Leon Battista Alberti: The Chameleon’s Eye (Renaissance Lives ) (Hardcover)

Leon Battista Alberti: The Chameleon’s Eye (Renaissance Lives ) By Caspar Pearson Cover Image
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A new account of the sui generis Renaissance writer and architect Leon Battista Alberti.
One of the most brilliant and original authors and architects of the entire Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti had an output encompassing engineering, surveying, cryptography, poetry, humor, political commentary, and more. He employed irony, satire, and playful allusion in his written works, and developed a sophisticated approach to architecture that combined the ancient and modern. Born into the Florentine elite, Alberti was nonetheless disadvantaged due to exile and illegitimacy. As a result, he became an acute analyst of the social institutions of his time, as well as a profoundly existential writer who was intensely preoccupied with the human condition.

This new account explores Alberti’s life and works, examining how his personal and intellectual preoccupations continually pushed him to engage with an ever-broader spectrum of Renaissance culture.

About the Author

Caspar Pearson is a senior lecturer in art history at the Warburg Institute. He is the author of Humanism and the Urban World: Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance City.

Praise For…

"This splendid biography of Leon Battista Alberti, beautifully produced, with a rich selection of well-placed and well-reproduced illustrations, vividly portrays one of the most complex and fascinating figures in a complex and fascinating time, one whose preoccupations are entirely relevant today."
— Arts Fuse

"This is an engaging, lucidly written review of Alberti (1404–72), a prominent, fascinating, productive, and influential Renaissance figure. . . . An important
resource for those interested in architecture, culture, and history."
— Choice

"Pearson’s book is the best English introduction to Leon Battista Alberti. The volume is more than just a biography: it engages solidly with the literary and technical works of this prolific writer, and takes account of key ideas put forward by scholars in the recent Alberti revival. . . . Enhanced by a generous number of high-quality illustrations, not all of them predictable, Leon Battista Alberti: The Chameleon’s Eye is succinct, admirably clear, and often witty, all qualities of which Alberti himself would have approved."
— Martin McLaughlin, professor emeritus of Italian, University of Oxford

"This is a book born out of passion: the lively passion for one of the most preeminent and yet most elusive minds of the Italian Renaissance. Pearson’s new biography of Leon Battista Alberti strikes the reader as meticulously detailed and comprehensive, while remaining, page after page, refreshingly witty, agile, and appealing. The kaleidoscopic worlds of the most versatile of Italian humanists—the most provocative and controversial one in his unabashed modernity—are wrought together dynamically. Alberti is neither the solar, jovial, and sanguine architect popularized by Jacob Burckhardt, nor the selenic, saturnine , and melancholic humanist depicted by Eugenio Garin: Pearson resists the temptation of coming up with yet another unavailing formula to grasp Alberti’s polygonal literary persona. His beautifully illustrated book is a tour de force: a masterpiece of synthesis that illuminates Alberti’s life and works with the brilliance and clarity of a prose that combines scholarly depth and sophistication with reader-friendliness."
— Stefano Cracolici, professor of Italian art and literature, Durham University

Product Details
ISBN: 9781789145212
ISBN-10: 178914521X
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: August 4th, 2022
Pages: 304
Series: Renaissance Lives