Clark Art Institute presents lecture on Renaissance Margin Images

September 12, 2019
Williamstown, Massachusetts—On Wednesday, September 25, at 6:00 pm, Anthony Grafton, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University, presents the lecture “Images in the Margins: Renaissance Readers Draw the Meanings of their Texts.” Grafton’s free talk is presented by the Clark Art Institute’s Research and Academic Program and will be held in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center.

Grafton explores the margin notes found in Renaissance texts and discusses their meaning and relevance. During this period, educated readers went through their texts pen-in-hand, underlining passages, adding references to names and short summaries in the margins, and interpreting or responding to the text. Most marginalia were written notes and comments but scholars—from Petrarch in the fourteenth century to John Dee in the sixteenth—also made drawings of many kinds in the margins of their books. Grafton’s lecture presents some of their work and argues that it often, though not always, had an interpretative purpose.

Grafton is a specialist in the cultural history of Renaissance Europe, the history of books and readers, the history of scholarship and education in the West from antiquity to the nineteenth century, and the history of science from antiquity to the Renaissance. Grafton likes to see the past through the eyes of influential and original writers and has accordingly written intellectual biographies of  fifteenth-century Italian humanist, architect, and town planner, Leon Battista Alberti; sixteenth-century Italian astrologer and man of medicine, Girolamo Cardano; and sixteenth-century French classicist and historian, Joseph Scaliger. He also studies the long-term history of scholarly practices, such as forgery and the citation of sources, and has worked on many other topics in cultural and intellectual history.
The next Research and Academic Program lecture is Mellon Network Fellow Susan Gagliardi’s “Mapping Senufo: Rethinking the Scholarly Monograph in the Era of Digital Publication” on Tuesday, October 1, at 5:30 pm.
The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 275,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm; open daily in July and August. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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