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The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity: Contributions to the Cultural History of the European Renaissance


  • Aby Warburg
    Introduction by Kurt W. Forster
    Translation by David Britt

    Aby Warburg—bibliophile, scholar, library founder—has become known as one of the most original and brilliant art historians of this century. Born in 1866 as the eldest son of a leading family of bankers, he purportedly turned his birthright over to younger brother Max in favor of committing some of the family's vast financial resources to scholarship, assembling a library that later formed the nucleus of the Warburg Institute in London.

    In 1932 Warburg's collected works—all of his essays published during his lifetime along with manuscript notes in his working copies—were published in German in two volumes. This new translation marks the first time these seminal volumes have been made available in their entirety in English.

    As an art historian, Warburg looked beyond iconography to more psychological aspects of artistic creation: the conditions under which the art was practiced, its social and cultural contexts, and its conceivable historical meaning. In particular, he often contemplated the meaning of the reuse of antique motifs and the imitation of antique institutions in art, particularly during the Italian Renaissance. He eventually defined a unique parallel relationship: the contemporary Northern European's attraction to the Italian Renaissance was to him much like the fascination that antiquity held for painters and other artists during the Italian Renaissance.

    Kurt W. Forster is the director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and was the founding director of the Getty Research Institute. David Britt has translated numerous catalogs and books, including Friedrich Gilly: Essays on Architecture, 1796–1799 and The Genius of Architecture: or, The Analogy of That Art with Our Sensations by Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières.

    "Warburg's achievement…should now reclaim its position as central to our understanding of the aims and the methods of art history."
    —New Republic

    "Of extraordinary value to scholars of Renaissance art."
    —Library Journal

    "With its richness of cross-reference and documentation, this handsome book is an essential addition to any scholarly library, and one that will be treasured by individual purchasers."

    "Finally allow[s] English speakers to read for themselves the complex, cantankerous, minutiae-driven scholarship."
    —Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "The fascinating details and complexity of Warburg's life are masterful recreated."
    —CAA Reviews

    "This is in many respects an exceptional event."

    "David Britt's fluent and scholarly translation is a most welcome addition to the literature of art in English."
    —Art Libraries Journal

    868 pages
    7 x 10 inches
    233 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-0-89235-537-1

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Research Institute
    Series: Texts & Documents


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