Italian Renaissance at Oxford," which is devoted to the historiography of a late Victorian university teacher at Oxford who, if not the most famous, was probably one of the most influential promoters of the Italian Renaissance.

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At the outset, the author probes Armstrong's innovative approach in designing a "Special Subject"—which meant a thematic course that required a close and critical reading of contemporary source material in the original language—relating to the Italian Renaissance; and the political obstacles that had to be overcome before The Faculty Board formally adopted it into the curriculum. Chambers is quick to point out that, once on the books, the class remained there for the better part of a century, and would be studied by a long succession of undergraduates, many of whom later became professional Renaissance historians or art historians.

Before digging into Armstrong's writings, Chambers comments that the word "Renaissance" does not appear in the title of the Special Subject, probably a deliberate omission so that the course would not have been associated with the literary aestheticism of Walter Pater, which would have been taboo to most members of the History Faculty Board at Oxford; according to the author, Pater and Armstrong were in most ways complete opposites, with the latter delivering lectures in a strictly factual format.

Chambers' analysis of Armstrong's printed works first concentrates on his life of Lorenzo de' Medici Claiming that it contains insights which sometimes anticipate the findings of research carried out in Florence over the following century, and still in progress today, the author suggests that Armstrong's study was all the better for want of Pater's advice.

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Yet Chambers does not hesitate to identify Lorenzo 's shortcomings, particularly its almost complete lack of footnotes or references to sources. The author's historiography also examines Armstrong's other published contributions to Renaissance historical studies, which Chambers now finds very dated in their "ethical-political" approach. The overall impression left with this reader is that Armstrong's written output was thin.

Nevertheless, the chapter runs consistent with the volume's methodology, bolsters the book's aims, and expands the scope of its examination. Benjamin G. Kohl's chapter, "Cecilia M. Ady: The Edwardian Education of a Historian of Renaissance Italy," is the book's last exploration of a female art historian. The essay, which plots the scholar's first steps in becoming one of Oxford's leading historians of the Italian Renaissance in the mid-twentieth century, adopts a biographical methodology; however, the author's archival research is impressive, relying on the extensive diaries of Ady's mother, Julia Cartwright, whose life and work is briefly addressed in Fraser's earlier chapter.

Much of Chambers' chapter chronicles the arduous task of publishing Ady's book about the Sforza monuments in Milan, as well as her extensive travels and opportunistic rise through the ranks of a male-dominated academic environment. It is not until the end of the chapter that Kohl evaluates Ady's methodology, a combination of detailed narrative with copious translations from primary sources that "owed much both to Armstrong's brand of political history and her mother's rather amateurish approach to depicting the life and times of significant figures of Renaissance Italy.

Russell Price's essay, "L. Arthur Burd, Lord Acton, and Machiavelli," is surprising for its claim that during most of the nineteenth century in Great Britain, despite a widespread knowledge of Italian among the educated classes, there was little interest in Machiavelli. This essay begins by setting apart Burd's version of Il Principe The Prince from several new translations that became available during the s and s, emphasizing that later editors and commentators frequently used Burd's edition.

The beginning of Price's text also illuminates the difficulties of accounting for Burd's biographical information, despite his fame as a Machiavelli scholar; however, through clever hypotheses and rigorous archival research, Price presents valuable information. The author's most important findings address Burd's relationship with Lord Acton, to whom he served as a tutor for his only son, and with whom he shared common intellectual interests that resulted in a decade-long literary collaboration.

Evidently, Acton, a former Cambridge University professor who maintained a deep interest in Machiavelli, helped Burd considerably in his studies by suggesting books to read and points to consider or develop. He also helped proofread the manuscript and reviewed Burd's volume for the monthly periodical, The Nineteenth Century , in April The historiography then provides an account of other contemporary reviews, most of them eliciting universal praise for Burd's thorough treatment of Machiavelli's 'sources' and his Historical Abstract.

Among these, there was much praise for Acton's Introduction, with the only reservation that it was found to be far from easy reading. Price concludes his chapter with an analysis of two other substantial pieces on Machiavelli from Burd's hand. The first was a long study, "The literary Sources of Machiavelli's Arte della Guerra, together with illustrative Diagrams ," which is lauded by the author for its almost exclusive use of ancient sources that required expertise in the Latin and Greek languages and a literatures. Again, Price's archival research is impressive, discovering correspondence between the men dealing with both design problems in publication and Burd's lack of confidence in tackling the topic.

In all, this chapter, which may have been better served by positioning it toward the middle of the volume after Gaja's chapter about Lorenzo the Magnificent, is characteristic of the high quality of scholarship addressing topics that are so often overlooked by contemporary art historians.

