2013 Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, San Diego
IAS-Sponsored Session

Collections and Objects of Knowledge: Books, Gardens, and Studioli

Sheraton Marina Tower, Lower Level – Nautilus 4
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 3:45-5:15pm

Organizers and Chairs: Sarah R. Kyle, University of Central Oklahoma, and Jennifer D. Webb, University of Minnesota Duluth


Susan Nalezyty, George Washington University
“Townhouse and Villa: Pietro and Bernardo Bembo’s orti and studioli in Padua”

Pietro Bembo owned a substantial art collection and library befitting his notable intellectual interests. A lifelong labor to assemble, it did not begin with Pietro; he inherited rich visual arts and a library from his father, Bernardo. Personal and professional differences determined the types of objects that they acquired, the sorts of artistic projects they patronized, and the uses to which they put their rare material remains. They invited an exclusive audience of artists and writers, who not only studied their objects on exhibit, but informed their hosts’ purchases, and crafted their portraits as worldly, intellectual men of letters, who welcomed visitors to revel in the didactic lessons of the visual. Like readership gleaned from marginalia in a text, contemporary viewership may be recovered about this family’s lavish interiors and exteriors.

Joan Boychuk, University of British Columbia
"Parataxis and Disjunctive Time: Joris Hoefnagel’s Artistic Interaction with the Habsburg Kunstkammer"

In the 1590s, the court artist, Joris Hoefnagel, engaged in a visual dialogue with two calligraphic model books that had been inscribed twenty years earlier by the imperial scribe, Georg Bocskay. Originally commissioned by Emperor Ferdinand I, the two manuscripts eventually passed to the collections of Ferdinand’s grandson, Emperor Rudolf II. While in Rudolf’s possession, the books were given to Hoefnagel to embellish with a pictorial response to the preexisting text; this he did by employing a variety of strategies stemming from current epistemological practices, including natural history and emblematics. Transecting time and media, the manuscripts point to novel ways artists could engage with and contribute to princely collections. Indeed, they indicate the ways artists could respond to objects within such collections and thereby make their own mark in the production of knowledge at the early modern court.

Kelley Magill, University of Texas at Austin
"Collecting the Catacombs: Early Modern Drawing Collections of Christian Antiquities"

Because of their significance as both ancient historical sources and powerful devotional images, drawings of the catacombs circulated widely and inspired diverse responses and interpretations among early modern Catholic scholars and reformers. Following the discovery of the painted catacombs on Via Salaria in 1578, Alfonso Chacón and Philips van Winghe formed the first extensive collections of drawings documenting the early Christian frescoes, sarcophagi, and inscriptions found in the catacombs. Antonio Bosio copied and expanded upon these earlier collections and commissioned a series of engravings after his collection of over two hundred drawings after the catacombs for his treatise, Roma sotterranea. I argue that the reproduction and interpretation of early Christian antiquities in the catacombs impacted historical and theological systems of knowledge in early modern Rome by responding to urgent issues concerning the history of Catholic tradition and post-Tridentine reforms.

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