Organizers: Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, University of Vermont and Ilaria Andreoli, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris
Respondent: Comment: Catherine R. Puglisi, Rutgers University
“A Visual Testament by Luca Riva, a Deaf and Mute Pupil of the Procaccini”
The paper investigates the visual testament by Luca Riva, a mute and deaf artist who studied in Milan under Camillo Procaccini. Dated 9 September 1624, the document consists of twelve folios bound together in a small volume. On the sheets, ten brown-ink drawings illustrate the beneficiaries of Riva’s testament, identifying the inheritance intended for them. Conserved in the Archivio di Stato in Milan, the document is the only testament known to have been made exclusively of visual elements and represents an invaluable source for the study of seventeenth century Milan. Luca Riva’s testament casts light on the interconnections between art and disability in the early modern period, and emphasizes the predominant role held in Milan by the school of drawing owned by the Procaccini, a family of painters from Bologna who were instrumental in the evolution of Lombard art in the age of Archbishops Carlo and Federico Borromeo.
“‘Virtù nelle Pietre’: Lithic Agency in Early Modern Italian Culture”
This paper explores stone in early modern Italian culture. Focusing on the work of Cavaliere d’Arpino, who painted on lapis lazuli, I consider the appeal of stone as an artistic support and medium. I demonstrate how Arpino’s compositions were shaped by lithic textures and situate his techniques within a broader early modern interest in stone’s ‘liveliness’. Indeed, art theorists such as Ludovico Dolce conceived of stones as being ‘ensouled’ and in lively interaction with their surroundings. Within this context, artists who perceived anthropomorphic images in stone and incorporated them into their designs were acting simply as conduits for nature’s artistry. Lithic agency of this type undermines modern animate/inanimate dualisms to instead conceptualize the world as a living creature. Drawing partly on James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’ theory, I argue that early modern understandings of lively stones afford an opportunity for us to rethink our anthropocentric outlook and engage more respectfully with the earth that lies at our feet.
“Between Religion and Politics: The Altarpiece in Venice during Late Mannerism"
This paper derives from my PhD project devoted to the altarpiece in Baroque Venice, a subject still ignored by the literature. Its purpose is to highlight the relationship between the altarpiece and the historical events during the tardomanierismo (approximately 1570-1630): this period, often dismissed by critics as uninteresting, might actually reflect the Venetian will to preserve its own pictorial culture especially after the Interdetto crisis (the jurisdictional dispute against the Papacy, 1606-1607). Thus, because of its simplified compositions and its style based on Tintoretto’s language, considered the most representative of “venezianità”, late mannerist painting may also have been used to express the cultural and political independence of the Serenissima. To illustrate this assumption, the paper analyses the altarpiece depicting Saint Magnus crowning Venice (1611, San Geremia, in situ) painted by Jacopo Palma il Giovane (1550-1628), in which even the iconography was conceived to demonstrate Venetian political superiority over the Papacy.