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The Endless Periphery

Toward a Geopolitics of Art in Lorenzo Lotto’s Italy

While the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance are usually associated with Italy’s historical seats of power, some of the era’s most characteristic works are to be found in places other than Florence, Rome, and Venice. They are the product of the diversity of regions and cultures that makes up the country. In Endless Periphery, Stephen J. Campbell examines a range of iconic works in order to unlock a rich series of local references in Renaissance art that include regional rulers, patron saints, and miracles, demonstrating, for example, that the works of Titian spoke to beholders differently in Naples, Brescia, or Milan than in his native Venice. More than a series of regional microhistories, Endless Periphery tracks the geographic mobility of Italian Renaissance art and artists, revealing a series of exchanges between artists and their patrons, as well as the power dynamics that fueled these exchanges. A counter history of one of the greatest epochs of art production, this richly illustrated book will bring new insight to our understanding of classic works of Italian art.

352 pages | 127 color plates, 45 halftones | 8 1/2 x 10 | © 2020

Louise Smith Bross Lecture Series

Art: Art--General Studies, European Art

History: European History


"Campbell is keen to construct a Renaissance without the biases towards the central Italian cities of Florence and Rome that characterise the work of Giorgio Vasari, an endeavour that consumes much of the first chapter. From the outset, he engages with problems of artistic mobility, encapsulated in the vexed vocabulary of ‘diffusion’ and ‘exchange’; ‘appropriation’ and ‘resistance.'"

Scott Nethersole | Apollo

"Art by both relatively well-known (Titian, Lotto) and less-known (Moretto, Romanino, Ferrari) artists, who worked in or otherwise created paintings for locations such as Genoa, Siena, and Ferrara in the 1500s, is given consideration in this beautifully illustrated volume. . . . Campbell situates these oftentimes extremely original creations in their religious and geographic contexts, and at the same time pays close attention to visual qualities. Taking an erudite, counterhistorical approach, and arguing for a 'more geographically inclusive historical paradigm,' Campbell makes an important contribution to art history. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended"


"With Lorenzo Lotto's quest for commissions outside the centres of Venice, Florence and Rome as his starting point, Campbell explores Renaissance painting and networks of patronage in the regions of Italy."

Apollo "Off the Shelf"

"[The Endless Periphery] provides much food for thought for anyone interested in the debate about the relativity of artistic style and, as any good book should, opens new questions."

Sixteenth Century Journal

"Timely analysis. . . . the breadth and depth of [Campbell's] expertise are not easily duplicated. . ."

The Art Bulletin

“In recent years no scholar has done more than Stephen Campbell to illuminate crucial aspects of Italian Renaissance art. Even so, his brilliant new book, The Endless Periphery, dramatically stakes out new territory, offering a detailed, comprehensive, culturally sensitive, and visually acute reading of Italian painting in the age of Lotto, Moretto, Gaudenzio Ferrari, and Titian (the order of names is significant)—one that overthrows prevailing ideas about the very nature of sixteenth-century Italian art as it has come down to us at the hands of a Vasari-influenced art history.”

Michael Fried, J. R. Herbert Boone Emeritus Professor of Humanities and the History of Art

The Endless Periphery provides a startlingly new view of the central decades of the Italian Renaissance. With deep erudition and an acute eye for detail, Stephen Campbell pries the Renaissance out of the stranglehold of Giorgio Vasari’s Florentine chauvinism, which has defined the hierarchies of traditional art history since he first published his Lives of the Artists in 1550. Setting aside old assumptions about where great art can be created, Campbell invites us to see a rich landscape of artistic production in which astute artists of tremendous talent forged complex dialogues and conceptual geographies, responding to one another across the peninsula, from Sicily to Rome to Rimini to Bergamo—and many stops in between.”

Rebecca Zorach, author of Gold: Nature and Culture

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
John A. Bross

1 Off the Axis: The Renaissance without Vasari
Working with—and without—Vasari’s Lives
Court Centers as World Cities
What Was Italy?
Models for Renaissance Cultural Geography: Dialect Pluralism versus Literary Canons

2 Place, Event, and the Geopolitics of Art
Place in Relational Geography
Place as Event and Performance in an Altarpiece by Lorenzo Lotto
Regionalism and Its Discontents

3 The View from Messina: Lombards, Sicilians, and the Modern Manner
The Questione Meridionale in the History of Art
A Southern Renaissance without Vasari
Cesare da Sesto: Raffaelesco or Anti-Raphael?
Polidoro da Caravaggio’s Radical Late Style

4 Distant Cities: Lorenzo Lotto and Gaudenzio Ferrari
Lorenzo Lotto: An Artist “Out of Place”
Lotto and Gaudenzio: Parallel Careers
From Varallo to Loreto: Landscapes of Pilgrimage
Holding Rome at a Distance: Lotto’s Loreto Network
Excursus: The Meaning of Style
Coercive Geometry
Moti: Emotional Dynamics
Gaudenzio as City Artist

5 Brescia and Bergamo, 1520–50: Sacred Naturalism and the Place of the Eucharist
Eucharistic Heterotopias in Lombardy: Romanino at Pisogne
Moretto and the “Materiality” of Style

6 Against Titian
Artists “Off the Axis”: The Campi, the Carracci, and the Legacy of Correggio
The Afterlife of Titian in Milan
The 1540s: Titian as “Italian” Artist
Ludovico Dolce and the Invention of Venetian Painting
The Placelessness of Titian’s Late Style

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