Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

History of Art

First Advisor

Renata Holod

Abstract

This dissertation examines a number of aspects of the history of the Venetian villa. In particular, it documents Andrea Navagero's influence on the nature of villeggiatura in the sixteenth-century Veneto. Although the initial impetus for this study was the evaluation of Navagero's descriptions of Islamic Spanish gardens and their influence on the Renaissance garden, aspects of his work, letters, and villas have forced a further reevaluation of Venetian villa life and its sources. Among the more significant results of my research on their impact are: a recasting of the early modern Venetian approach to the past, a recognition of a scientific component in villa agriculture, a discussion of the importance of a rustic vocabulary for certain villas, a transmission of the ideal of learned farming to provincial nobles, and a subsequent exercise of villa ideology in the service of the Counter-Reformation in Verona. The powerful image Navagero created of a fruitful and refreshing Moorish landscape did, indeed, reinforce the importance of water within the garden. More importantly, his firm belief that a profusion of ideas about gardens and agriculture offered by these and other sources could be integrated by him and his colleagues into the tradition of villa patronage.

In his letters from Spain, Navagero praised the “Moors” gardens and their scientific approach to agriculture. Similarly, while there, Navagero received and recounted news of discoveries in the Americas and carried home to Venice exotic specimens and wonderful tales of the New World. His receptive attitude indicates that Venetian intellectuals were increasingly willing to expand the realm of authorities, mainly the autori antichi, beyond its traditional classical boundaries. In the case of his villas, Navagero's interest in the historical world beyond Greece and Rome supported his transformation of the villa garden into a locus for learned farming. Navagero's adept synthesis of this expanded antique with villa culture and the development of the Venetian mainland influenced not only his immediate circle of friends, but also the titled nobility of the province of Verona and a number of bishops of Verona.

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