With this blog, we have collected textual accounts of the Camposanto’s origin, history and artistic decoration up to the end of the eighteenth century. For a comprehensive understanding, it is important to note that these sources belong to different genres with specific purposes and audiences: the earliest texts are to be found in accounts of Pisan history, most of them by local writers for a local audience. In a few cases, these texts continued to be produced throughout the eighteenth century. Yet the bulk of descriptions from the late medieval and early modern period come from travelers who visited Pisa as pilgrims headed in the direction of the Holy Land, or from tourists making a trip through Italy. These two groups were both typically writing for a home audience. Therefore, pilgrimage and travel accounts give us the best impression of the Camposanto’s international fame. As a source of information for foreigners, local experts also authored guidebooks that addressed visitors of all kinds. Finally, we must look at early modern literature concerning artists to find the most detailed discussions of the artworks housed in the Camposanto. Collections of artists’ lives such as Vasari’s Viteand similar works were written for an audience of connoisseurs in Italy and beyond.
Excerpts from fifty-two different sources that refer to the Camposanto have been compiled in this blog; these are accompanied by introductory commentaries. PDF files of the original books (or, sometimes, later editions) containing these sources can be consulted as well. “Camposanto in Pisa” provides a comprehensive view of the historical, architectural and art historical aspects of the Camposanto. In the “Timeline” section, all sources as well as key dates of the Camposanto are given in chronological order. Under “Literary Sources,” readers can browse through and filter the texts by language, period or genre.
This blog is a collaborative work. The project was initiated and led by Professor David Ganz at the University of Zurich. He is responsible for the introductory essays in “Camposanto in Pisa,” and other commentaries, including that for Vasari’s Vite. Dahi Jung set up the blog and wrote introductions to the English and French sources. Simon Breitenmoser translated the Italian and Latin sources and wrote commentaries for them. Flavia Hächler translated the poem by Michelangelo di Cristofano da Volterra (from Italian into English) and wrote a commentary on this work. Alexandra Cruz Kyburz was responsible for translating the excerpt from El Viaje a Jerusalén by Don Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera from Spanish into English and wrote the accompanying introduction. Beatrice Radden Keefe reviewed the English texts. The original authors of each introductory commentary are marked with their initials in “Literary Sources.”