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8 May 2018 /

Cambridge University Press author awarded prestigious Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize

The Renaissance Society of America (RSA) has awarded its prestigious Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize to Peter Fane-Saunders for his book Pliny the Elder and the Emergence of Renaissance Architecture, published by Cambridge University Press.

The Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize is presented annually to the author of the best book in Renaissance studies (1300-1700), in recognition of significant accomplishments in the field.

The RSA committee said: ‘Peter Fane-Saunders masters a formidable and important topic with sophistication, erudition, and engaging prose. In offering the first comprehensive analysis of the Italian Renaissance reception of Pliny the Elder's writing on architecture, his book fills a significant gap in our understanding of early modern architecture. It makes a major contribution to our conception of the transmission of ideas from ancient Rome into the European architectural tradition.’

The Naturalis historia by Pliny the Elder provided Renaissance scholars, artists and architects with details of ancient architectural practice and long-lost architectural wonders – material that was often unavailable elsewhere in classical literature. Pliny's descriptions frequently included the dimensions of these buildings, as well as details of their unusual construction materials and ornament.

Beatrice Rehl, Publisher of Archaeology, Art History, and Religious Studies at Cambridge University Press said: ‘We are delighted that the work of Peter Fane-Saunders has been recognised by the RSA through this award. We are proud to publish his insightful and engaging work on Pliny the Elder’.

This book describes, for the first time, how the passages were interpreted from around 1430 to 1580, that is, from Alberti to Palladio. Chapters are arranged chronologically within three interrelated sections – antiquarianism; architectural writings; drawings and built monuments – thereby making it possible for the reader to follow the changing attitudes to Pliny over the period. The resulting study establishes the Naturalis historia as the single most important literary source after Vitruvius's De architectura


Notes for editors

About the Author

Peter Fane-Saunders received his BA in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute; MPhil in History and Theory of Architecture from the University of Bath, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering; and doctorate from the Warburg Institute, London. He was a Rome Fellow at the British School at Rome; visiting scholar at the Istituto Svizzero di Roma; recipient of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation annual grant for research into Venetian history and culture; and Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Durham. He has lectured at Durham and Birkbeck, University of London.

For an author interview or more information please contact Ella Fornari at Cambridge University Press:

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