Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture

ISBN 10: 0300054424 / ISBN 13: 9780300054422
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Synopsis: The Vatican Library contains the richest collection of western manuscripts and early printed books in the world, and its holdings have both reflected and helped to shape the intellectual development of Europe. One of the central institutions of Italian Renaissance culture, it has served since its origin in the mid-15th century as a centre of research for topics as diverse as the early history of the city of Rome and the structure of the universe. This book, which contains over 200 colour illustrations, introduces the reader to the Vatican Library and examines in particular its development during the Renaissance. Distinguished scholars discuss the Library's holdings and the historical circumstances of its growth, presenting a fascinating cast of characters - popes, artists, collectors, scholars, and scientists - who influenced how the Library evolved. The authors examine subjects ranging from Renaissance humanism to Church relations with China and the Islamic world to the status of medicine and the life sciences in antiquity and during the Renaissance. Their essays are supported by maps, books, prints and other examples of the Library's collection, including the Palatine Virgil (a fifth-century manuscript), a letter from King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, and an autographed poem by Petrarch. The book serves as the catalogue for a major exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington that presents a selection of the Vatican Library's magnificent treasures. The exhibition opens in January and the exhibits return to the Vatican at the end of April.

From Library Journal: This impressive catalog of the exhibit currently at the Library of Congress (January-April) portrays the Vatican Library as repository, reflection, patron, and artifact of Roman Renaissance culture. The readable text provides context and explication of the library's development. The opening essays present an enlightening survey of the Vatican's role in supporting humanist scholarship, while later articles explore Vatican collections in the sciences, medicine, music, and Asian studies. All the essays are heavily illustrated with images of the exhibited treasures. However, the typeface is too small, and a concise chronology of the library's history is needed. Despite these minor flaws, this book is highly recommended for informed readers.
- Elizabeth Brice, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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