Ehrlich, Tracy L. 1965- (Tracy Lee Ehrlich)

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Ehrlich, Tracy L. 1965- (Tracy Lee Ehrlich)


Born April 28, 1965; daughter of Harold (a financial adviser) and Elizabeth Ehrlich; married Andrew Sloane Auchincloss (an attorney), May 22, 1999. Education: Princeton University, B.A., Columbia University, Ph.D., 1995.


Office—Department of Art History, Colgate University, 13 Oak Dr., Hamilton, NY 13346.


Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, assistant professor of art history. Taught at Columbia, Vassar, Rutgers, and Bard Graduate Center.


Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome: Villa Culture at Frascati in the Borghese Era (nonfiction), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.


Tracy L. Ehrlich is an art historian and the author of the book Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome: Villa Culture at Frascati in the Borghese Era. Describing the book for the Architectural Review, David Watkin commented: "What is new about this book is that it rests on the assumption that religion and agriculture are the foundations of Rome's prosperity in this period, and that the history of Rome is a history of its countryside." Ehrlich's book focuses mainly on a rebuilding project that took place from 1616 until 1620 at the Villa Mondragone. The project was directed by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, and it was done for Borghese's uncle, Pope Paul V. Scipione hired the architect Jan van Zanten, who created a dwelling that served as a papal residence and headquarters in a country setting. The Borghese family made a transition from nobility in ecclesiastical circles to the aristocracy within the secular world because of this project and the changes their family experienced due to it, according to Watkin. Watkin found Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome to be "fascinating." Watkin noted that, unlike most books of this sort, Ehrlich's does not discuss the details of the garden plans or the decorative arts in the buildings, but instead shows the ways in which the uses of the land reflected the social values of the period.

Another reviewer, Tod A. Marder, praised Ehrlich in the Art Bulletin for her "magnificently documented study." Marder explained that the author demonstrates how the villas of the Italian countryside served both to give the aristocracy a retreat from the city, while also maintaining their social and political networking system within this more rural context. Ownership of one of these villas could improve one's fortunes materially, due to the agricultural goods they produced, as well as giving an immediate boost to one's social status, particularly among the aristocratic society associated with the Pope and his court. Marder also praised Ehrlich's book for rescuing the Villa Modragone from relative obscurity. Other villas in the area are situated in more picturesque spots or have landscaping that is more spectacular, and Borghese's own work on the Pope's residence in Rome even overshadows the Villa Borghese. The property also became somewhat obscure simply because the villas of Frascati, while a considerable draw for tourists in an earlier age, eventually fell out of favor simply because they were more difficult to reach than other attractions in the same general area. Furthermore, the political significance of the area faded when Pope Urban VIII took up a new villa residence, Castelgandolfo, in another area.

Through Ehrlich's book, wrote Marder, "the Borghese estate at Frascati steps from the shadows of history to assume a major role in our understanding of villa life in the early seicento." This reviewer noted that Ehrlich's discussion is broken down into four sections: the first dealing with the papacy's link to Villa Modragone, the second presenting the history of Frascati, the third with the villa itself and the way it was used, and the fourth placing the villa in a wider cultural setting. Marder stated that Ehrlich shows how the villas of that time and place functioned as no less than palaces, demonstrating power and providing a quick means to improving one's social status. He said that Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome reveals Scipione Borghese as "a crafty yet cultured cardinal-nephew, as sophisticated in the artistic and social arenas of Roman life as in his political roles." He noted that, while earlier accounts have painted Borghese as a man with only a superficial grasp of the arts, he really was "a force to be dealt with seriously." Marder concluded that Ehrlich's book "takes what might seem an unpromising topic … and brings it alive by truly engaging the notion of villa culture in a specific context, weaving its themes into a new standard for scholarship on gardens and country estates. The prodigious research here gives the impression that every source has been read and digested, every possible document found and utilized."



Architectural Review, May, 2003, David Watkin, review of Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome: Villa Culture at Frascati in the Borghese Era, p. 96.

Art Bulletin, March, 2006, review of Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome, p. 181.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2003, R. Brilliant, review of Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome, p. 1542.

Sixteenth Century Journal, spring, 2004, Allison Lee Palmer, review of Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome, p. 214.

Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2002, review of Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome, p. 13.


Colgate University Web site, (March 24, 2008), biographical information about Tracy L. Ehrlich.

New York Times, (May 23, 1999), "Weddings: Tracy Ehrlich, Andrew Auchincloss."