Venice Illuminated

Power and Painting in Renaissance Manuscripts

Helena Katalin Szépe

View Inside Price: $70.00

May 29, 2018
400 pages, 8 1/2 x 10 5/8
225 color + 25 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300226744

For patricians in the Republic of Venice, paintings in manuscripts marking their appointment to high office expressed a tension between selfless service and individual ambition. Originally of value in confirming and instructing an elected officer, these unique documents were transformed through art into enduring monuments promoting state ideals, individual status, and family memory. This book introduces the reader to a long-hidden world of beautiful and complex images, and to tales of personal sacrifice, political maneuvering, and family intrigue. Analysis of these small paintings within books opens up new perspectives on canonical works by such artists as Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Veronese, as well as on tomb sculptures and public memorials. Extensive original material on artistic patronage in Venice and its territories abroad encourages an expanded understanding of art in the service of the state and of Venice as empire. 

Helena Katalin Szépe is associate professor of art history in the School of Art and Art History at the University of South Florida, Tampa.

“This beautiful book presents a class of paintings not created for manuscripts of biblical or other texts, but instead produced as independent documents when patricians were commissioned as high officials of the Venetian state.”—Choice

“In this heavily illustrated, scholarly documented and eminently readable volume, the author introduces the reader to a long-hidden world of beautiful and complex images and to tales of personal sacrifice, political maneuvering and family intrigue.”—Antiques and the Arts Weekly

“Provides an extensive analysis of the small paintings within manuscripts, with particular attention to the history and culture of art patronage in Venice. For collectors in this area, this heavily illustrated book is indispensable.”—Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books & Collections

Winner of The 2019 Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Best Book Prize in Renaissance Venetian Studies, sponsored by the Renaissance Society of America


Recipient of the 2019 Helen & Howard R. Marraro Prize, sponsored by the American Historical Association