Renaissance and Reformation Cristoforo Landino
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 May 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0202


Cristoforo Landino (b. 1424–d. 1498) is one of the more complicated figures among the Italian Renaissance humanists. He held the chair in rhetoric and poetics at the Florentine university for forty years, from which he lectured to the sons of the rich and famous and had easy access to the city’s Medici rulers and to the scholars and artists who gathered around them. His Dante commentary was presented to the city with great fanfare in a public ceremony in 1481, and his Virgil commentary was the filter through which two generations of readers interpreted the text. Yet when compared to some of the other scholars in his circle, he lacked the dazzling philological genius of Ambrogio Poliziano and the innovative philosophical boldness of Marsilio Ficino. By the 17th century, his star had faded; only toward the end of the 20th century did modern scholarship manage to appreciate his work on its own terms, as a dramatic synthesis of the classical and the vernacular around a vision of poetry, which the great writers like Virgil and Dante set forth in the same fundamental philosophical truths as Plato explained centuries earlier.

Life and Works

Foà 2004 and Kallendorf 1997 offer a brief narrative, with bibliography, of Landino’s life and works. Pasetto 1998 is somewhat unbalanced but presents a more detailed picture. Bandini 1747–1751 offers a great deal of information, more accurately than one might expect for reasons that are explained in Perosa 1940, while Lentzen 1981 focuses on organizing the secondary scholarship within a coherent analytical narrative. See also Lentzen 1971 (cited under Dante).

  • Bandini, Angelo Maria. Specimen literaturae Florentinae saeculi XV in quo dum Christophori Landini gesta enarrantur virorum ea aetate doctissimorum in literariam remp. 2 vols. Florence: Rigaccius, 1747–1751.

    Prepared 250 years after Landino’s death, but based on documents collected from his family and still cited regularly by modern scholars.

  • Foà, di Simona. “Landino, Cristoforo.” Dizionario biografico degli italiani 63 (2004): 428–433.

    The best brief introduction to Landino’s life and works, offering an analysis of Landino’s teaching and writing within the context of the major events of his life.

  • Kallendorf, Craig. “Landino, Cristoforo.” In Centuriae Latinae: Cent une figures humanistes de la Renaissance aux Lumières offertes à Jacques Chomarat. Edited by Colette Nativel, 477–483. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1997.

    A brief biography, followed by primary and secondary bibliography. A useful orientation.

  • Lentzen, Manfred. “Zum gegenwärtigen Stand der Landino-Forschung.” Wolfenbütteler Renaissance Mitteilungen 5 (1981): 92–100.

    An overview of Landino’s life and work with relevant bibliography cited in the footnotes. Useful both as a way to highlight important spheres of activity and for access to earlier scholarship.

  • Pasetto, Francesco. I Landino, una famiglia di artisti vissuti fra Pratovecchio e Firenze nei secoli d’oro della storia toscana. Arezzo e i Suoi Grandi 1. Cortona, Italy: Calosci, 1998.

    A study of Landino’s life and works by a local historian who places this material within the physical and cultural environment within which Landino lived, taught, and wrote. The closest we have to a modern intellectual biography.

  • Perosa, Alessandro. “Una fonte secentesca dello Specimen del Bandini in un codice della Biblioteca marucelliana.” La bibliofilia 42 (1940): 229–256.

    An analysis, based on textual material, of the Specimen as a historical source, concluding that Bandini based his work on documents that had been collected by a descendant of Landino’s.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.