|Dimensions||24.5 × 29 cm|
Hardback with jacket
32 in colour and 241 b/w
Leon Battista AlbertiBooks, Studies and Classical
La biblioteca di un umanista
edited by R. Cardini
in collaboration with L. Bertolini and M. Regoliosi
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 8 October 2005-7 Jenuary 2006
Of the books that once belonged to Leon Battista Alberti only few have survived; but the works we know he read and used, together with his own writings, are on display at the Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 8 October 2005-7 January 2006). This attempt at reconstruction is based on a close scrutiny of Alberti’s own “ideology of the book”, particularly of what he wrote on the subjects of books and libraries, the latter described as places which define a community, buildings that “give lustre” to the city, intellectual and moral shrines.
Preliminary to this investigation was – in the words of curator Roberto Cardini – “a systematic and thorough deconstruction” of the humanist’s texts in search of his sources: an approach justified by a famous passage of the Profugiorum ab erumna libri where Alberti compares literary works to mosaics. The result is not, however, a dry list of sources, for every ‘unit’ that was borrowed from other authors must be explained in the light of its new context. It is interesting to observe this procedure at work, for instance, in Alberti’s treatment of a classic topic such as the respective merits of the active and contemplative lives, where he draws extensively from Petrarch’s De vita solitaria but eventually endorses the view that human conversation should not be given up, and that literary and scientific (even architectural) work are not so distant as they might seem.
Lenders include the Marcian Library, the Vatican Library, the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and virtually all major Florentine libraries; amongst the latter, the Laurentian Library stands out for contributing a selection of its beautiful illuminated manuscripts. The first part of the catalogue comprises essays by Paola Benigni, Lucia Bertolini, Andrea Cantile, Roberto Cardini, Stefano G. Casu, Donatella Coppini, Sandro De Maria, Ida Mastrorosa, Michel Paoli, Mariangela Regoliosi, Giovanni Rossi and Caterina Tristano and numerous illustrations of autograph writings by Alberti and manuscripts on display in the exhibition. The second part is divided into three sections: the first deals with documents, the second with Alberti’s own writings, the third with the classical and medieval authors whose works Alberti read and studied.