Picture of author.

Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897)

Author of The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

121+ Works 4,447 Members 27 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

Jacob Burckhardt was born in Basel, Switzerland on May 25, 1818. He received a degree in theology in 1839 and then attended the University of Berlin to study history. He taught at the University of Basel from 1843 to 1855, then at ETH, the engineering school in Zurich. In 1858, he returned to Basel show more to assume the professorship he held until his 1893 retirement. He was a historian of art and culture, and is considered one of the founding fathers of art history and one of the original creators of cultural history. His first book, Die Kunstwerke der belgischen Städte, was published in 1842. His best known works are The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy and The History of the Renaissance in Italy. His other works include The Age of Constantine the Great, Judgments on History and Historians, and The Greeks and Greek Civilization. He died on August 8, 1897. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Photograph (1892); original in possession of the Universitätsbliothek Basel.


Works by Jacob Burckhardt

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (0018) 2,489 copies, 17 reviews
The Age of Constantine the Great (1852) 373 copies, 2 reviews
Reflections on History (1905) 216 copies, 2 reviews
Judgments on History and Historians (1958) 139 copies, 1 review
History of Greek Culture (1940) 112 copies, 1 review
Recollections of Rubens (1898) 63 copies
Der Cicerone (1938) 41 copies
The State as a Work of Art (2010) 41 copies
The Altarpiece in Renaissance Italy (1988) 24 copies, 1 review
Sullo studio della storia (1998) 8 copies
Die Historische Größe. (1947) 3 copies
Rembrandt (2020) 2 copies
E Hämpfeli Lieder (2016) 1 copy

Associated Works

Art History and Its Methods: A Critical Anthology (1995) — Contributor — 242 copies, 2 reviews
The Philosophy of History in Our Time (1959) — Contributor — 220 copies, 1 review


Common Knowledge



I found this hard sledding most of the time. A layered look of the different elements that contributed to the Renaissance in Florence and elsewhere in Italy. Like describing a beautiful painting in prose, while factually true, it is probably better to just look at it. On the other Mr. Burckhardt gives a comprehensive look at Italy is this era. A period of tremendous discord and violence and also beauty.
charlie68 | 16 other reviews | Nov 16, 2019 |
Absolutely fascinating account of one of those 'hinge' moments in history when the old (pagan) era is giving way to the new (Christian) era.
SJH8 | 1 other review | Feb 4, 2019 |
Burckhardt, in this massive tome, gives an overview of the major political, societal, and religious themes that occurred during the Renaissance. He starts off with the State as a work of out, then moves into a more individualistic perspective, and closes with the influence of (pagan) antiquity and morality. He clearly wants to cover all important aspects of Italian society during this time period, but his writing style prevents him from completing this task successfully. He shifts and flits around from subject to subject, never spending too much time on any one, which makes it intensely hard to follow while reading, even while within the same chapter. The book almost seems to have been written in a "stream-of-consciousness" format.

The other big issue, although one it's not really fair to criticize Burckhardt for, is that the book is FULL of biases, and they show through very easily. He never really touches upon the fall of Constantinople which was the impetus for the true flowering of the Renaissance, and he's very skeptical of the contributions of the Arabs to the renaissance. However, he was writing in the mid-19th century, so his point of view is understandable in historical context

Overall, not a great book about the Renaissance, but certainly an impressive one. I'd like to read more in depth about each of the things he touches on, with more background, but for an overview, it isn't awful.
… (more)
1 vote
L_Will | 16 other reviews | May 14, 2018 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Domenico Valbusa Translator
Lizzie Tynell Translator
Ludovico Gatto Introduction
Titia Jelgersma Translator
Moses Hadas Translator
Ernst Hohl Foreword
Franz Kugler Illustrator
Sheila Stern Translator
Rudolf Marx Afterword
M. D. Hottinger Translator
Joachim Fest Afterword
Gottfried Dietze Introduction
Alf Ahlberg Translator
Alexander Dru Translator, Editor
Horst Gerson Introduction
W. Bode Afterword
Anne Weber Translator


Also by

Charts & Graphs