Book Reviews

Reviews of art, art history, architectural history and garden history books. If you would like to review a book or suggest a book to be reviewed please contact Katrina Grant webmaster@melbourneartnetwork.com.au We prefer you submit a proposal before writing/submitting the full review.

Review | Katherine Wentworth Rinne, ‘The Waters of Rome: Aqueducts, Fountains, and the Birth of the Baroque City’. Reviewed by John Weretka

waters of rome

Katherine Wentworth Rinne, ‘The Waters of Rome: Aqueducts, Fountains, and the Birth of the Baroque City’, 2010 John Weretka Katherine Wentworth Rinne, The Waters of Rome: Aqueducts, Fountains, and the Birth of the Baroque City, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-3000-15530-3) Katherine Wentworth Rinne’s recent book on the fountains of Rome is premised on a simple but, as it turns out, pressing question: how much do we really know about the fountains of Rome? Since her work, the answer must surely now be ‘considerably more’ but, as her work has clearly demonstrated, these most familiar of public monuments, peppered throughout the city, have remained ill understood in their topographic and urbanistic contexts. The fruit of the author’s four-month-long…

Review | Franco Mormando, ‘Bernini: His Life and His Rome’. Reviewed by John Weretka

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Franco Mormando, Bernini: His Life and His Rome, 2011 John Weretka Franco Mormando, Bernini: His Life and His Rome, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011 (ISBN-13 978-0-226-53852-2). Surprising as it may be, in a world awash with biographies of his somewhat older contemporary, Caravaggio, Bernini has all too frequently been overlooked in the traditional life-and-works genre. After filling the better part of half a century with a torrent of works in almost all media and for almost all occasions, the employee of a succession of popes and a leading figure in shaping the look of Rome during its seventeenth-century Golden Age, Bernini passed into eternity almost unnoticed: as Franco Mormando notes, we know reasonably little about the artist’s death and funeral exequies from contemporary…

Review | Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists by David R. Marshall

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Thoughts on Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists David R. Marshall Alain de Botton’s new book is of interest because it directly addresses an issue important for atheistic art historians: if religion is bad, why was the art it produced so good? The usual answer is either (a) that religion is irrelevant to what really matters in such art—it embodies the individuals that created it, rather than the institutions that sponsored it— or (b) it is all a matter of history and so the question is beside the point. The first answer makes particular sense to those whose personal experience is that good things come about in spite of institutions, not because of them. De Botton takes the opposite tack:…