The final chapter breaks from the strictly Florentine context in Edward D. English's "Medieval and Renaissance Siena and Tuscany c. It specifically considers the biographies of four authors, known as the "Sienese Gang," who wrote about that late medieval and Renaissance city and its culture and art.

In a tightly controlled, well-organized essay, English offers some preliminary observations on the four authors' interpretations and assumptions about the history of the Tuscan city-state, particularly as seen through the lens of Burckhardt's bourgeois ethos. In addition, the author examines the lives and accomplishments of the Sienese Gang within the intellectual framework established by Edward Said's Orientalism ; although a well-established interpretation of imperialist politics, Said's work seems unnecessary in this historiography.

So it is that once English embarks upon telling the story of these relatively unknown authors, the book's mission to expand Italian Renaissance studies is well served. English argues that the Sienese Gang—comprised of Edmund G. Gardner — , William Heywood — , Robert Langton Douglas — and Edward Hutton — —produced much better writing and more sophisticated historical material than the usual run of travel and local history writers, establishes they were also good friends or acquaintances with the director of the state archives of Siena, and hints that each of these authors' eventual conversion to Catholicism may have impacted their sensitivity to the Tuscan environment and culture.

Methodologically, English interprets their books as having approached these city-states in terms of culture "in the round," which he defines as including politics, society, art, religion, architecture, topography and secular and religious literature. English accounts for the Siena Gang's popular appeal on the grounds that their books "encouraged a leisurely but serious acquaintance with their cities rather than compulsively marching readers through museums and streets in what contemporaries called a Ruskinian 'school mistress or master' way.

The author also acknowledges the Sienese Gang's trumpeting of the Tuscan devotion to the Virgin and its reflection in civic ritual and art, which was much different from earlier Victorian attitudes toward Mariology.

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Overall, it seems as though the editors have conceived this chapter as something of a "book-end," because its use of primary sources mirrors those employed by Graham Smith in chapter one; however, English's contribution does not end this volume with the same intensity found throughout the book. Responses to the Italian Renaissance is an academic "must read" not only for those with a particular interest in this time period, but also for graduate students who are being introduced to methodology.

This volume is an excellent example of how to direct a scholar's attention to the importance of archival research and historiography. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Humanism in England. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Thomas Meacham said, on 31 July, at pm. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.

Email required Address never made public. Name required. Search for:. It allowed Bibles, secular books, printed music and more to be made in larger amounts and reach more people. Wilde said one of the most significant changes that occurred during the Renaissance was the "evolution of Renaissance humanism as a method of thinking … This new outlook underpinned so much of the world then and now. Wilde described Renaissance humanism as "attempts by man to master nature rather than develop religious piety. Renaissance readers understood these classical texts as focusing on human decisions, actions and creations, rather than unquestioningly following the rules set forth by the Catholic Church as "God's plan.

England in the Italian Renaissance

Renaissance humanism was an "ethical theory and practice that emphasized reason, scientific inquiry and human fulfillment in the natural world," said Abernethy. Both classical and Renaissance art focused on human beauty and nature. People, even when in religious works, were depicted living life and showing emotion. Perspective and light and shadow techniques improved and paintings looked more three-dimensional and realistic.

Patrons made it possible for successful Renaissance artists to work and develop new techniques. The Catholic Church commissioned most artwork during the Middle Ages, and while it continued to do so during the Renaissance, wealthy individuals also became important patrons, according to Cox. The most famous patrons were the Medici family in Florence, who supported the arts for much of the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Florence was the initial epicenter of Renaissance art but by the end of the 15 th century, Rome had overtaken it. Pope Leo X a Medici ambitiously filled the city with religious buildings and art.


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This period, from the s to the s, is known as the High Renaissance. As with art, musical innovations in the Renaissance were partly made possible because patronage expanded beyond the Catholic Church. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art , new technologies resulted in the invention of several new instruments, including the harpsichord and violin family. The printing press meant that sheet music could be more widely disseminated. Renaissance music was characterized by its humanist traits. Composers read classical treatises on music and aimed to create music that would touch listeners emotionally.

They began to incorporate lyrics more dramatically into compositions and considered music and poetry to be closely related, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Renaissance literature, too, was characterized by humanist themes and a return to classical ideals of tragedy and comedy, according to the Brooklyn College English Department.

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Shakespeare's works, especially "Hamlet," are good examples of this. Themes like human agency, life's non-religious meanings and the true nature of man are embraced, and Hamlet is an educated Renaissance man. The most prevalent societal change during the Renaissance was the fall of feudalism and the rise of a capitalist market economy, said Abernethy.

Increased trade and the labor shortage caused by the Black Death gave rise to something of a middle class. Workers could demand wages and good living conditions, and so serfdom ended.