2014 Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York
IAS-Sponsored Session

Painted Objects: Furniture Ornament and the Arts in Renaissance Italy

Hilton, Nassau A
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 1:15 to 2:45pm

Organizers: Chriscinda C. Henry, McGill University, and Susannah Rutherglen, Gladys Kireble Delmas Foundation

Chair: Chriscinda C. Henry, McGill University


Rebekah Tipping Compton, College of Charleston
"Concealed Flesh: Female Nudes inside Fifteenth-Century Florentine Chests"

While recent scholarship has examined the painted exteriors of wedding and betrothal chests, their interior decoration has not been extensively studied. This paper investigates female nudes on the inner lids of cassoni and forzerini, paying particular attention to concealment and display within the nuptial bedchamber. Created during the fifteenth century, these chests contained the clothing and jewelry a woman wore to adorn her body and attract her lover’s admiring gaze. Their insides, however, revealed an unadorned body, whose physical features exemplified the health and fertility necessary to create a new body, preferably of the male sex. This paper explores the interplay between these private nudes and the more public portrayals of Eve, particularly the pristine beauty of her prelapsarian body. It also examines the gradual movement of the reclining nude from interior lids to spalliere and then to large-scale panel paintings, analyzing the art of hiding and exposing feminine flesh.

Elinor Myara Kelif, Université Paris I Sorbonne
"Private Delectation: Jacopo Zucchi’s Cabinet Paintings for Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici"

Cabinet paintings on copper are a specific class of painted object that had multiple functions but are not well defined by art historiography. These small and delicate pictures were displayed in private studioli and as elements of decorative art for pieces of furniture. They were highly appreciated by European connoisseurs, especially by the Roman cardinalate, but their meaning and function await further study. This paper explores a particularly intriguing example: the lost studiolo di noce of Ferdinando de’ Medici, decorated with eight small paintings by Jacopo Zucchi. I propose a reconstruction of the complex program, probably inspired by the studiolo of Francesco I in Florence, of this unique piece of furniture, one of Ferdinando’s masterpieces in the Villa Medici in Rome. I also consider it in relation to the rest of the decoration of the cardinal’s apartments and to the other sportelli painted by Jacopo Zucchi for the cardinal.

Susannah Rutherglen, Gladys Kireble Delmas Foundation
"Painting at the Threshold: Pictures for Doors in Renaissance Venice"

This paper focuses on a little explored genre of Venetian Renaissance domestic art, painted doors and shutters. Several of the city’s most notable artists created pictures for these liminal settings, which typically marked the boundary between two rooms or the enclosure of a substantial cabinet. Recently discovered documentary and technical evidence makes possible the identification of well-known easel paintings as original door ornaments. This investigation seeks to reconstruct the intended settings of these objects and to understand how their content relates to their placement and function. I argue that the paintings take up themes of passage and obstruction, privilege and exclusion, and concealment and revelation inherent in the concept of the doorway.

Back to Conference

Officers & Contacts