Conferences & Lectures - RSA

Location: Chicago

63rd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Chicago, 30 March – 1 April, 2017

This IAS sponsored the following sessions at RSA

Lying in State: The Effigy in Early Modern Italian Funerary Art ca. 1400–1600 I

Sat, April 1, 8:30 to 10:00am, Palmer House Hilton, Seventh Floor, Burnham 4


Lara R. Langer, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


Sheryl E. Reiss, Independent Scholar
Saints Lying in State: Presentation versus Representation 

In fifteenth-century Italy fundamental changes in saints’ cults occurred: bodies of the novel venerated were no longer fragmented, but measures were taken to guarantee their integrity and incorruptibility. My paper explores visual strategies within funerary monuments for quattrocento saints, oscillating between reinterpretation and negation of the gisant. The wooden effigy of Angela of Foligno (1500), for example, was not simply the portrayal of the departed, but a life-size reliquary. By representing the deceased, Gabriele Ferretti’s tomb (1489) resembled wall monuments with an effigy, yet it permitted visual contact with the venerated body through an aperture in the sarcophagus. Bernardino of Siena’s mausoleum (1505) did not depict a gisant in the expected position, replacing it by the corpse itself displayed in large openings, thereby substituting representation with presentation. Bernardino’s presence addressed theories of “real presence” of divine virtus in relics as well as ostentatious pride in owning the entire saint’s body. ­ Pavla Langer, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut

Italian Renaissance Effigies Neither Dead Nor Alive

I will present—largely through my own unpublished photographs—a group of fifteenth and early sixteenth century Italian effigies showing the body at the point of death. Containing subtle traces of life, and being neither completely inert nor fully alert, these effigies describe ambiguous in-between conditions. This paper will focus on the climax and sudden falling away of this as yet unrecognized mode of representation. I have found no examples of the at-death effigy in Italy after 1529. The timing of its disappearance therefore correlates with Erwin Panofsky’s observations about the activation of the effigy in the early sixteenth century. I will suggest that these at-death effigies constitute a transitory stage between the “sleeping” and “awake” states. I will also discuss subtle similarities between this newly identified intermediate group and the decaying cadaver effigies popular north of the Alps because these similarities suggest continuity and challenge the notion of a sudden “awakening. – Katerina Harris, New York University

The Long Sleep: Andrea Sansovino and the Cardinal Effigies at Santa Maria del Popolo

Andrea Sansovino’s twin cardinal tombs at Santa Maria del Popolo, produced between 1505 and 1509 for Pope Julius II, stand facing each other in the main chapel as eloquent commemorative monuments of the deceased and as masterpieces of marble by the artist. The twin tombs mark a critical shift in the function of memorialization of ecclesiastical figures. Some scholars, such as Erwin Panofsky, argued that the cardinals’ effigies are the most innovative and distinguishing feature on the tombs. The effigies are displayed as demi gisants with their heads rested on their hands propped by an elbow as if to appear in a state of slumber. This paper seeks to address the possible motivations for Sansovino’s unusual cardinal effigies, which inspired copyists, and will suggest that their unique qualities could be related to Augustinian notions of the “restful soul” and man’s salvation, themes highlighted throughout the visual program of the chapel. – Lara R. Langer, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Lying in State: The Effigy in Early Modern Italian Funerary Art ca. 1400–1600 II

Sat, April 1, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Palmer House Hilton, Seventh Floor, Burnham 4


Lara R. Langer, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


Lara R. Langer, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Effigies are for Girls: Representing Women in Death in Quattrocento Italy

Jacopo della Quercia’s famous tomb of Ilaria del Caretto is typically considered the only notable—and sometimes even the lone—female effigy from fifteenth-century Italy. This paper looks beyond Ilaria to many other effigial tombs created for women in that century and examines how they were adapted to an array of biographical concerns and commemorative motivations. Although always “asleep,” the range of features presented in these effigies belies attempts to group them into a monolithic type. Specifically, this paper examines how these figures were dressed, their facial features—including whether they were youthfully ideal or virtuously wizened—and their attributes, such as dogs, prayer books, or empty hands. It concludes that these public portraits of women in death thoughtfully engaged varied commemorative modes, particularly regarding ideals of beauty and virtue. These strategic choices lay the groundwork for sixteenth-century changes, which included greater numbers and greater representational diversity in women’s effigies. – Brenna Graham, Independent Scholar.

Sienese Funeral Effigies: A Case Study in Cross-Cultural Exchange in Central Italy

Scholars often frame Siena as isolationist, yet from its beginning the republic was internationally vital, sending artists to work abroad and calling upon foreign artists to work in Siena. The diverse style of funeral effigies by Sienese sculptors, honoring patrons and high-ranking ecclesiastics, illustrates the cross-cultural transfer between Siena and Central Italy. Sienese Jacopo della Quercia’s unprecedented all’antica tomb for the Giunigi in Lucca, Ilaria del Carretto; Florentine Donatello’s groundbreaking perspectival effigy of Sienese Bishop Pecci; and, Sienese Giovanni di Stefano’s bronze naturalistic effigy of Venetian Cardinal Foscari for Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome demonstrate the demand for Sienese sculptors across Italy and the reception of foreign artists such as Donatello in Siena. Sienese sculptors assimilated elements derived from ancient Rome and humanist Florence, while retaining their native Sienese artistic traditions. In sum, I examine the overall importance of cross-cultural exchange in Sienese tomb design throughout the Italian peninsula. – Maria Lucca, The Graduate Center, CUNY

