Citazione bibliografica

Anna Gialdini, "Alla greca"? Matter and meanings of Greek-style bookbindings in Renaissance Venice

  • Abstract
    This thesis is an analysis of the structures, the making, and the uses and meanings of so-called “alla greca” bindings, or Greek-style bindings made in Renaissance Europe. It takes Venice as a case study to re-examine wider historical phenomena such as the reception of Greek antiquity and of the Byzantine legacy in the West after the fall of Byzantium (1453), cultural contact across the Mediterranean, and the use of material culture for self-fashioning purposes. By so doing, it uncovers the social and cultural narratives that led to the imitation and appropriation of the materiality of Greek books in Renaissance Venice and Europe. The thesis is partly based on a census of the over 1000 known surviving Greek-style bindings made in Europe. Of these, over 300 have been examined in person, as have primary sources on their production and consumption. Through the analysis of both, I look at how book collectors articulated their antiquarianism through different collecting practices. Drawing on recent trends in historical studies, and namely the “material turn” and an increased attention for bookbinding structures in book history, I provide an outline of the evolution of Greek-style bookbinding techniques from the 1450s to the end of the sixteenth century and discuss their reception through material evidence, documentary, and visual sources. I then consider how Venetian bookbinders worked, what agency they had, and how they interacted with customers and booksellers. Through the analysis of five case studies, all involving Greek-style bookbindings made in the Republic of Venice for a range of diverse patrons, I re-examine how these books were collected not just by scholars, but by individuals of different backgrounds and professional profiles who benefited from an association with Greek culture. Finally, I expand my analysis to establish how the commissioning and collecting of Greek-style fit into the political climate of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, with a focus on the Venetian patriciate and French monarchs.