IAS at Renaissance Society of America (RSA)

See below for more information on currentupcoming, and past IAS participation at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting.

The 2021 RSA annual meeting will take place 7-10 April 2021 in Dublin. Several IAS-sponsored panels that were originally set for the 2020 meeting in Philadelphia will now take place there.

Visual Networks of Healing in Renaissance Italy

Organizers and Chairs: Sandra Cardarelli, University of Aberdeen, UK; Valentina Živković, Institute for Balkan Studies, SASA, Belgrade

This session explores faith and medicine as two of the traditional methods of healing represented in the visual arts in the Renaissance, and how its local and global dimensions influenced Italian art. Visual imagery will be examined to establish the ways in which narratives of healing practices and healing saints were formed and became an integral part of cultural traditions. Healing will be discussed in both its physical and metaphysical dimensions to highlight the ways in which religious and cultural values related to healing translated into shared visual idioms that were sought after, acquired, adapted and effectively utilized to foster new religious cults and/ or healing practices. As imagery was actively used to forge devotional, social and political networks between different locales, main centres and liminal communities, we will examine how the practice and representation of healing differed and influenced dominant cultural centres and the periphery.

Theresa Flanigan, The College of Saint Rose, “Art, Compassion, and Healing at the Tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.”

Louise Marshall, University of Sydney, “Topographies of Salvation: The City Model in Renaissance Plague Images.”

Alessandra Foscati, University of Lisbon, “Healing Saints and Disease: Images and Texts.”


Women and Gender in Italian Trecento Art and Architecture I

Organizer and Chair: Judith Steinhoff, University of Houston

These sessions examine both the patronage and the representation of women in 13th- and 14th-century Italian art, topics that remain under-explored despite the large body of scholarship on women and gender in other cultures and periods. Papers go beyond the stereotypical gender identities and roles promoted by the Church and theological writings, to seek a complex understanding of the models for and the lives of Trecento women.

Cordelia Warr, University of Manchester, UK, “Women re/act: Women and Images in Trecento Art.”

Angelica Federici, Cambridge University, “Convents, Clausura and Cloisters: Female Religious Patronage in Medieval Lazio.”

Janis Elliott, Texas Tech University, “The Art of Royal Propaganda: Recovering the Queen of Naples’ Reputation.”


Women and Gender in Italian Trecento Art and Architecture II

Judith Steinhoff, University of Houston, “Up Close and Personal: Gendering Small Devotional Ensembles.”

Sarah Wilkins, Pratt Institute, “A Tale of Two Vita Panels: Mary Magdalen as a Gendered Model of Penitence.”

Erik Gustafson, George Mason University, “In the Footsteps of Women: Gender Segregation or Inclusion in Mendicant Churches.”


Painted Faces: Documenting the Frescoed Façade in Renaissance Rome and Beyond

Organizer, Chair, and Respondent: Alexis Culotta, Tulane University

In early sixteenth-century Rome, as the architectural language of grand domestic spaces was being further refined, elaborate façade fresco decorations became popular. These cycles, some of which were designed to root the structure (and its owner) in Roman antiquity and others which aimed to make a humble space more imposing, were celebrated in their day and even documented (albeit sporadically) by artists. This session welcomes papers that explore frescoed facades in Rome and beyond from various perspectives, such as earlier roots, relations to other cities in Italy (such as Venice, where the tradition has been more extensively studied), or “painted faces” as a mode of artistic exchange.

Flavia Barbarini, Temple University, “Giuseppe Porta Salviati’s Painted Façades in Venice: Reconfiguring Venetian Tradition “all’usanza di Roma.”

Maria Fabricius Hansen, University of Copenhagen, “Denmark Grotesques in Sgraffito: Sixteenth-Century Facades between Art and Nature.”


New Perspectives on Italian Art I — Sculpture

Organizers: Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, University of Vermont; Ilaria Andreoli, Research fellow, ITEM-CNRS, Paris

Chair: Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, University of Vermont

Respondent: Sarah Blake McHam, Rutgers University

These sessions create a space for emerging scholars (recent Ph.D.s or Ph.D. candidates) to present their work on any area of early modern Italian art (1300-1600). These scholars work with new methodologies, new areas of study, or innovative approaches to more traditional areas of Renaissance studies. The sessions provide new scholars a forum to present their ideas and methods and an opportunity to receive constructive feedback from senior scholars who will serve as respondents.

Elena Cera, Università di Padova, “The Putti of the Thrones. A Classical Model for the Renaissance spiritello.”

The Thrones are a series of twelve incomplete Roman reliefs, dating to the first century AD, each representing the empty throne of a god, sided by two putti holding the emblems of the missing god, with some architectural elements in the background. My proposal means to investigate the extraordinary success of the Thrones under literary, collecting, and especially figurative respects and to establish their role in defining the iconographic model of the winged putto (or “spiritello”) in Renaissance art. Our attention will particularly focus on the documents, guides, and diaries mentioning the Thrones. This detailed study of the success of the series of Thrones as a figurative model will enable us to discuss how a classical source plays a role in defining a new artistic language: indeed our Thrones were a starting point for the creation of the “spiritello” during the Renaissance.

