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I love archives…

June 13, 2013

Today I finally made the trip to I Tatti.

Last autumn, just after completing and sending off an article to a publisher, I ran across a reference to 15 letters in the Berenson archive that seemed promising.  Today the promise paid off but more on that anon

We arrived in Florence yesterday around noon after a series of flights through Newark and Brussels.  Family managed to power-through the day and though we went to sleep at a  decent hour it was still 11 before I managed to drag myself out of bed, get dressed, and wander downstairs to find a pastry and a cappucio before heading off to the mother-ship.

Caught a cab in Piazza Santa Croce, and I’m awfully glad I did because a) it’s hot here  and b) I’ve never been terribly good with public transport in Italy.   Wasn’t a straight shot as the nice lady cab driver and I got side tracked by the Villino I Tatti.  Arrived at I Tatti just before noon and had the place virtually to myself.  A nice receptionist located a librarian who found the appropriate file that had been left for me.  I pulled out the trusty first generation iPad and my bluetooth keyboard and got to work.

There is a story Erwin Panofsky told about himself that I am fond of paraphrasing and it goes something like this: when he was born the fairies that brought good looks, wealth, and wisdom weren’t able to attend his christening but the fairy that did show up was the one that gifted him with the ability to open a book to whatever passage he needed.

Well folks that  is the kind of day I had today.  Twelve of the letters were interesting but of no real use to me but three of the letters, oh joy oh bliss, three of the letters provided if not exactly what I was looking for something that was pretty darn close.  I may not have the smoking gun but I’ve got the gun and a bunch of smoke not too far away from the gun and for two hours work on a sunny day in June that’s good enough for me.   (Plus a bonus letter from Bernard Berenson in one of the files had a delightful comment about Panofsky.   I just love it when larger than life heroes from the history of art history weigh in upon one another).

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