The President of the Italian Art Society invites you to the

12th Annual IAS/Kress Lecture
Dr. Jodi Cranston, Boston University
The Worn Animal:
Furs and Perfume in Early Modern Venetian Art

Fondazione Cini, Venice, 17.00–18.30, 30 June 2023
In person • coffee before & aperitivo to follow 
Live-streaming available

Titian, Isabella d’Este, c. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum

In addition to acquiring and keeping animals for hunting and for companionship, early modern Venetians actively sought out and circulated a range of products made from animals.  Furs of marten, sable, ermine, squirrel, and fox, among others; gloves made from a variety of animal skins; and musk generated from civet cats and other animal sources were worn.  Wearing animal products was not, of course, an innovation of or limited to early modern Venice.  However, despite this relatively continuous supply, these animal products make a noticeable increase in their appearance in artworks, specifically Venetian paintings, in the later 15th and early 16th centuries.  For a few decades around the turn of the 16th century, furs (both on clothing as well as hand-held furs such as muffs and pelts), gloves, and musk (and specifically the pomanders and jewelry used for carrying the scents) became more prevalent in portrait-type paintings, in particular.  Sitters are portrayed with worn animal products at a time when the supply of new furs in particular was somewhat compromised by shifts in trade routes and dwindling ecological resources; and second-hand furs were widely available to and circulated among a growing number of socio-economic groups.  Wealth and status oftentimes facilitated the initial acquisition of these animal products, but were not absolutely necessary, and certainly not necessary in order to wear them.  Such circumstances undermine the art historical interpretations of the depiction of these worn animal products solely and dependably as signs of the sitter’s wealth and status.

Jodi Cranston, Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University, is the author of Green Worlds of Renaissance Venice.  Her paper today is related to research undertaken for a forthcoming book entitled Animal Sightings: Art, Animals, and Court Culture, 1400-1550, which is scheduled to be published by Penn State University Press in 2025.

12th Annual IAS/Kress Lecture

Where: In-person at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Italy; with live-streaming for remote attendees at or on the Fondazione Cini’s YouTube channel

When: Friday 30 June 2023

  • Coffee break at 16.00, preceding the event
  • Lecture and q&a 17.00–18.30
  • Introductions by Luca Massimo Barbero (Director of the Institute of Art History, Fondazione Cini) and Tenley Bick (IAS President)
  • Aperitivo and cocktails in the cloisters from 18.30–20.00

What: Dr. Jodi Cranston, Professor in the Department of History of Art and Acoston University “The Worn Animal: Furs and Perfume in Early Modern Venetian Art” (delivered in English). 

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