The Tomb of the Prince of Kleve: Medieval Iconography in a Counter-Reformation Monument

The kneeling effigy appears for the first time in Rome on the tomb of Karl Friedrich von Julich-Kleve-Berg (1577–79). The monument is an example of the revival of late medieval tomb types that often displayed the deceased multiple times; for example, as a reclining effigy and a kneeling supplicant. The display of neo-medieval features was part of Pope Gregory XIII’s propaganda to celebrate the Golden Age of Catholic doctrine. This paper will demonstrate how the imagery exhibited on the Kleve tomb celebrates the main tenets of the Counter-Reformation, particularly because much of the prince’s reign occurred during an intense period of strife between Catholics and Protestants. In addition, two concept drawings, attributed to Hans Speckaert, of the tomb’s relief work offer insight into the composition process, and demonstrate the possible collaboration between Speckaert, a well-known painter and draughtsman, and the Flemish workshop that produced the monument.  – Tancredi Farina, “Sapienza,” Università di Roma

Trecento Art Beyond Italy I

Sat, April 1, 8:30 to 10:00am, Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor, Indiana Room


Amy E. Gillette, St. Joseph’s University


Amy E. Gillette, St. Joseph’s University

Art in a Cross-Confessional Context: A Trecento Icon at the Panagia Phanerōmenē in Kastoria

Often the images from the Early Modern era overlay earlier images hidden beneath. Such is the case with a remarkable icon of the Man of Sorrows at the Church of the Panagia Phanerōmenē in Kastoria in northwestern Greece. This icon presents a striking instance of a Western type refashioned to suit an Orthodox liturgical setting. Crafted at the acme of mendicant Italian missionary efforts in Byzantium, it affords insight into the reconceptualization of devotional images by artisans active in the fourteenth-century eastern Mediterranean sphere. This appropriative process was reciprocal, as analysis of other syncretistic images shows. Proceeding from questions of origin and identity traditionally asked of ‘hybrid’ works of art, this paper focuses on function: use-value and the devotional context in which the Phanerōmenē icon served. Embedded within this discussion are comments on the state of Crusader Art and a plea to extend its parameters to encompass Trecento Italian painting  – John Lansdowne, Princeton University

The Role of Genoa in the Arts of Trecento Constantinople

Assessing the impact the Genoese community had on the visual culture of the eastern Mediterranean is not an easy task. While the Genoese were important contributors to the economic, political, and religious environment of a number of cities in throughout the Mediterranean, including Constantinople and Famagusta, their contribution to the built environment is difficult to identify and complicated by an adoption and adaptation of various architectural and decorative forms. The fourteenth century, however, was a period in which Genoese political and religious players asserted themselves more visibly in cities like Famagusta and Constantinople. Using the architecture and decoration of the Arap Camii, the former Dominican church in Constantinople as a case study, his paper will explore the manner in which Genoese identity is expressed visually in this Mediterranean context. – Justine Andrews, University of New Mexico

New Evidence on Simone Martini at Avignon: Work, Network, and Reception

This paper elaborates on the recent discovery of a document that records a hitherto unknown work painted by Simone Martini during his final years in Avignon — effectively his last documented work: an altarpiece dated 1343 commissioned by a lay Florentine patron for the high altar of the Franciscan Church at Avignon. Unpublished evidence from the convent’s archives reveals that Simone’s employment by the Avignon Franciscans was hardly a coincidence, as the as their church was the beating heart of the Italian community in the papal city and counted among its benefactors a number of Simone’s most prestigious former patrons (for instance: Robert of Anjou, Sancia of Mallorca, Jacopo Stefaneshi and Napoleone Orsini). These new insights on Simone’s work and network at Avignon offer the opportunity to reconsider more broadly the impact of Sienese art on late medieval painting at Avignon and the city’s visual identity. – Emma Capron, The Frick Collection

The Trecento Madonna of Cambrai

For nearly a century, the painting venerated as Notre Dame de Grâce de Cambrai has been an exemplar in studies of artistic transmission between northwestern Europe and Byzantium. While scholars note in passing that the painting is Italian, little attention has been paid to the role played by its Trecento origins in shaping its unusual formal qualities and later celebration in the North. This paper first explores the panel’s interweaving of Tuscan, southern Italian and Balkan elements and their possible relationship to papal and Angevin projects previously elided through the simple sobriquet Italo-Byzantine. It then turns to the panel’s later French reception to suggest that parallels to Roman icons attributed to St. Luke, rather than perceived Byzantine origins, lay at the heart of the panel’s fifteenth-century cult. These moments reveal the blurred boundaries of medieval ‘Italy’ and the intersections of ritual and visual translation as interpretive modes. ­ – Christina Normore, Northwestern University

Sessions Sponsored by the Italian Art Society

Session Title: Altarpieces on the Move: Religious Art Redeployed in Early Modern Italy

Session Title: Eternal Painting? The Meaning and Materiality of Copper Supports
Organizers: Alexander Noell, Courtauld Institute of Art
Sally Higgs, Courtauld Institute of Art
Chair: Sean Roberts, Vill I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies
Respondent: Sean Roberts, Vill I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies

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