In the first contemporary single-volume survey of the three arts of Venice—painting, sculpture, and architecture—Norbert Huse and Wolfgang Wolters offer an important counterbalance to the traditional orientation toward painting as the city's preeminent art by focusing on architecture as the essential Venetian art. They begin their study in 1460, when Venice was one of the key powers of Italy, and end with the death of Tintoretto in 1594, a period of waning international power. In the process, they define the distinctly Venetian terms by which the city and its culture should be understood. With over three hundred illustrations and an exhaustive bibliography, this volume makes an impressive contribution to art historical scholarship.
"The historical aspect of this book is splendid, but where it excels is in its fearless and thought-provoking critical judgements. . . . it will lead both beginners and experts to new joys."—David Ekserdjian, Times Literary Supplement
Charged by the Venetian Inquisition with the conscious and cynical feigning of holiness, Cecelia Ferrazzi (1609-1684) requested and obtained the unprecedented opportunity to defend herself through a presentation of her life story. Ferrazzi's unique inquisitorial autobiography and the transcripts of her preceding testimony, expertly transcribed and eloquently translated into English, allow us to enter an unfamiliar sector of the past and hear 'another voice'—that of a humble Venetian woman who had extraordinary experiences and exhibited exceptional courage.
Born in 1609 into an artisan family, Cecilia Ferrazzi wanted to become a nun. When her parents' death in the plague of 1630 made it financially impossible for her to enter the convent, she refused to marry and as a single laywoman set out in pursuit of holiness. Eventually she improvised a vocation: running houses of refuge for "girls in danger," young women at risk of being lured into prostitution.
Ferrazzi's frequent visions persuaded her, as well as some clerics and acquaintances among the Venetian elite, that she was on the right track. The socially valuable service she was providing enhanced this impresssion. Not everyone, however, was convinced that she was a genuine favorite of God. In 1664 she was denounced to the Inquisition.
The Inquisition convicted Ferrazzi of the pretense of sanctity. Yet her autobiographical act permits us to see in vivid detail both the opportunities and the obstacles presented to seventeenth-century women.
In late sixteenth-century Venice, nearly 60 percent of all patrician women joined convents, and only a minority of these women did so voluntarily. In trying to explain why unprecedented numbers of patrician women did not marry, historians have claimed that dowries became too expensive. However, Jutta Gisela Sperling debunks this myth and argues that the rise of forced vocations happened within the context of aristocratic culture and society.
Sperling explains how women were not allowed to marry beneath their social status while men could, especially if their brides were wealthy. Faced with a shortage of suitable partners, patrician women were forced to offer themselves as "a gift not only to God, but to their fatherland," as Patriarch Giovanni Tiepolo told the Senate of Venice in 1619. Noting the declining birth rate among patrician women, Sperling explores the paradox of a marriage system that preserved the nobility at the price of its physical extinction. And on a more individual level, she tells the fascinating stories of these women. Some became scholars or advocates of women's rights, some took lovers, and others escaped only to survive as servants, prostitutes, or thieves.
In this book, Muir explores an era of cultural innovation that promoted free inquiry in the face of philosophical and theological orthodoxy, advocated libertine morals, critiqued the tyranny of aristocratic fathers over their daughters, and expanded the theatrical potential of grand opera. In so doing, he reveals the distinguished past of today's culture wars, including debates about the place of women in society, the clash between science and faith, and the power of the arts to stir emotions.
Margaret King shows what the death of a little boy named Valerio Marcello over five hundred years ago can tell us about his time.
This child, scion of a family of power and privilege at Venice's time of greatness, left his father in a state of despair so profound and so public that it occasioned an outpouring of consoling letters, orations, treatises, and poems. In these documents, we find a firsthand account, richly colored by humanist conventions and expectations, of the life of the fifteenth-century boy, the passionate devotion of his father, the feelings of his brothers and sisters, the striking absence of his mother. The father's story is here as well: the career of a Venetian nobleman and scholar, patron and soldier, a participant in Venice's struggle for dominion in the north of Italy.
Through these sources also King traces the cultural trends that made Marcello's century famous. Her work enlarges our view of the literature of consolation, which had a distinctive tradition in Venice, and shifting attitudes toward death from the late Middle Ages onward.
