Dept of History of Art | News | Academic awarded prestigious prize for his book on Renaissance architecture
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Academic awarded prestigious prize for his book on Renaissance architecture

Peter Fane-Saunders of the Department of History of Art has been awarded the highly prestigious Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize, which is awarded annually by the Renaissance Society of America for the best book in Renaissance studies. His book is entitled Pliny the Elder and the Emergence of Renaissance Architecture (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

The committee's citation reads:

"Peter Fane-Saunders masters a formidable and important topic with sophistication, erudition, and engaging prose. In offering the first comprehensive analysis of the Italian Renaissance reception of Pliny the Elder's writing on architecture, his book fills a significant gap in our understanding of early modern architecture. It makes a major contribution to our conception of the transmission of ideas from ancient Rome into the European architectural tradition by arguing how Pliny's multifaceted influence was second to only one other ancient author, Vitruvius (who, in contrast to Pliny, has been the focus of many studies). This expansive project required in-depth engagement with the work of varied antiquarians, humanists, architects, architectural theorists, and book illustrators across 200 years, such as Flavio Biondo, Ciriaco d'Ancona, Leon Battista Alberti, Filarete, Pomponio Leto, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Sebastiano Serlio, the creators of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the circle of Raphael, Cesare Cesariano, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Daniele Barbaro, and Palladio. Contending with each of these was often a substantial project in its own right, and the book develops its arguments about them independently and heterogeneously, and also as part of a coherent whole. Fane-Saunders's work displays the highest standards of scholarship in drawing upon architectural drawings, archival sources, manuscripts, and early printed books in order to assess Pliny's written record, how he interpreted Greek ideas, how his text evolved through manuscript redactions and print editions, and, finally, how all that was interpreted in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This careful analysis is presented in a manner that is rigorous, while smoothly readable."

Dr Fane-Saunders teaches on the BA History of Art and MA History of Art programmes.

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