Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The Legacy of the "Natural History."

Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The Legacy of the "Natural History." Yale Univ. 2013. 464p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300186031. $75. FINE ARTS
Pliny the Elder, who died witnessing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, wrote his influential Natural History about "nature, that is, everything." His descriptions of people were used to create characters in the lunette at Vézelay Abbey in the early 12th century and to illuminate Marco Polo's travel writings in the 15th century, and both Petrarch and Vasari referred to Pliny's statement that sculpture and painting are "one art" because of their basis in drawing. Once the Natural History was translated into Italian vernacular and became available cheaply around 1500, however, its readership increased exponentially. McHam (art history, Rutgers Univ.) chronicles how the book informed Renaissance artists, theorists, and patrons about culture and life in antiquity and influenced their work. Lavishly illustrated with 120 color and 105 black-and-white images, this title shows off McHam's encyclopedic knowledge of the arts and sciences of antiquity and the Renaissance yet is easy to understand. Appendixes include Renaissance literary references to Pliny, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
VERDICT Those familiar with Renaissance art will get the most out of this volume.
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