Privilege and Duty in the Serene Republic: Illuminated Manuscripts of Renaissance Venice


ACLS Fellowship Program


School of Art and Art History


In Renaissance Venice, certain kinds of civic manuscripts, which were granted to individual patricians upon assumption to some of the highest offices of state, came to have full-page paintings highlighting portraits of the recipients and extravagant bindings. This project examines the role of these illuminated documents in the formulation of patrician status, ideals of service to the state, and family memory. Methods of manuscript studies are integrated with the comparative examination of art in the service of distinctive political regimes, and the study of material culture in memorializing families. This project reframes understanding of painting in Renaissance culture, to show how imagery transformed documents of temporary value into memory objects, which authenticated and preserved individual and family status.