Harry Berger's <i>Sprezzatura</i> and the Poses of Cicero's <i>De Oratore</i>

Nina Levine and David Lee Miller

in A Touch More Rare

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230303
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241071 | DOI:
Harry Berger's Sprezzatura and the Poses of Cicero's De Oratore

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In reading Fictions of the Pose, what stood out starkly and unexpectedly was Harry's linkage of the perceptible attitudes of Renaissance and specifically Italian portrait subjects with the sprezzatura of Baldassare Castiglione's Il libro del cortegiano, the perceived assurance of the cinquecento aristocrat whose particular affiliation with time and place Castiglione emphasizes when he highlights sprezzatura's introduction as una nuova parola. Castiglione's own unambiguous admission is such unlearned grace belongs only to those upon whom it has descended from the stars. The diversion of attention from statuary posing to cultural posing led the author to Harry's pendant book, Absence of Grace. In an analogous manner, it is difficult to generalize Roman ideas concerning the interrelation of visual representation and inwardness or interiority, since the very notion of physiognomic legibility shifts and dodges with currents of political change.

Keywords: Renaissance portrait; sprezzatura; Baldassare Castiglione; posing; visual representation; political change

Chapter.  5434 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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