For the depth and acuity of its insights into political, cultural, and private life in fifteenth-century Venice, this book will be essential reading for students of the Renaissance. For the grace and drama of its storytelling, it will be savored by anyone who wishes to look into life and death in a palace, and a city, long ago.
Sarah Gwyneth Ross Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress CB361.R67 2016 | Dewey Decimal 940.21
Revealing an Italian Renaissance beyond Michelangelo and the Medici, Sarah Gwyneth Ross recovers the experiences of everyday people who were inspired to pursue humanistic learning. Physicians were often the most avid professionals seeking to earn the respect of their betters, advance their families, and secure honorable remembrance after death.
It is a winter morning in Venice, in 1622. Muted voices drift through a thin wall next door. Her curiosity aroused, a young woman peers through a crack in the door, only to witness a strange and disturbing sight: a woman and a priest secretly celebrating communion. Troubled by what she sees, she reports the incident at confession. Her revelation leads to the arrest, jailing, and arraignment of the two for heresy before the Venetian Holy Office of the Inquisition.
So begins Fulvio Tomizza's absorbing account of the true story of Maria Janis, a devout peasant woman from the mountains north of Bergamo. Too poor to enter a convent, Maria had set out to serve God by relinquishing the little she had, through renunciation of all food but the bread and wine of communion. Encouraged by the restless village priest Pietro Morali, Maria claimed to have existed in this sanctified state for five years. During this time, she, Morali, and the weaver Pietro Palazzi travel from a little village in the Alps to Rome and then to Venice, where their alleged sacrilege is discovered and they are brought to trial. Both revered as a saint and reviled as a fraud, Maria with her "privilege" inspires and threatens believers within the Church. Combining the historian's precision with the novelist's imagination, Tomizza painstakingly reconstructs her story, crafting a fascinating portrait of sublimated love, ambition, and jealousy.
Heavenly Supper alternates a chronological account of the trial with analyses of each protagonist's life history. Along the way, Tomizza gives voice to the minds and hearts of his characters, allowing them to speak for themselves in their own words. The world he recreates resonates with the fervor of the Counter Reformation when faith and its consequences were rigidly controlled by the Church. As suspenseful as a detective novel, Tomizza's story goes beyond the trial to evoke a panoramic view of seventeenth-century Italian culture.
The Venetian courtesan has long captured the imagination as a female symbol of sexual license, elegance, beauty, and unruliness. What then to make of the cortigiana onesta—the honest courtesan who recast virtue as intellectual integrity and offered wit and refinement in return for patronage and a place in public life? Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was such a woman, a writer and citizen of Venice, whose published poems and familiar letters offer rich testimony to the complexity of the honest courtesan's position.
Margaret F. Rosenthal draws a compelling portrait of Veronica Franco in her cultural social, and economic world. Rosenthal reveals in Franco's writing a passionate support of defenseless women, strong convictions about inequality, and, in the eroticized language of her epistolary verses, the seductive political nature of all poetic contests. It is Veronica Franco's insight into the power conflicts between men and women—and her awareness of the threat she posed to her male contemporaries—that makes her literary works and her dealings with Venetian intellectuals so pertinent today.
Combining the resources of biography, history, literary theory, and cultural criticism, this sophisticated interdisciplinary work presents an eloquent and often moving account of one woman's life as an act of self-creation and as a complex response to social forces and cultural conditions.
"A book . . . pleasurably redolent of Venice in the 16th-century. Rosenthal gives a vivid sense of a world of salons and coteries, of intricate networks of family and patronage, and of literary exchanges both intellectual and erotic."—Helen Hackett, Times Higher Education Supplement
The Honest Courtesan is the basis for the film Dangerous Beauty (1998) directed by Marshall Herskovitz. (The film was re-titled The Honest Courtesan for release in the UK and Europe in 1999.)
These works by Sister Bartolomea Riccoboni offer an intimate portrait of the women who inhabited the Venetian convent of Corpus Domini, where they shared a religious life bounded physically by the convent wall and organized temporally by the rhythms of work and worship. At the same time, they show how this cloistered community vibrated with news of the great ecclesiastical events of the day, such as the Great Western Schism and the Council of Constance.
While the chronicle recounts the history of the nuns' collective life, the necrology provides highly individualized biographies of nearly fifty women who died in the convent between 1395 and 1436. We follow the fascinating stories that led these women, from adolescent girls to elderly widows, to join the convent; and we learn of their cultural backgrounds and intellectual accomplishments, their ascetic practices and mystical visions, their charity and devotion to each other and their fortitude in the face of illness and death.
