Tag Archives: Renaissance Art

CFP: Allusion, Indirection, Enigma: Flirting with Early Modern Uncertainty

Posted by Bret Rothstein

Call for papers: Allusion, Indirection, Enigma: Flirting with Early Modern Uncertainty

Renaissance Society of America (Boston, March 31–April 2, 2016) #RSA16

Session organized by Bret Rothstein, Indiana University – Bloomington

Please send an abstract (up to 150 words) and a 300-word vita by May 31, 2015 to brothste@indiana.edu

Augustine may have believed in validity in interpretation, but the history of early modern Europe is thick with texts, objects, and ideas that seem to move in a very different direction. A striking number of images, texts, behaviors, musical scores, buildings, and even naturally-occurring objects seem designed, in a sense, to send the mind in any direction but the supposedly “right” one. (The matter becomes especially interesting with respect to “jokes of nature,” which might speak to a kind of divine mischief.) But why might this be the case? What was the value of getting things – very loosely conceived – wrong? In an attempt to begin answering such questions, this session is dedicated to the study of interpretive challenges, from theatrical productions to mathematical treatises, and from art works to naturally occurring objects. Its purpose is to promote conversation among scholars from across a range of disciplines about the social and cultural value of interpretation’s ugly stepchildren (confusion, misperception, ambivalence, and incomprehension, among others).


Bret Rothstein teaches in the Department of the History of Art at Indiana University, Bloomington, and is the editor for Ashgate’s Cultures of Play series.

The Antonio II Badile Album of Drawings – ‘an exceptionally interesting and meticulous book’

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

The Antonio Il Badile Album of Drawings‘This is an exceptionally interesting and meticulous book, whose supreme merit is to cast light on a hitherto distinctly overlooked but utterly absorbing corner of the admittedly seemingly endless artistic landscape of the Italian Renaissance.’

So writes world-renowned authority on Italian Renaissance painting Professor David Ekserdjian in November’s issue of The Art Newspaper, on Evelyn Karet’s The Antonio II Badile Album of Drawings: The Origins of Collecting Drawings in Early Modern Northern Italy.

The book makes a major contribution to the study of North Italian drawings, a field that has been relatively neglected when compared with Tuscan drawings of the Renaissance. The album in question is the earliest known example of an art collection pasted onto the pages of a book, and Karet traces its long history, from its assemblage in the late 1530s to its dismantling in the 1950s by dealer Francis Matthiesen. Matthiesen photographed the album in its entirety before taking it apart, meaning that Karet is able to discuss what the album originally looked like and draw conclusions about its organisation. The volume is supplemented by appendices providing a reconstruction of the original album and a page-by-page guide to its contents.

Karet uses the album as a new point of reference for the collecting of drawings in northern Italy in the early modern era before Vasari. She discusses the Badile family, the contact between artists and humanists, and the hitherto little-acknowledged role of Verona as an exceptionally early centre of collection in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Evelyn Karet holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is a Scholar in Residence in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Clark University, USA where she was previously Associate Professor and taught Renaissance Art History. A scholar of late Gothic and Renaissance art, she has also taught at Boston College, Wheaton College, and the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program in Italy.

Isabella d’Este and Leonardo da Vinci – Sarah Cockram talks about her new book and its relationship with an exciting recent discovery in Renaissance art

This is a guest post from Sarah Cockram, author of Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court

Isabella deste and francesco gonzagaMy book Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court has come out just in time for those wanting to know more about the subject of a new painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  The portrait of Isabella d’Este (marchesa of Mantua, 1474–1539) has just been discovered in a Swiss bank vault, in a story that would not be out of place in a Dan Brown novel.

A sketch of the Italian Renaissance noblewoman by Leonardo da Vinci is well known and can be seen in the Louvre but it was
believed that, despite Isabella’s wishes, the sketch was never worked up into a painted portrait. The new painting, claimed to be by Leonardo and his assistants (although, if so, unusual in being on canvas rather than wood), shows Isabella as an enigmatic figure, and comparisons are already being drawn to the Mona Lisa.

Isabella would certainly have enjoyed the controversy and being linked to the famous artist. Isabella strove to be recognised as the foremost woman of her times.  Renowned today as the leading female patron of art in Renaissance Italy, Isabella was also an eminent supporter of music and literature; a trendsetter and fashion icon; and a sharp politician.

As my new book shows, the marchesa worked together with her husband Francesco Gonzaga to keep their state afloat in a turbulent age, and she was not above intrigue and double dealing.  She held her own against the Borgias and has aptly been described as ‘Machiavelli in skirts’.

Sarah CockramSarah D.P. Cockram is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Her book casts new light on a long misunderstood relationship and, drawing on largely unpublished archival material, reveals a world of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity; network-building; sexual politics and seduction; court rivalries; Machiavellian intrigues and assassinations.