chapter  8
5 Pages

The Study of Renaissance Italy: The I Tatti Program and the Biblioteca Berenson

WithJulian Kliemann

In 1959, the critic and connoisseur Bernard Berenson died at the age of 93, leaving his home of 60 years and its contents to Harvard University. It was a magnificent gift – a library of 50,000 volumes; a breadth of scholarly periodicals; an archive of annotated photographs of Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings; collections of Orientalia and of Florentine, Venetian, Sienese, and Umbrian paintings; and the house itself: a 16th-century villa surrounded by 75 acres of garden, farmland, and farm buildings below the hills of Fiesole and Settignano, just outside Florence. With the gift went Berenson’s hope that his alma mater would use it as a center for Renaissance study, where young scholars from all over the world might meet while pursuing independent study of the Italian Renaissance.