What is better than a good book to welcome the New Year? We look back at some English-language titles on Italian subjects from 2015, and forward to what’s in store for 2016. Books purchased through the links below will return a percentage as a donation to the IAS at no extra cost to you.

Books authored or edited by 2015 members of the Italian Art Society include:

The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming Public Space by Gregor Kalas (University of Texas Press)

The first comprehensive examination of the Roman Forum in late antiquity, this book explores the cultural significance of restoring monuments and statues in the city’s preeminent public space, demonstrating shifts in patronage, political power, historical associations, and aesthetics.

Artistic Practices and Cultural Transfer in Early Modern Italy: Essays in Honour of Deborah Howard by Nebahat Avcioglu and Allison Sherman (Ashgate)

Showcasing both the diversity within and the porosity between the ‘center’ and ‘periphery’ in Renaissance art, this volume explores the material mechanisms for the transmission and evolution of ideas, artistic training and networks, as well as the dynamics of collaboration and exchange between artists, theorists and patrons.

Faith, Gender and the Senses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art: Interpreting the Noli Me Tangere and Doubting Thomas by Erin E. Benay and Lisa M. Rafanelli (Ashgate)

Taking the ‘Noli me tangere’ and ‘Doubting Thomas’ episodes as a focal point, this study examines how visual representations of two of the most compelling and related Christian stories engaged with changing devotional and cultural ideals in Renaissance and Baroque Italy.

Making and Moving Sculpture in Early Modern Italy edited by Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio (Ashgate)

This volume brings together some of the top scholars in the field, to investigate how sculptors in early modern Italy confronted such challenges as procurement of materials, their costs, shipping and transportation issues, and technical problems of materials, along with the meanings of the usage, hierarchies of materials, and processes of material acquisition and production. 

The Mapping of Power in Renaissance Italy: Painted Cartographic Cycles in Social and Intellectual Context by Mark Rosen (Cambridge University Press)

How did maps of the distant reaches of the world communicate to the public in an era when exploration of those territories was still ongoing and knowledge about them remained incomplete? And why did Renaissance rulers frequently commission large-scale painted maps of those territories when they knew that they would soon be proven obsolete by newer, more accurate information? The Mapping of Power in Renaissance Italy addresses these questions by bridging the disciplines of art history and the histories of science, cartography, and geography.

The Ethics of Ornament in Early Modern Naples: Fashioning the Certosa di San Martino by J. Nicholas Napoli (Ashgate)

This is the first English-language survey of a key Neapolitan monument, the Certosa di San Martino. From 1580s to1757, a series of decorative campaigns transformed the monastery’s church into a jewel of marble revetment, painting, and sculpture. As explored by Nicholas Napoli, the aesthetics of the church generate a jarring moral conflict: few religious orders honored the ideals of poverty and simplicity so ardently yet decorated so sumptuously.

Classical Myths in Italian Renaissance Painting by Luba Freedman (Cambridge University Press)

This book retraces the development of classical imagery in the visual arts of the Italian Renaissance, examining the contemporary desire to depict classical myths in the style and spirit of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and to re-create the artistic patronage of the ancient Romans.

Federico Barocci and the Oratorians: Corporate Patronage and Style in the Counter-Reformation by Ian F. Verstegen (Truman State University Press)

In 1586, Federico Barocci delivered his Visitation of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth to the Chiesa Nuova in Rome. For the next quarter century, Barocci dominated the art scene in Rome, despite living exclusively in Urbino. Why did the Oratorians (a congregations of secular priests) monopolize Barocci’s talents in Rome, and why does it seem that Barocci was their first choice when considering artists to decorate their church? While explaining Oratorian patronage, it thus deals with a thorny question in social science: how can a collective body have unified intentions and actions?

Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence edited by Gretchen A. Hirschauer and Dennis Geronimus (Lund Humphries)

The catalog of the first major retrospective of the Quattrocento painter Piero di Cosimo, held at the National Gallery in Washington, DC from February to May 2015. It contains eight essays and expansive catalog entries.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral edited by Timothy Verdon et al. (Giles in association with The Museum of Biblical Art)

This thoroughly illustrated volume, which accompanied an exhibition hosted by the Museum of Biblical Art, examines twenty-three  major artworks that were produced to decorate Sta. Maria del Fiore in Florence, better known to visitors as the Duomo, or cathedral, in the first decades of the 1400s.

In a New Light: Giovanni Bellini’s ‘St. Francis in the Desert’ by Susannah Rutherglen and Charlotte Hale (Giles in association with The Frick Collection)

Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desertis a masterpiece of Venetian Renaissance art that has inspired generations of visitors to The Frick Collection. For centuries, viewers have puzzled over the work’s meaning—seeking explanations in a variety of pictorial and textual sources. Until recently, however, the artist’s practical conception and realization of this extraordinary vision have remained largely unexplored. In a New Light presents the collective findings of an unprecedented technical examination of St. Francis in the Desert

Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action by Julian Brooks with Denise Allen and Xavier F. Salomon (Getty Publications)

This volume was published to accompany the exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from June to September 2015, and at the Frick Collection until 10 January 2016. It explores the oeuvre of the great Renaissance artist Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530), who rivals Leonardo da Vinci as one of history’s most accomplished draftsmen. 

Old Women and Art in the Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior by Erin J. Campbell (Ashgate)

Drawing on a wide range of visual and historical sources, this study examines the remarkable flowering, largely overlooked in portraiture scholarship, of portraits of old women in Northern Italy and especially Bologna during the second half of the sixteenth century. 

Michael Baxandall, Vision and the Work of Words edited by Peter Mack and Robert Williams (Ashgate)

This volume provides a comprehensive assessment of the influential and, at times, controversial work of Michael Baxandall, described by some scholars as ‘the most important art historian of his generation’ (1933-2007). 

From Giotto to Botticelli: The Artistic Patronage of the Humiliati in Florence by Julia I. Miller and Laurie Taylor-Mitchell (Penn State University Press)

This book focuses on the artistic patronage of the Humiliati, a religious order infamous for its attempt to assassinate Saint Carlo Borromeo and ultimately suppressed, by papal bull, in 1571. It considers the major works by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Botticelli, and Ghirlandaio that the Humiliati commissioned for the Church of the Ognissanti in Florence. 

Visual Cultures of Foundling Care in Renaissance Italy. Visual Culture in Early Modernity by Diana Bullen Presciutti (Ashgate)

The social problem of infant abandonment captured the public’s imagination in Italy during the fifteenth century, a critical period of innovation and development in charitable discourses. Focusing on four institutions in central Italy that possess significant surviving visual and archival material, Visual Cultures of Foundling Care in Renaissance Italy examines the discursive processes through which foundling care was identified, conceptualized, and promoted. 

Other books on our wishlist for 2016:

Anthony F. D’Elia, Pagan Virtue in a Christian World: Sigismondo Malatesta and the Italian Renaissance (Harward University Press, January 2016)

Amy R. Bloch, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise: 
Humanism, History, and Artistic Philosophy in the Italian Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, March 2016)

A new volume from the “Artistic Centers of the Italian Renaissance” series:  Naples, edited by Marcia B. Hall and Thomas Willette (Cambridge University Press, May 2016)

Let us know about your favorite new titles on Italian Art from prehistory to the present, and we will feature them on IASblog!

Posted by Costanza Beltrami

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