• Patrick Hart deposited Nuremberg and the Topographies of Expectation on Humanities Commons 3 months ago

    [Opening paragraph:] The history of the history of Renaissance art is and will remain a messy affair. Diverse narratives compete for audiences and authority. Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of Famous Artists, published in 1550 and re-issued in an expanded edition in 1568, provided a methodological model that prevailed for centuries. His accounts weave biographical anecdotes and observations about specific works into a broader historical fabric, one in which art and certain artists ascend over time toward ever greater perfection. Subsequent Northern European biographers of artists, notably Karel van Mander (1604) and Joachim von Sandrart (1675), adopted Vasari’s monographic approach for their own highly influential histories. In contrast with these celebrations of the individual master, civic artistic identity is a topic only rarely written about substantively before the nineteenth century. When and how did certain cities consciously cultivate their reputations as prominent artistic centres during the early modern era? Beyond obvious economic self-interest, some towns valued their artistic prestige. In the case of Nuremberg, like many German cities, local awareness came gradually and was articulated rather haphazardly in images and texts. Nuremberg’s artistic fame during the Renaissance has proved enduring, indeed mythic, even centuries later.