Research & Publication Grants
Chair Kimberly Dennis (2019) leads the Awards Committee that awards travel and research grants to Italian Art Society (IAS) members engaged in the study of Italian art and architecture from prehistory to the present. The current Committee Members are Sally Cornelison (2017), Christian Kleinbub (2019), Jessica Maier (2019), and Judith Steinhoff (2017). Applicants for IAS and IAS/Kress grants must be IAS members at the time of application and upon receipt and use of the award. Members who have received an IAS award in the past two years are not eligible to apply. IAS officers and committee members are not eligible to apply.
IAS DISSERTATION RESEARCH GRANTS: The Italian Art Society is pleased to announce our second annual competition for the IAS Dissertation Research Grants. Two grants of up to $1000.00 will be available to subsidize research, travel, or other expenses relating to dissertation research. One of these grants is generously funded by the Peter Fogliano and Hal Lester Foundation, for projects concerning art and architecture in Italy between ca. 1300 and ca. 1650. The Fogliano/Lester Foundation Dissertation Research Grant will be selected from the pool of IAS Dissertation Research Grant applications. No special application is necessary. The competition is open to doctoral students of any nationality who have not received an IAS award in the past two years. Applicants for IAS grants must be IAS members at the time of application and upon receipt and use of the award. IAS officers and committee members are not eligible to apply. Please send proposals to Awards Committee Chair, Kimberly Dennis, at email@example.com. The deadline for our winter 2017 grants has now passed.
IAS RESEARCH & PUBLICATION GRANTS: The Italian Art Society is pleased to announce our competition for the IAS Research & Publication Grants. Two grants of up to $1000.00 will be available to fund or subsidize a research trip or a publication (e.g., for purchasing image rights or as a publication subvention) on any aspect of Italian art and architecture from prehistory to the present. One of these grants is generously funded by the Peter Fogliano and Hal Lester Foundation, for projects concerning art and architecture in Italy between ca. 1300 and ca. 1650. The Fogliano/Lester Foundation Research & Publication Grant will be selected from the pool of IAS Research & Publication Grant applications. No special application is necessary. The competition is open to scholars of any nationality holding the Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree. Members who have received an IAS award in the past two years are not eligible to apply. Applicants for IAS grants must be IAS members at the time of application and upon receipt and use of the award. IAS officers and committee members are not eligible to apply. Please send proposals to Awards Committee Chair, Kimberly Dennis, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for our winter 2017 grants has now passed.
Current Research & Publication Grant Recipient for 2016
Amy Neff, University of Tennessee, A Soul’s Journey into God: Art, Theology, and Devotion in the Supplicationes variae (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 25.3). Read abstract
The Supplicationes variae, dated 1293, is one of the most complex and enigmatic illuminated manuscripts that survives from an important transitional period in medieval culture, when profound changes in religion and art helped pave the way to the Italian Renaissance. My book will be the first comprehensive study of the Supplicationes, an anthology of religious texts accompanied by full‐color illuminations and a highly unusual feature: forty-eight full-page, tinted drawings, three introducing the manuscript and forty-five at the end, picturing the Life of Christ and iconic images of the Trinity and saints. No other deluxe, illuminated prayer‑book of this type survives from Duecento Italy. With a focus on significant interplays between art and religion, study of the Supplicationes reveals unsuspected richness and depth of thought in Duecento manuscript illumination.
My book’s title reflects the manuscript’s profound affinities to a Franciscan classic written in 1259, Saint Bonaventure’s Soul’s Journey into God. Although the Supplicationes does not include or illustrate this text, the manuscript functions as the site for performance of a Bonaventuran spiritual pilgrimage. Indeed, the Supplicationes’ texts and images can be understood only through the lens of Bonaventure’s theological, mystical and poetic concepts of salvation. Like Bonaventure’s theology, the Supplicationes is based on the idea of Christ the Center; Christ in his humanity is literally and ontologically both the mid-point of all things and the medium of redemption. And nothing less than redemption is the goal of the Supplicationes.
At the beginning of the manuscript, unique diagrams map out the soul’s journey. Then, the calendar depicts humankind in exile from God, fallen to a world of sin and ignorance. Subsequent images and readings lead the reader to ascend through progressively higher levels of prayer. Significantly, visual images at the end of the book facilitate the highest level of contemplative prayer. Text yields to image, as the viewer leafs through thirty-‐‑three full-‐‑page images of the Life of Christ. It is not coincidental that the number of scenes equals the number of years in Christ’s life, for the viewer effectively performs a non-verbal, experiential imitatio christi, following in Christ’s footsteps — a distinctively Franciscan devotion to Christ’s humanity. While this path is progressive, it also centers on Christ, pictured at the mid-point of the manuscript, there placed as the physical and theological Center.
