FEBRUARY 8, Tuesday, 4 pm (16:00 EST)
MARIAN ROTHSTEIN (Carthage College, Professor Emeritus)
Privacy as I will be considering it means being able to control access to one's person, having the right to be alone, to choose not to be seen. Expectations of privacy tend to be taken as self-evident; rarely is or was it felt they needed to be rendered explicit; this silence merits revisiting. The evidence needs to be coaxed out of the cracks in the past. My paper examines a broad range of sources to show that, taken in our modern sense, broadly speaking, privacy did not exist in sixteenth-century France. With minor variations, this can be projected across Western Europe. Examining these assumptions offers modern historians a different understanding of the reality-on-the-ground of the objects of our study. In this talk I will be focusing primarily on evidence to be found in architecture, realistic fiction, and glimpses from contemporary letters and modern historians' work in the archives. They all invite the conclusion that being alone in early modern Europe was rare, rarely desired, and might be dangerous.
MARCH 8, Tuesday, 4 pm (16:00 EST)
DIANA GISOLFI (Pratt Institute; Director, Pratt in Venice)
Cinquecento Façade Frescoes in Venice and descriptions of ancient painted exteriors
The Renaissance vogue of frescoing facades of palaces was not limited to Venice and the Veneto, but façade frescoes in Renaissance Venice proliferated after the decision of the Senate in 1505 that statuary and encrustations of marbles on facades would be reserved for buildings of church and state. The painted palaces of patricians and wealthy merchants along the Grand Canal and in major campi are described as splendid in Cinquecento and early Seicento sources.
While the façade frescoes of the city of Venice can now be studied only via descriptions, drawings, prints, and a few salvaged fragments, in the Venetian Stato di Terra (Verona, Treviso, Bassano) many are quite well preserved.
Were there other reasons for this vogue, which seems unwise for a city in the sea where the salt air “eats” the paintings (Vasari 1568)?
This paper will explore the possible relation of the short-lived painted splendor of Renaissance Venice’s facades to written descriptions of ancient cities that were being published apace by Venetian printing presses (Herodotus 1502, Vitruvius 1511, Strabo 1516 and many more), and will consider if any city of the ancient world stands out as a model for emulation.
APRIL 12, Tuesday, 4 pm (16:00 EDT)
MARY D. EDWARDS (Pratt Institute)
Text and image in Altichiero’s Infancy Cycle in the Oratory of Saint George in Padua (1377-1384)
Raimondino de’ Lupi was a condottiere and diplomat who served the House of Carrara which ruled Padua throughout most of the 14th century. In about 1377, Raimondino commissioned the Oratory of Saint George as his funerary Chapel. It stands just beyond the facade of the basilica where the remains of Saint Anthony of Padua are enshrined. The walls of the chapel were frescoed by Altichiero and his workshop who completed twenty-two, mostly narrative panels in 1384. This paper focuses on the Infancy Cycle shown in five panels on the entry wall. I will explore the iconographical references, the manner by which the artist expressed the passage of time pictorially, and the symbolic relationship between the paintings and the architectural container, in particular, the oculus above and the entry door below. My interpretations are supported largely by Scripture, the biblical Apocrypha, the Golden Legend, French poetry, the Divine Comedy and other texts. Altichiero’s work in the oratory was the subject of my dissertation, and I have published previously on his handling of pictorial narrative in the cycles of Saint Catherine and Saint Lucy, also in Raimondino’s funerary chapel.
MAY 10, Tuesday, 4 pm (16:00 EDT)
MATTIA CIPRIANI (Alexander Von Humboldt Research Fellow, Freie Universität Berlin)
The Liber de natura rerum after Thomas de Cantimpré:
Users, Clusters and Textual Typologies of a Naturalistic Encyclopedia
between the 14th and 16th Centuries.
Between 1230 and 1255/1260, the Dominican Friar Thomas de Cantimpré (1201-1270/71) wrote and modified one of the most influential encyclopedias of the Middle Ages, the Liber de natura rerum. Its main goal was to provide updated naturalistic material to Thomas’ Brothers – and, through a correct comprehension of the world, an understanding and demonstration of God’s will and goodness. As a result of its vast, complete, well-organized and scientifically updated catalogs, Thomas’ work had a huge impact on contemporary and later culture. The purpose of this paper is to understand its use in that period by observing its later readers, copyists, production areas, clusters and most widespread textual typologies.