An exploration of ways of looking in Renaissance Florence, where works of art were part of a complex process of social exchange
Renaissance Florence, of endless fascination for the beauty of its art and architecture, is no less intriguing for its dynamic political, economic, and social life. In this book Patricia Lee Rubin crosses the boundaries of all these areas to arrive at an original and comprehensive view of the place of images in Florentine society. The author asks an array of questions: Why were works of art made? Who were the artists who made them, and who commissioned them? How did they look, and how were they looked at? She demonstrates that the answers to such questions illuminate the contexts in which works of art were created, and how they were valued and viewed. Rubin seeks out the meeting places of meaning in churches, in palaces, in piazzas-places of exchange where identities were taken on and transformed, often with the mediation of images. She concentrates on questions of vision and visuality, on "seeing and being seen." With a blend of exceptional illustrations; close analyses of sacred and secular paintings by artists including Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Filippino Lippi, and Botticelli; and wide-ranging bibliographic essays, the book shines new light on fifteenth-century Florence, a special place that made beauty one of its defining features.
Patricia Lee Rubin is professor, deputy director, and head of the Research Forum, Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She is co-author (with Alison Wright) of Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s and author of Giorgio Vasari: Art and History, both published by Yale University Press.