The Likeness of Venice: A Life of Doge Francesco Foscari, 1373-1457
Yale University Press, December 2007
Immortalized in later centuries in works by Lord Byron, Giuseppe Verdi, Eugène Delacroix, and others, Francesco Foscari reigned as the powerful doge of Venice during tumultuous years from 1423 to 1457. The stuff of legends, his life was marked by political conflict, vengeful enemies, family heartbreak, and, at the end, the forced relinquishment of the ducal throne. Yet Foscari left behind no personal papers, and until now, no complete biography of him has been written. This book, a thorough and fascinating biography, fills that longstanding gap, illuminating not only the life of the man but also the history and culture of fifteenth-century Venice.
Dennis Romano, professor emeritus of history, reconstructs Foscari’s life through careful reading of extant governmental records and chronicle sources. He also uses architectural monuments built by Foscari and his heirs as critical interpretive keys for unlocking the personality and policies of the doge. Romano analyzes how art and power intersected in Renaissance Italy and how the doge came to represent and even embody the state.
With this biography, Romano clears away longstanding myths, fills in previously unknown details about Foscari’s triumphs and ordeals, and allows to emerge the first intimate portrait of this singular doge.