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Brunelleschi's Egg

Nature, Art, and Gender in Renaissance Italy

Mary D. Garrard (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 448 pages
ISBN: 9780520261525
November 2010
$85.00, £71.00
Feminist historians of science and philosophy have shown that during the Italian Renaissance, the profound shift in the concept of nature--from an organic worldview to the scientific--was assisted by the gender metaphor that defined nature as female. In this provocative and groundbreaking book, Mary D. Garrard extends this analysis to the history of art and proposes that the larger shift was both anticipated and mediated by the visual arts. In case studies of such major figures as Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Giorgione, and Titian, Garrard examines the changing relationship of art and nature in the Renaissance, and shows how they were cast by artists and theorists as gendered competitors in a steadily escalating rhetoric.
Mary D. Garrard is Professor Emerita of Art History at American University, Washington, DC. Her landmark works of feminist scholarship include Artemisia Gentileschi around 1622: The Shaping and Reshaping of an Artistic Identity and (coedited with Norma Broude) Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History after Postmodernism, both from UC Press.
“Brunelleschi’s Egg is an immensely stimulating, thought-provoking book that represents a major contribution to Renaissance studies.”—Marilyn Dunn Renaissance Qtly
“Excellent. . . . Mary Garrard’s contributions to art history are considerable. . . . [She] is to be thanked for contributing to the history of science.”—Marjorie Och Woman’s Art Journal
"Garrard, one of a small handful of truly distinguished feminist art historians, presents a detailed and visually convincing account of the relationship between nature and art in all its fraught and gendered cultural meaning from antiquity on. Brunelleschi's Egg constitutes an exemplary feat of interdisciplinary study that requires no specialized theoretical baggage to follow and emulate."—Mieke Bal, author of Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo's Political Art

"Mary Garrard's discerning eye and deep knowledge of Renaissance art informs this fascinating book. She offers a sophisticated exploration of a rich artistic conversation on the relationship of nature and art, describing the central role of gender in structuring artists' complex and changing attitudes toward nature. Brunelleschi's Egg is so much more than a history of style; it maps the changing mindsets of Renaissance society in the several centuries during which scientific developments gradually seized masculine authority, relegating both art and nature to mastered femininity. This book provides new perspective on Italian Renaissance masterworks; it will be central to future discussion of Renaissance art." —Margaret R. Miles, author of A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350–1750

"In this sweeping study, the magnum opus of one of feminist art history's founding mothers, Mary Garrard extends the gendered critique of art into the realms of philosophy and science, psychology and myth. Her eloquently prophetic and richly detailed synthesis chronicles western culture's increasing feminization of nature and art, and its parallel masculinization of the human mind (both male and female), as a Renaissance tragedy on an epic scale. The book is a must-read for historians of the early modern period, with a theme also of urgent contemporary concern."—James M. Saslow, author of Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality and Art

"A completely new and thoroughly convincing way of looking at the major monuments of the Italian Renaissance. The ideas in Brunelleschi's Egg are so compelling that it is hard to imagine a reader who would not be drawn into the analysis."—Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, author of Art, Marriage, and Family in the Italian Renaissance Palace

"Garrard offers an unprecedented perspective on an amazing plethora of seminal works. Written beautifully, Brunelleschi's Egg is nothing but exemplary."—Yael Even, University of Missouri, St. Louis

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