Peter Mack: Michael Baxandall, Novelist and Art Historian: 'A Grasp of Kaspar' and 'The Limewood Sculptors'

Evening lecture

When he left Cambridge, the great art historian Michael Baxandall (1933-2008) had the ambition to become a novelist. He planned to allow himself ten years to acquire the necessary experience of life and to test his vocation as a writer, supporting himself through this process by teaching and research. As we know, things turned out differently. But Baxandall did write a novel, 'A Grasp of Kaspar', which was published posthumously in 2010. In this lecture I am going to consider first how 'A Grasp of Kaspar' is like Baxandall's art history, and specifically how it is like his masterpiece, 'The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany', and second what the novel enables him to give us which his art historical writing could not convey.

Peter Mack is Director of the Warburg Institute, Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition, University of London and Professor of English, University of Warwick.

His books include: Renaissance Argument: Valla and Agricola in the Traditions of Rhetoric and Dialectic (1993), Elizabethan Rhetoric (2002), Reading and Rhetoric in Montaigne and Shakespeare (2010) and A History of Renaissance Rhetoric 1380-1620 (2011)

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