Professor Mahnaz Yousefzadeh has published her latest book, Florence’s Embassy to the Sultan of Egypt: An English Translation of Felice Brancacci’s Diary (Palgrave).
The book is the first English translation of Felice di Michele Brancacci’s diary of his 1422 mission to the court of Sultan Al-Ashraf Seyf-ad-Din Barsbay of Cairo. The text portrays the transnational experiences of Brancacci including those between the East and West, Christians and Muslims, and the ancient and modern worlds. Two accompanying chapters discuss the unexpected motifs in Brancacci’s voyage, as well as tracing the aftereffects of the mission in the iconic image of Tribute Money, the fresco he commissioned from Masaccio, on his return to his own world in Florence.
Paul Barolsky, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, writes that “this brief but rich and speculative book will be of particular interest to art historians who have often pondered the Brancacci Chapel, painted by Masaccio and Masolino, in relation to the life of its owner, Felice Brancacci, Florentine ambassador to Cairo. Felice comes alive in his important chronicle which is carefully glossed by the author, who also offers the reader a bold, new interpretation of Masaccio’s Tribute Money.”
The book is dedicated to NYU’s Global Liberal Studies, and in particular the First Year Away program in Florence where Professor Yousefzadeh undertook this translation of Felice Brancacci’s Diario. The purpose of the translation was pedagogic: to contribute to Liberal Studies’ collective work of globalizing the teaching of the Humanities. It was through the translation of Felice’s descriptions of his experience in Egypt that she arrived at a new reading of Masaccio’s Tribute Money, a fresco among the Petrine cycle he commissioned for his family Chapel in San Frediano neighborhood of Florence.