2019 Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Toronto
IAS-Sponsored Session

Art Beyond Spanish Italy, 1500-1700

Sheraton Centre Toronto, Civic Ballroom South
Moday March 18, 2020 4pm-5:30pm

Organizer: Emily Wood, Northwestern University

Organizer: Emily Monty, Brown University

Chair: Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, University of Vermont

By the end of the sixteenth century, the Spanish Crown controlled major regions of the Italian Peninsula, from the Kingdom of Naples to the Duchy of Milan. At the same time, areas outside of Spanish sovereignty, including the Italian Republics, Tuscany, Mantua, and the Papal States, felt the effects of Spain’s “soft” imperialism (Dandelet, 2001) in economic, social, and cultural spheres. This panel focuses on art-historical approaches that explore the question of Spanish cultural imperialism on the Italian Peninsula outside of the Spanish Empire. Papers explore topics including artistic patronage by agents of the Spanish Empire; the circulation of objects through diplomatic, commercial, or artistic networks; and the imperial image and visual memory of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, following his coronation in Bologna in 1530.


Marcello Calogero, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
“Early Modern Multiples: New Findings on Charles V’s Portraits in Italy”

After his second journey to Italy, in April 1533 Charles V left from Genova bringing back to Spain a beautiful marble portrait of himself carved by the Ferrarese sculptor Alfonso Lombardi, who realized it in a famous competition with Titian. Lombardi’s bust is thought to be lost, but three copies of it were commissioned in Italy between 1533 and 1537: the importance of these sculptures went almost completely overlooked, but they were crucial for the early diffusion of the emperor’s image and political message at the courts of Florence and Mantua after his coronation in Bologna in 1530. Thanks to the rediscovery of a previously unknown bust and one unpublished letter to Cosimo I de’ Medici, it is now possible to shed light on the material history of these objects and compare their ‘multiplication’ to that of Leone Leoni’s imperial bronze portraits.

Francesca Mavilla, independent scholar
“Chiappino Vitelli as Cultural Diplomat between the Spanish and Florentine Courts”

Gian Luigi Vitelli, known as Chiappino (1520-1575), typifies the interest in Italian art developed by the Spanish court in the latter 16th century. As commander for Cosimo I and Master of the General Field of the Spanish armies in Flanders, Vitelli was among the protagonists of the War in Flanders. From his letters we now know that he was also a promoter of the arts: he brought to Florence several medals and a portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola; and at the same time sent to Madrid portraits of the Medici family, and plants and seeds for the gardens of the king, and tried to bring works by Vasari and Bronzino. He was very close with people in the court, including Gabriel de Zayas, Cardinal Granvelle, the Duke of Alba, and Philip II himself. His role became that of a diplomat engaged in keeping firm relations between Tuscany and the Spanish monarchy.

Maria Vittoria Spissu, University of Bologna
“The Foreign Imperial Wave of Charles the Fifth on Bologna. Riding Legacy, Showing Off Power”

The paper explores the impact of Charles V’s stay and coronation in Bologna in 1530: the spectacular ceremonial, the iconographic devices, the visual narratives, the ostensible goal and the real aim of the representatives of – imperial, municipal, papal – power, as well as the task of the Spanish entourage, and the manufacture of the image – recognizable, upright and feared – of Charles as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire above the Spanish Italy. The paper will also consider the role of frescoes – in private palaces and in public spaces – tapestries, portraits and engravings, commissioned for celebratory purposes and later with memorial intent, in order to signpost that Bologna had not been a second-best choice; likewise the paper will underscore the peculiarity of the event as recorded in images and historical sources, by highlighting where and how its cultural heritage and memory have been set out.

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