The seventh annual IAS/Kress Lecture will be held 1 June 2016 in Florence at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Professor Megan Holmes of the University of Michigan will present “New Perspectives on the Reception of Florentine Panel Painting: Interpreting Scratch Marks.” Her paper explores an understudied feature of Florentine Renaissance panel paintings, namely, evidence of intentional scratching with a sharp implement of pictorial figuration and imagery. These scratch marks, found across a variety of genres, formats, and display contexts, can rarely be documented or dated with any precision. Similar intentional markings can also be found in works of art in other global, historical cultures. Holmes argues that these scored Italian Renaissance panel paintings constitute an intriguing body of historical evidence that offers insights into the dynamic manner in which people interacted with images. The practice of intentional damage seems to have been more prevalent in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, tapering off in the sixteenth century. Holmes will theorize and situate these scratching acts, looking at both Renaissance perspectives and current scholarship on global “iconoclasms.” These deliberate markings are part of what Michael Camille called “the archaeology of the image and its subsequent reception.” Holmes will underscore the need for these marks to be more in evidence in collections, photographic reproductions, and art history.
Bernardo Daddi (attr.), Torture of Santa Reparata, c.1338-40, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Maitland F. Griggs Collection, Bequest of Maitland F. Griggs, 1943 (not on view)