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Botticelli's Secret

The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance

Joseph Luzzi

$32.95

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English
Norton
04 December 2023
"Some five hundred years ago, Sandro Botticelli, a painter of humble origin, created works of unearthly beauty. A star of Florence's art world, he was commissioned by a member of the city's powerful Medici family to execute a near-impossible project: to illustrate all one hundred cantos of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, the ultimate visual homage to that ""divine"" poet.

This sparked a gripping encounter between poet and artist, between the religious and the secular, between the earthly and the evanescent, recorded in exquisite drawings by Botticelli that now enchant audiences worldwide. Yet after a lifetime of creating masterpieces including Primavera and The Birth of Venus, Botticelli declined into poverty and obscurity. His Dante project remained unfinished. Then the drawings vanished for over four hundred years. The once famous Botticelli himself was forgotten.

The nineteenth-century rediscovery of Botticelli's Dante drawings brought scholars and art lovers to their knees: this work embodied everything the Renaissance had come to mean. From Botticelli's metaphorical rise from the dead in Victorian England to the emergence of eagle-eyed connoisseurs like Bernard Berenson and Herbert Horne in the early twentieth century, and even the rescue of precious art during World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the posthumous story of Botticelli's Dante drawings is, if anything, even more dramatic than their creation.

A combination of artistic detective story and rich intellectual history, Botticelli's Secret shows not only how the Renaissance came to life, but also how Botticelli's art helped bring it about-and, most important, why we need the Renaissance and all that it stands for today."

By:  
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 211mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   295g
ISBN:   9781324066019
ISBN 10:   1324066016
Pages:   352
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joseph Luzzi is the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature at Bard College and an award-winning writer, teacher, and scholar of Italian culture. He is the author of five books and lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Reviews for Botticelli's Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance

"""A lively book…[Luzzi] brilliantly sets the operatic stage of vibrant, violent Renaissance Florence and brings to life the characters who helped resurrect Botticelli."" -- Max Norman - The Wall Street Journal ""Wide-ranging...[Luzzi] reads Botticelli’s drawings as “a ‘poem’ in their own regard,” and as a crucial link in the “mapping of the human spirit’s transition” from one era to the next."" -- The New Yorker ""The Italian Renaissance has rarely been so brilliantly examined or put before us in such a delectable style. I would recommend Botticelli’s Secret to anyone who loves art, who enjoys good storytelling, and who is interested in how the human spirit rediscovered itself in such a magnificent and dramatic fashion."" -- Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me ""Botticelli’s Secret is sheer delight from beginning to end. Under the guise of tracing a fascinating history, this book finally presents a compelling brief for the lasting importance to all of us, as thinking, feeling people, irrespective of nation"" -- Ingrid Rowland, coauthor of The Collector of Lives ""Brilliantly conceived and executed...a riveting search for buried treasure. Luzzi takes one of the Florentine master’s least familiar works, his cycle of illustrations of Dante’s?Divine Comedy, and, tracing its history along winding passages from the fift"" -- Stephen Greenblatt, author of Tyrant ""A lively book…[Luzzi] brilliantly sets the operatic stage of vibrant, violent Renaissance Florence and brings to life the characters who helped resurrect Botticelli."" -- Max Norman - The Wall Street Journal ""Wide-ranging...[Luzzi] reads Botticelli’s drawings as “a ‘poem’ in their own regard,” and as a crucial link in the “mapping of the human spirit’s transition” from one era to the next."" -- The New Yorker ""The Italian Renaissance has rarely been so brilliantly examined or put before us in such a delectable style. I would recommend Botticelli’s Secret to anyone who loves art, who enjoys good storytelling, and who is interested in how the human spirit rediscovered itself in such a magnificent and dramatic fashion."" -- Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me ""Botticelli’s Secret is sheer delight from beginning to end. Under the guise of tracing a fascinating history, this book finally presents a compelling brief for the lasting importance to all of us, as thinking, feeling people, irrespective of nation"" -- Ingrid Rowland, coauthor of The Collector of Lives ""Brilliantly conceived and executed...a riveting search for buried treasure. Luzzi takes one of the Florentine master’s least familiar works, his cycle of illustrations of Dante’s?Divine Comedy, and, tracing its history along winding passages from the fift"" -- Stephen Greenblatt, author of Tyrant"


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