Please join us in congratulating Dr. Joanne Allen on the publication of her book, Transforming the Church Interior in Renaissance Florence that was recently published by Cambridge University Press! Her book was supported by an IAS publication grant.
Dr. Allen shares the following information about her book:
Supported by an IAS publication grant, Joanne Allen’s new book, Transforming the Church Interior in Renaissance Florence (Cambridge University Press, 2022) investigates the monumental screens which once dominated Italian church interiors, which ostensibly separated the laity in the nave from the clergy seated in the choir precinct. Agents of both segregation and mediation, screens were impressive artistic structures that controlled social interactions, facilitated liturgical performances, and variably obscured or framed religious ritual and imagery. Allen’s book contains five case studies – on the mendicant, male and female monastic, and civic contexts – which not only demonstrate the almost ubiquitous presence of screens and present unpublished archival documentation and new architectural reconstructions, but elucidate issues such as gender, patronage, and class. Images, ground plans, and a glossary make these demolished structures comprehensible to a wide audience. In the 1560s-70s, screens were widely destroyed, and choir stalls were relocated to areas behind the high altar. Allen shows that while these changes were promoted by Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, Giorgio Vasari, and others, and expressed Counter-Reformation doctrine, they which fulfilled multiple aesthetic, political, and religious motivations, irreversibly transformed the function, atmosphere and meaning of the church interior.