Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna
Renaissance Woman is a powerful new biography of perhaps the most remarkable woman of the Italian Renaissance: Vittoria Colonna, Marchesa of Pescara. Vittoria has long been celebrated by scholars of Michelangelo as the artist’s best friend―the two of them exchanged beautiful letters, poems, and works of art that bear witness to their intimacy―but she also had close ties to Charles V, Pope Clement VII and Pope Paul III, Pietro Bembo, Baldassare Castiglione, Pietro Aretino, Queen Marguerite de Navarre, Reginald Pole, and Isabella d’Este, among others. Vittoria was the scion of an immensely powerful family in Rome during that city’s most explosively creative era.
Art and literature flourished, but political and religious life were under terrific strain. Personally involved with nearly every major development of this period―through both her marriage and her own talents―Vittoria was not only a critical political actor and negotiator but also the first woman to publish a book of poems in Italy, an event that launched a revolution for Italian women’s writing. Vittoria was, in short, at the very heart of what we celebrate when we think about sixteenth-century Italy; through her story the Renaissance comes to life anew.
Ramie Targoff is professor of English, Co-Chair of Italian Studies, and the Jehuda Reinharz Director of the Mandel Center for the Humanities, at Brandeis University. She is the author of Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion; John Donne, Body and Soul; Posthumous Love: Eros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England; and most recently, Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna, which came out in April, 2018 from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. She lives with her husband and son in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Vittoria Colonna’s work remains some of the most popular amongst sixteenth century Italian female poets. Involved in the intellectual circle of Italian renaissance artists, Colonna is remembered for her insightful poetry and illustrious letters. Check out her poems and biographical information in Vitorria Colonna: her life and poems.
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