The personal and social meaning of religious devotion comes alive in these texts, the first of their kind to be translated into English.
Piazza San Marco
Iain Fenlon, Iain Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress NA9072.V45F46 2009
The Piazza San Marco, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable townscapes in the West, if not the world, has been described as a stage set, as Europe's drawing room, as a painter's canvas. This book traces the changing shape and function of the piazza, from its beginnings in the ninth century to its present day ubiquity in the Venetian, European, as well as global imagination.
To Forget Venice
Peg Boyers University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3602.O94T6 2014 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
To Forget Venice is the improbable challenge and the title of Peg Boyers’s newest collection of poems. The site of several unforgettable years of her adolescence, the place she has returned to more frequently than any other, the city of Venice is both adored and reviled by the speakers in this varied and unconventionally polyphonic work. The voices we hear in these poems belong not only to characters like the mother of Tadzio (think Death in Venice), or the companion of Vladimir Ilych Lenin, or the Victorian prophet John Ruskin and his wife, Effie, but also to wall moss, and sand, and—most especially—an authorial speaker who in 1965, at age thirteen, landed in Venice and never quite recovered from the formative experiences that shaped her there. Ranging over several stages of a life that features adolescent heartbreak and betrayal, marriage and children, friendship and loss, the book insistently addresses the author’s desire to get to the bottom of her obsession with a place that has imprinted itself so profoundly on her consciousness.
William H. McNeill University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress DG675.6.M23 | Dewey Decimal 945.31
In this magisterial history, National Book Award winner William H. McNeill chronicles the interactions and disputes between Latin Christians and the Orthodox communities of eastern Europe during the period 1081–1797. Concentrating on Venice as the hinge of European history in the late medieval and early modern period, McNeill explores the technological, economic, and political bases of Venetian power and wealth, and the city’s unique status at the frontier between the papal and Orthodox Christian worlds. He pays particular attention to Venetian influence upon southeastern Europe, and from such an angle of vision, the familiar pattern of European history changes shape.
“No other historian would have been capable of writing a book as direct, as well-informed and as little weighed down by purple prose as this one. Or as impartial. McNeill has succeeded admirably.”—Fernand Braudel, Times Literary Supplement
“The book is serious, interesting, occasionally compelling, and always suggestive.”—Stanley Chojnacki, American Historical Review
Venice from the Ground Up
James H MCGREGOR Harvard University Press, 2006 Library of Congress DG674.2.M44 2006 | Dewey Decimal 945.31
Venice came to life on mudflats at the edge of the habitable world. Protected in a tidal estuary from invaders and Byzantine overlords, the fishermen and traders who settled there crafted a way of life unlike anything the Roman Empire had ever known. In an astonishing feat of narrative history, James H. S. McGregor recreates this world, with its waterways rather than roads and its livelihood harvested from the sea. The narrative follows both a chronological and geographical organization, so that readers can trace the city's evolution by chapter and visitors can explore it by district on foot and by boat.
For the past generation, most historical work on the Italian Renaissance has been devoted to the ways in which city states such as Venice transformed their captured territories into a regional state during the fifteenth century. The territorial state approach de-emphasizes the persistence of communal politics and the communal identities of the subject cities of the new territorial states. Bowd’s study is an important corrective to this argument. Based on extensive archival research in Brescia and Venice, Venice’s Most Loyal City explores the creation of a civic identity based on local politics, religion, and ritual. Communal identity flourished in Brescia in ways that reveal the strength of local autonomy and the limits of state building in the triumphal age for Venice. It is especially sophisticated in the analysis of the treatment of Brescia’s Jews and alleged witches. By employing the most recent methods of historical analysis derived from ritual and religious studies, Bowd manages to return to an older conception of Renaissance Italy that has been eclipsed in recent years.
In this ambitious and imaginative study, Margaretta M. Lovell analyzes the large body of accomplished, sometimes startling, often brilliant work of American artists drawn to Venice's ragged splendor in the last century. Including major works by such diverse and talented painters as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Maurice Prendergast, these richly varied paintings portray sleepy canals, architectural monuments, and scenes of picturesque everyday life while they also reveal surprising aspects of American culture.