Nineteenth-century Bostonians were profoundly interested in Renaissance Florence. As travel to and around Europe increased, growing numbers of Boston artists and travelers visited the city. They looked for the Florentine monuments described in Dante’s Divine Comedy—newly translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—and the landscapes painted by Botticelli. They formed a distinct community and, whether they remained for years of simply passed through, Bostonians brought home from Florence souvenirs that influenced the development of American cultural institutions for years to come.
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, professor of art, Wellesley College