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Raffaello Borghini's Il Riposo

Raffaello Borghini's Il Riposo

Edited and translated with introduction and notes by Lloyd H. Ellis
Raffaello Borghini
  • Book Info
    Raffaello Borghini's Il Riposo
    Book Description:

    Raffaello Borghini'sIl Riposo(1584) is the most widely known Florentine document on the subject of the Counter-Reformation content of religious paintings. Despite its reputation as an art-historical text, this is the first English-language translation ofIl Riposoto be published. A distillation of the art gossip that was a feature of the Medici Grand Ducal court, Borghini's treatise puts forth simple criteria for judging the quality of a work of art.

    Published sixteen years after the second edition of Giorgio Vasari'sVite, the text that set the standard for art-historical writing during the period,Il Riposofocuses on important issues that Vasari avoided, ignored, or was oblivious to. Picking up where Vasari left off, Borghini deals with artists who came after Michaelangelo and provides more comprehensive descriptions of artists who Vasari only touched upon such as Tintoretto, Veronese, Barocci, and the artists of Francesco I's Studiolo. This text is also invaluable as a description of the mid-sixteenth century reaction against the style of the 'maniera,' which stressed the representation of self-consciously convoluted figures in complicated works of art.

    The first art treatise specifically directed toward non-practitioners,Il Riposogives unique insight into the early stages of art history as a discipline, late Renaissance art and theory, and the Counter-Reformation in Italy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8829-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translator’s Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Raffaello Borghini
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-40)

    This is the eighth edition, and first translation, of Raffaello Borghini’sIl Riposo. It is the most widely known Florentine document addressing the conservative iconographic issues raised by the Council of Trent (1545–63). It is also the best known Florentine statement concerning the Italian reaction against the florid style of the HighManiera. Sixteen years after Giorgio Vasari published the second edition of hisVite, Borghini focused on important issues that Vasari had avoided or ignored, or to which he was oblivious.

    Vasari, at the urging of Grand Duke Cosimo I,¹ had proceeded with his usual energy to reform...

  6. Personae
    (pp. 41-42)

    Bernardo Vecchietti, the owner of Il Riposo, initiates and controls the discussion. The others defer to him as their host. Vecchietti discusses Counter-Reformation iconography in Book I and Renaissance art from Cimabue to the early sixteenth century in Book III.

    The historic Bernardo Vecchietti, banker, litterateur, and collector, was Giambologna’s first patron. As an artistic adviser to Francesco, Vecchietti oversaw the project for the equestrian statue of Cosimo in the Piazza della Signoria. Federico Zuccaro thanked Vecchietti for his influence in getting the commission by including Vecchietti’s labelled portrait in Federico’s fresco in the cupola of the Duomo.¹

    Ridolfo Sirigatti,...

  7. Dedicatory Poem
    (pp. 45-46)

    As in sweet shyness the painted face of

    Nature admires the beautiful rare work

    So precious and dear from your hand,

    The Arno longs and hopes and gives itself to you in defeat;

    From this writing, where sculpture and painting

    As the living spirit of art, appears to you,

    All, reading to learn, before working,

    To give life to marble and substance to feigned shadow

    Then manifest as well carved and painted:

    Here and there a new Polyclitus,

    Art with similar guidance erects a canon.

    Certain that in this way superb Flora

    Decorates her facades and streets most beautifully


  8. Book One
    (pp. 47-102)

    Whenever I think carefully (Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lord) about the marvellous works of nature, – so beautiful, varied, and useful – I find them every hour more admirable and more worthy of greater consideration. One gazes at the infinite light of the Sun, the fluctuating brightness of the Moon, the wandering stars, and the octave heaven.¹ There are so many shining resplendent little flames spread over its ultramarine blue. Each narrowly turns in sweet harmony as they run their course. Among them, in their very gentle drift, there is no discord. Who can raise his eyes to these supernal spheres...

  9. Book Two
    (pp. 103-160)

    Many are the virtues, Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lord, [124] that men have who are notable and worthy of praise. But above all the others, I have always esteemed, to be the most worthy of praise, that which moves itself to do things for the benefit of other people. A prince who, with his authority, seeks to govern universally. A wealthy man who supports the needy with his resources. A wise man who comforts the afflicted with faithful consul. A lettered man who instructs the ignorant with the arts and sciences. A plain man who, [125] serving faithfully, lessens...

  10. Book Three
    (pp. 161-222)

    Not all writers, Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lord (even as they strive so that their writings commonly please) obtain universal praise from everyone. Rather, very few are those, even if they have written with great skill, who are not deprecated in great part by many. And if every man who intended to do something waited until he was sure it pleased everyone, it would frequently happen that he would not leave any sign of having travelled through [249] this mortal life. It is almost impossible, while doing everything that is possible to serve and to please, to proceed in...

  11. Book Four
    (pp. 223-320)

    Great judgment induced those learned Greeks, Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lord, to give place to painting among the Liberal Arts. And by public proclamation they forbade slaves and base men from being able to exercise it, perhaps fearing that this very noble art would lose its charm and reputation from unworthy and vile persons putting it into practice. Therefore, very excellent painters flourished in that time because, being noble men, they practised the art nobly and, more for honour and for glory than for recompense, they industriously put study into their works. And [457] philosophers, gentlemen, and emperors did...

  12. Appendix: The Artists Described by Borghini
    (pp. 321-324)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 325-370)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 371-374)
  15. Index
    (pp. 375-384)