Pietro Bembo and the Intellectual Pleasures of a Renaissance Writer and Art Collector


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Susan Nalezyty

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One of the most influential scholars of the Renaissance, Pietro Bembo (1470–1547) gained fame not only for his literary theory and poetry, but for his incredible collection of art and antiquities. Drawing on anecdotes from Bembo’s letters and unpublished archival material, Susan Nalezyty analyzes how Bembo’s collection functioned as a source of inspiration for artists like Titian and writers like Giovanni della Casa. As visitors to the collection marveled at the quality and variety of the displayed objects, Bembo encouraged investigations into the ways in which contemporary art compared with ancient objects. Often straddling the line between the visual and literary worlds, these critical discussions catalyzed artistic experiments that led to new modes of creative expression. This generously illustrated volume brings Bembo’s collection to life and reveals its key role in the development of Renaissance artistic philosophy and historical study of the classical past.   

Susan Nalezyty is the Archivist for the collection of historic artifacts and documents at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, and she also lectures on the history of art at Georgetown University. 

“Nalezyty offers an innovative exploration of the collection and the collecting of Bembo in the first four decades of the 16th century.”—Choice

‘Nalezyty’s analyses and many illustrations conjure a private museum which […] greatly enhances our understanding of Renaissance taste and collecting practice.’ — Sarah Blake McHam, Art Newspaper

"Godere delle opere d’arte, discuterne con gli amici, trarne spunto per la scrittura, interagire con gli artisti: è un mondo che questo libro ci aiuta a ricostruire."— Lina Bolzoni, Il Sole 24 Ore

"An accessible and beautifully-illustrated celebration of Renaissance material culture" – Martin T. Dinter, Journal of Roman Studies

"[This book] provides a much needed, comprehensive study of an important Renaissance collection of antique and modern art and artifacts" – Joyce de Vries, Renaissance Quarterly

"This book . . . adds an important study to current scholarship in artistic exchange and trends in early modernity that led to the modern concept of the museum. . . . Nalezyty's writing style and frequent references to unique stories and correspondences found in Bembo's letters and journals make the book a fun and provocative read useful for historians of literature and art alike."—Rebecca M. Howard, Sixteenth Century Journal

Winner of the Outstanding Academic Title for 2018 award sponsored by Choice
ISBN: 9780300219197
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
288 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
40 color + 80 b/w illus.