Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Director for Harvard's Villa I Tatti Renaissance Center

Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman announced last month that Lino Pertile will become director of the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy, beginning next summer.

Pertile will succeed Joseph Connors, professor of history of art and architecture and I Tatti’s sixth director, who has run the center since 2002. After a sabbatical year, Connors will resume teaching, concentrating on Harvard College courses in Italian art.

Pertile said of the announcement: “In the 50 years since Bernard Berenson left it to Harvard, Villa I Tatti has had a unique role in the fostering of Renaissance studies, and I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to join this remarkable institution. I look forward with great enthusiasm to carrying on the outstanding work of Joe Connors and the previous directors.”

“I am delighted that Lino has accepted the directorship of Villa I Tatti,” said Hyman. “His academic stature, deep knowledge of the Villa, of Italy more broadly, and experience in creating an inclusive scholarly community all make him ideally suited to take the reins of the center and burnish its status as a global leader in Renaissance studies.” He continued, “I look forward to working with Lino in strengthening the ties between Harvard and I Tatti, and developing the center in the years to come.”

Pertile, the Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is a renowned scholar on Italian literature, with a particular focus on the medieval and Renaissance periods. He has taught numerous courses at Harvard College, including, since 1998, the popular “Dante’s Divine Comedy and Its World.”

Pertile’s commitment to undergraduate teaching and advising earned him the award of Harvard College Professor in 2005. Since 2000, Pertile has served as master of Eliot House along with his wife, Anna Bensted. Pertile and Bensted are widely credited with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere at Eliot.

Connors said of the announcement: “Lino’s distinguished career as a scholar of Dante and Petrarch — spanning the Italian and Anglo-Saxon worlds of learning — is the true embodiment of what Villa I Tatti is all about, and I couldn’t be more pleased with his appointment. The future of I Tatti under Lino’s leadership looks very bright indeed.”

Connors took over I Tatti after serving as chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. From 1988 to 1992 he served as director of the American Academy in Rome.

“Joseph Connors leaves a superb foundation on which Lino Pertile will continue to build,” said Hyman. “Joe’s model stewardship has transformed the Villa — academically and physically — and he leaves behind a robust center of which Harvard can be proud. We are deeply grateful for his leadership.”

Villa I Tatti was founded in 1961 around the house and library of the art critic and connoisseur Bernard Berenson (Class of 1887). It covers 75 acres near Florence, employs a staff of 50, and consists of a fellowship program in Renaissance studies and the Biblioteca Berenson, a research library with distinguished collections in art history, history, literature, and early music, as well as an extensive photographic collection. I Tatti is also known for its historic garden and working farm, and a notable collection of early Italian and Asian art.