Lecture series

Caspar Pearson:
Alberti in Florence: Painting and the Machinery of the State

Part of the Lecture Series Alberti Revisited: Art – Ethics – Politics
Organized by Hana Gründler, Katharine Stahlbuhk, and Giulia Baldelli

In the mid-1430s, Leon Battista Alberti produced two crucially important texts: the Della famiglia and the De pictura. This paper explores some aspects of these works, paying particular attention to the ways in which they overlap with each other. In doing so, it considers how Alberti might be understood to have brought a pictorial or perspectival form of thinking to bear upon his discussions of the family and the city. It also examines his ambivalent attitude towards the great buildings of Florence, which he perhaps understood on the one hand as exemplary centres of meaning, and on the other hand as troubling manifestations of the power of a state that he fundamentally mistrusted.

Caspar Pearson is Senior Lecturer in Art History at the Warburg Institute. His work focuses on the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as historiography and the afterlives of the Renaissance in later periods. He is particularly interested in images and writings regarding cities, in the relationship between representation and place, and in Renaissance theories of architecture and urbanism. Much of his work relates to the writer and architect Leon Battista Alberti. His first book, Humanism and the Urban World: Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance City, was published by Penn State University Press in 2011. His new biography of Alberti, Leon Battista Alberti: The Chameleon’s Eye, was published in May 2022 by Reaktion Books.


This talk is part of the lecture series »Alberti Revisited: Art – Ethics – Politics« organized by Hana Gründler, Katharine Stahlbuhk, and Giulia Baldelli

Against the backdrop of the 550th anniversary of Leon Battista Alberti's death and the publication of the first German edition of and commentary on his dialogue Della tranquillità dell'animo in April 2022 the lecture series Alberti Revisited will focus on the artistic, ethico-aesthetic, linguistic and socio-political implications of his oeuvre. Thus, the intertextual and interdisciplinary complexity of Alberti's thought as well as his relationship with the cultural dynamics of his time will be examined from a variety of perspectives and, not least, Alberti's topicality will be critically analysed. The invited speakers come from the fields of art and architectural history, history, philology, and philosophy.

12 July 2022, 6:00pm

This event will take place in a hybrid format.

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze, Italia

To participate in person please email ellena.stelzer@khi.fi.it to reserve a seat.

To participate online please register in advance via Zoom:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


This event will be documented photographically and/or recorded on video. Please let us know if you do not agree with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz using images in which you might be recognizable for event documentation and public relation purposes (e.g. social media).


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