Classical Cultural History and the Periodization of the Renaissance: Ruskin and Burckhardt
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Classical cultural history first emerged in England and Germany in the mid-nineteenth century. Before this time, the Renaissance was assigned value according to the conventions of the discourses and sources in which it was considered: writings on art history, taste, and collecting; travel writings, novels, and poems; political and cultural histories and biographies; philosophical, theological, and moral treatises; even art exhibitions and a general fascination with Italy. As Ferguson reminds us, until the late nineteenth century in England, most of these discourses were not considered academic, professional, or disciplinary in the sense we have today, and often the most influential intellectual texts were also the most popular. In classical cultural history, these varied discourses congealed such that the Italian Renaissance was standardized as a unified period embodying definite political, cultural, and historical characteristics. John Ruskin first established the Italian Renaissance as such a period in England, and Jacob Burckhardt did the same in Germany. Both responded to and were interested in the increasing international market for Italian art as well as the state of their national culture.
KeywordsNational Culture Classical Tradition Christian Ethic National Gallery Modern Painter
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