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Botticelli (and Dante) Reborn: The Race to Define the Renaissance in 19th-Century Europe

Botticelli portrait
Thursday, September 26, 2019
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Joseph Luzzi, Bard College

The focus of Professor Luzzi's talk will be on how the rediscovery of Sandro Botticelli's art in general, and his recently discovered Dante drawings in particular, contributed to the race to define "the Renaissance" in 19th-century Europe. Attention will be paid to how Vasari's critical reading of Botticelli helped banish him-and his Dante project-to oblivion for centuries. Luzzi will discuss the place of Botticelli and Dante in the pioneering work of Renaissance historians ranging from Jacob Burckhard to Jules Michelet, and he will also show how Walter Pater's landmark Studies of the Renaissance from 1873-along with the work of fellow Oxford professor John Ruskin-helped rediscover and rehabilitate the long-forgotten Botticelli (and his drawings of Dante).

Joseph Luzzi is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College and was recently a Wallace Fellow at Harvard's Villa I Tatti, where he was writing a cultural history of Dante's Divine Comedy that will appear with Princeton University Press. He is the author of Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy (Yale University Press, 2008); A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014); and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me about Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins, 2015).