A Pleasure Grove of Italian Renaissance Art

By Parker, Deborah | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

A Pleasure Grove of Italian Renaissance Art


Parker, Deborah, The Virginia Quarterly Review


Encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art. Edited by Jane Turner. Two vols. MacMillan Reference Limited. $400.

Connoisseurs of one of the most glorious periods of Western culture can now avail themselves of an authoritative and comprehensive guide. These two volumes present in more accessible and affordable form material initially included in the Grove Library of World Art (European Art series), itself an offshoot of the award-winning 34-volume Dictionary of Art. The spin-off volumes, however, offer much to entice readers: revised and updated entries by the specialists who authored the original entries; rewritten biographies on many artists; re-edited articles on cities and towns in which the art of this period flourished; and increased illustrations, roughly 200 additional color illustrations alone. Together the two volumes contain 1722 entries and 1108 illustrations covering all the major artistic achievements in Italy from c. 1400 to c. 1600.

Readers will not be disappointed with the wealth of material covered. Entries on individual artists are logically arranged to include information on his or her life and works; working methods and techniques, writings (if any), character and personality, and critical reception and posthumous reception. An extensive bibliography on each artist follows; in the case of major figures such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, or Titian, helpful subject headings (i.e. Documentary and Bibliographical Sources; General; Specialist Studies; Monographs; and Catalogues; Drawings) within the bibliographies direct readers to areas of related scholarship. Cross-references within the entries direct readers to other relevant entries.

In addition to the entries on specific artists, the volume also contains entries on important patrons of art such as the Medici, Della Rovere, Este, and Gonzaga families, collectors and writers (e.g. Petrarch and Marsilio Ficino), as well as articles on art forms (e.g. cartoon, cassone), building types, Italian cities with important Renaissance traditions, decorative art forms, and specialized terms (e.g. disegno e colore, paragone). The editors and advisors have done an outstanding job in selecting specialists for the entries. To name but some of the experts who have contributed to the volumes: Robert Hughes and Caroline Elam co-authored the entry on Michelangelo; Charles Dempsey wrote the entry on Botticelli; Janet Cox-Rearick the ones on Bronzino and Pontormo; and Julian Kliemann the one on Vasari. All these scholars have written extensively on the figures whose achievements they have distilled. Richly informative, many of the entries are calculated either to inspire further reading within the encyclopedia or a desire to revisit the works themselves. …

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