The Columns

W&L Professor George Bent Discusses His New Book at Library Author Talk Series

— by on March 24th, 2017

“Street corners, guild halls, government offices and confraternity centers contained paintings that made the city of Florence a visual jewel at precisely the time of its emergence as an international cultural leader.”

The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series, at Washington and Lee University, presents George Bent, the Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art at W&L, on April 5 at 5 p.m. in the Book Nook on the main floor of Leyburn Library.

George Bent

He will be discussing his new book, “Public Painting and Visual Culture in Early Republican Florence” (2017). The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

“Street corners, guild halls, government offices and confraternity centers contained paintings that made the city of Florence a visual jewel at precisely the time of its emergence as an international cultural leader,” said Bent. “This book considers the paintings that were made specifically for consideration by lay viewers, as well as the way they could have been interpreted by audiences who approached them with very specific perspectives.

“Their belief in the power of images, their understanding of the persuasiveness of pictures and their acceptance of the utterly vital role that art could play as a propagator of civic, corporate and even individual identity made lay viewers keenly aware of the paintings in their midst,” Bent continued. “Those pictures affirmed the piety of people for whom they were made in an age of social and political upheaval, as the city experimented with an imperfect form of republicanism that often failed to adhere to its declared aspirations.

Bent is the author of “Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco’s Florence: Painting and Patronage in Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1300-1415” (2006); “Early Renaissance Art” (2002); and “Gothic Art” (ed., 2002).

Bent, a member of the W&L faculty since 1993, is a member of College Art Association, Renaissance Society of America, Italian Art Society and International Center of Medieval Art. He earned his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.