The RSA received a matching grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to allow us to expand our Paul Oskar Kristeller research grants, and provide a permanent source of funding for them. A significant gift from the Ambrosiana Foundation brought us partway to our goal; a second came from the Delmas Foundation. The rest has come from member support. The Paul Oskar Kristeller fund will continue to grow with your help. You can make a single donation, a recurring monthly donation at your choice, or a fixed sum split into monthly payments. These grants will be at the heart of our expanding program of research support.
Paul Oskar Kristeller stood as a genuine “trait d’union” between Europe and America, both for publications that remain fundamental to this day as well as for his tutelage of generations of scholars. Kristeller received his doctorate in Berlin in 1929 with a dissertation on Plotinus, and then moved to Heidelberg to work with Martin Heidegger, under whose guidance he prepared his Habilitationsschrift on the thought of Marsilio Ficino. Forced to abandon Germany in 1935 with the ascension to power of Nazism, he spent some important years in Pisa before emigrating to the United States in 1939, after the promulgation of the terrible racial laws. He established himself permanently in America, teaching at Columbia University.
For those who have labored on the Renaissance and continue to do so, the name and work of Kristeller remain central and fundamental. Kristeller was not only a noteworthy historian of Renaissance philosophy, but also one of the most acute interpreters of cultural humanism. He was an extraordinary researcher of new manuscripts, new documents, and sources. No publication has surpassed his Iter Italicum, in which he provided descriptions of an extraordinary number of manuscripts on humanism and the Renaissance. One can state without exaggeration that Kristeller’s erudition places him in a group of exceptionally gifted exponents of human knowledge. Shortly after Kristeller’s death, Eugenio Garin, his friend and colleague, recalled an afternoon in Florence, with Giovanni Gentile present, at the former location of the publisher Olschki. Presenting Kristeller’s Supplementum Ficinianum, Gentile announced unequivocally “Basterebbe il Supplementum per assicurargli un posto di assoluto rilievo nei nostri studi. . . .” It is quite true: with the serenity and detachment granted to one who has concluded a study, Garin was able to capture the right phrase, even though as we well know, Paul Oskar Kristeller represented so much more. With the work he carried on, with the discoveries he made, his contribution was to an altered perception of the traditional concept of the Renaissance. [Excerpted and paraphrased from a tribute to Paul Oskar Kristeller by Professor Michele Ciliberto, Renaissance News and Notes, vol. 12, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 33.]
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