'Alla Greca'. A Historical, Cultural, and Historical Analysis of Greek-style Bookbindings in Renaissance Venice
Camberwell College of Arts
My research deals with Greek-style bookbindings in the Veneto in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. It aims at an analysis of their structures from a material perspective, as well as at an interpretation of the cultural, sociological and anthropological dynamics that underpinned the imitation and appropriation of Greek models in bookmaking in Renaissance Venice and Padua.
Greek-style bindings in the Veneto were part of a complex system of meanings and (self)representations that observers can read today by examining material aspects as well as documentary primary sources, and through the lens of a cultural history approach. They were purchased by both Byzantine Greek exiles in Venice, as symbolic of their own culture, and by Venetian elites as a physical representation of scholarship, cultured elegance, and “prestige” – as fashionable goods to be displayed, as well as by Greek orthodox monasteries in Greece and the Middle East.
So far, I have surveyed about 400 Greek-style bindings made in the Veneto and replicating Byzantine techniques, out of a corpus of about 500 Venetian -made Greek-style bindings (and about 900 Western-European-made Greek-style bindings).
I am interested in all phases of the production and consumption of books in the Early Modern Mediterranean, and especially in the material aspects of their circulation.
Dr Filippo De Vivo (Birkbeck)