Vincenzo Sorrrentino, University of Pisa, “Seeking a Roman Identity: the del Riccio and Michelangelo.”

Luigi del Riccio, a Florentine wool merchant, arrived in Rome around 1538. Soon after, because of his relationship with the fuoriusciti, Florentine aristocrats exiled by Cosimo I, Luigi met Michelangelo Buonarroti and began a friendship that lasted until Luigi’s death in 1546. Thanks to this close friendship, Michelangelo provided Luigi with a design for the tomb of his nephew, Cecchino Bracci, in the Roman church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. The choice of such church, together with some other elements made me think Luigi was trying to settle a branch of his family in Rome. Although his project will not continue, a sort of ‘secular cult’ of Michelangelo will be nurtured inside of the del Riccio clan until the end of the 16th century. In fact, three different chapels, in Florence and in Naples, will be decorated with copies after originals by Michelangelo, as proud demonstrations of a link with the most eminent artist who ever lived.

Louisa McKenzie, The Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London, “Mapping Production: Wax Workshops in Renaissance Florence.”

This paper presents a digital humanities project which addresses issues surrounding the production, purchase, and use of wax ex-votos in Florence in the period 1300-1500: an interactive digital map of the locations of Florentine wax workshops during this period. By providing the first systematic geographical survey of wax workers and their workshops in Florence, this map tells us more about geographical patterns of production and purchase, about the influence of social and neighborhood dynamics on these practices and about the economic sustainability (or not) of workshop groupings. It can also add a new dimension to studies of the evolving popularity of Florentine shrines and miraculous images. After outlining key research questions, this paper will focus on the practical details involved in creating the interactive digital map, particularly in terms of methodology, data sources, software and best practice.


New Perspectives on Italian Art II – Overlooked Objects

Chair and Respondent: Stephen J. Campbell, Johns Hopkins University

Amanda Hilliam, Brookes University, “Against Naturalism: Carlo Crivelli’s Artifice.”

A central goal in the art of Carlo Crivelli was to inform the viewer of painting’s crafted nature. Naturalism, which attempts to minimize evidence of fabrication by holding a mirror up to nature, has no place in his work. Rather, I argue that Crivelli deliberately avoided devices such as perspective and oil that attempt to mimic the optical effects of reality, employing instead hatched tempera, a stylized line, gold leaf, and clashing systems of representation. His works demonstrate an equal emphasis on surface and depth; they incorporate both painted fictions and objects in relief; and they position emblems at the threshold between art and reality, such as the flies, cucumbers, and cracks that penetrate Crivelli’s otherwise immaculate depictions of the sacred. What were Crivelli’s intentions? How might his mendicant patrons have responded to such heightened artifice? And what role did the artist’s own persona play?

Bar Leshem, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, “‘Warning’ Imagery on Sixteenth-Century Italian Cassoni.”

The aim of this paper is to examine ‘warning’ imagery on sixteenth-century Italian cassoni which served the purpose of portraying messages of morality. These representations, mostly from Greco-Roman mythology, presented protagonists who acted against the ancient morality, and whose behavior was translated into the moral codes of Renaissance Christianity. Protagonists who acted, for example, in hybris were later allegorized into sinners of pride, as in the Niobid cassoni from the Robert Lehman Collection. This allegorization process, along with the introduction of such “warning” imagery into the domestic realm, combine to form a unique and intriguing case-study. Sixteenth-century carved cassoni were often overlooked in the field of research, as opposed to their fifteenth-century counterparts. Through these chests, this paper aims to present and explore an image of the cinquecento Italian society, that used this kind of art form and negative messages as a way to educate its civilians.

Lindsay Sheedy, Washington University in St. Louis, “A Feast for Worms: The Rise and Fall of the Presepe in Early Modern Naples.”

As an art form that celebrates Christ’s earthly presence, the history of the early modern Neapolitan presepe is now one of absence. This type of sculptural nativity scene dominated altars throughout Naples in the early Cinquecento, when presepi boasted dozens of life-size polychrome statues set into stage-like niches. Today, no early modern Neapolitan presepe remains in its entirety, with most having been dismantled, destroyed, or abandoned to rot. This paper recovers the presepe’s place in the religious and artistic landscape of early modern Naples. It does so by stitching together archival documentation, historical descriptions, and extant sculptures by artists such as the Alemanni and Giovanni da Nola. Despite many presepi now being ghosts of their former glory, the paper demonstrates that this art form was not always considered peripheral but was privileged as both a vehicle for worship and a site of artistic innovation and exchange in early modern Naples.

Past IAS Sessions at RSA

2020 66th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Philadelphia (cancelled)
2019 65th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Toronto
2018 64th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans
2017 63rd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Chicago
2016 62nd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Boston
2015 61st Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Soceity of America, Berlin

2014 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York
2013 59th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, San Diego
2012 58th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Washington
2011 57th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Montreal
2010 56th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Venice