Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 November 2018
From the time of their courtship until death parted them forty years later, Bartolomeo Ammannati (1511-1592) and Laura Battiferra (1523-1589) nurtured a loving relationship with reciprocal support for complementary careers. Their childless union generated two bodies of art, vast and beautiful. Renaissance contemporaries esteemed the Ammannati as a rarity, creative peers in a close marriage, but history has indifferently divorced them, dropping Bartolomeo to the ranks of second best and pushing his accomplished wife into obscurity. Reunited, the couple can return as they deserve, in the entwined lives that enriched their joint corpus and enhanced the fame each won as an individual — she for her poetry, praised by the most prominent men and women of culture in Counter Reformation Italy; he in his dual activity as sculptor and architect for projects ordered by popes in Rome, leaders of the new Society of Jesus, and three generations of Medici rulers in Florence.
This essay, part of a book in progress, was presented in a shorter version at the meeting of the RSA in College Park, Maryland, 1998. I would like to thank James Beck for encouraging me to develop the idea for publication. Rebecca West first pointed my thinking in the direction of “Creative Couples” when she invited me to participate in a session by that title with a paper on Alberto Moravia and Elsa Morante for the annual meeting of the American Association of Teachets of Italian, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1992. Much of the archival work was conducted in 1996 while I was a Visiting Professor at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Villa I Tatti, on a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and sabbatical support from the University of Pennsylvania. For other help, I would like to thank Giulia Calvi, Malcolm Campbell, Philippe Canguilhem, Gino Corti, Fabio Finotti, Sheila ffolliott, Robert Gaston, Paul Gehl, Nicola Gentili, Rab Hatfield, Don Franco Negroni, Armando Petrucci and Franca Petrucci Nardelli, Patricia Rubin, Carlo Vecce, and Georgianna Ziegler. Gracious and patient assistance was provided at the Archivio di Stato, Urbino, by the archivists Leonardo Moretti and Giuseppina Paolucci. The generous readings of James V. Mirollo, Deborah Parker, and Paul F. Grendler, who reviewed the manuscript for Renaissance Quarterly, brought useful further suggestions. The article was revised with new findings drawn from the collection of The Newberry Library, where I was privileged to hold a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Medieval and Early Modern Gender Studies while on sabbatical leave from the University of Pennsylvania, 2000- 2001. All translations are the author's unless otherwise indicated. For citations from sixteenth- century documents and editions, punctuation and spelling have been modetnized in the sonnets but left unchanged in prose quotes and book titles.