In order to establish a theologically grounded spiritual path and engage the viewer in its journey, the Supplicationes’ artists faced the difficult challenge of creating images that effectively convey both complex ideas and vivid emotions. To do so, their innovative style is selectively naturalistic, based on the art then considered most authentically sacred, that of Byzantium. Yet they also turn to earlier German traditions of diagrammatic imagery intended to visualize abstract conceptual thought. The artists’ particular appropriation of Byzantine and transalpine art forms leads to a new attribution of the manuscript, to artists trained in Venice or Padua. Guided by a Franciscan advisor, these artists made images that served to disseminate Franciscan ideas and devotional practice beyond the confines of the Order, creating the Supplicationes for a wealthy aristocrat, possibly Manuel Fieschi of Genoa.
My book on the Supplicationes should benefit a broad, interdisciplinary academic audience, for it touches on fundamental issues in western culture, such as the origins of affective devotion and humanistic naturalism in the visual arts. These and other themes addressed in my book significantly enrich current scholarship on the art and devotional practice of late medieval Europe, most notably shedding new light on important and long-standing questions regarding Byzantine and Franciscan contributions to cultural change in the period preceding the Italian Renaissance.
Current IAS Dissertation Grant Recipient for 2016
Kelly Whitford, Brown University, “Embodying Belief: Crossing the Ponte Sant’Angelo with Bernini’s Angels.” Read abstract
In the broadest of terms, this is a project about what moves people. More precisely, I consider what moves the soul to belief by studying how architecture moves people through space, how rituals choreograph movements of the body, and how lifelike painted and sculpted objects allow viewers to be transported to another time and place. At the end of the seventeenth century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini—the most celebrated Italian artist of the day—received a papal commission to design for the Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome ten marble angels carrying the instruments of Christ’s Passion. Installed on the balustrades of the bridge, the sculptures materialized the angelic history of the site and activated this urban nexus. As the vital link between the city center and the Vatican Borgo, the bridge funneled eager pilgrims towards St. Peter’s Basilica while also serving as a setting for processions and fireworks displays. Flanked on either side by two prisons—the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tor di Nona prison—it was also a venue for public executions. In 1671, just months before the installation of Bernini’s angels was complete, the Tor di Nona, which had been closed for several years, re-opened as an opera theater and the spectacle of the stage joined the nearby spectacle of punishment. My project investigates how the expectations of those crossing the Ponte Sant’Angelo—about angels, sacred art, public executions, and performance practices— intersected with the space itself and the presence of the marble sculptures to transform their experience of the bridge.
My study grows from earlier research focused on the sculptures’ production and the role of Bernini as their designer while bringing new attention to how they transformed pilgrims’ experiences of the Eternal City. To do this, my dissertation joins two larger trends in art and architectural history that more recently have taken up the question of the body and the study of early modern angelology. In doing so, my project contributes three novel areas of research with respect to the decorative program: first, a focus on the bodily experience of encountering these sculptures; second, their angelic subject matter; and third, their location within a larger complex of ritual, execution, and theater. All three areas of research expand our understanding of the embodied encounter between artwork and beholder in the early modern era.
Bernini’s angels brought together the site’s angelic bodies, devout bodies, tortured bodies, and performing bodies. I organize the four main chapters of my study around these themes.
Scholars have noted the occurrence of public executions in this location, but have not considered what it meant to insert angels into this space. My third chapter analyzes how the sculptures of angels holding the instruments of Christ’s Passion called to passersby to meditate on the suffering and death of Christ while simultaneously invoking the history of this space as a location of punishment and imprisonment.
Several of the important primary texts that I will employ for my third chapter remain only accessible in a handful of special collections libraries. In order to complete this chapter it is necessary that I gain access to unpublished and non-circulating sources that are available in Rome. The State Archives of Rome (ASR) contain the archives of the Confraternity of San Giovanni Decollato, the lay society charged with caring for prisoners condemned to execution. The Vatican Library (BAV) contains Pompeo Serni’s Memorie a fratelli della Ven. Archiconfraternita di S. Giovanni Decollato…Per la solita praticca di aiutare a benimorire i Condennati a Morte (1653), a guide used by confraternity members to prepare prisoners prior to their executions. Additionally, the Confraternity of San Giovanni Decollato still houses a collection of religious objects and sacred art used in these rituals of execution. A Dissertation Research Grant from the Italian Art Society would allow me to travel to Rome to study these important resources in January 2017.
Current Fogliano/Lester Research Grant Recipient for 2016
Ioanna Christoforaki, Research Centre for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art of the Academy of Athens, “From Rags to Riches: Importing Cloth and Exporting Fashion between Venice and Cyprus.” Read abstract
In 1481, Leonardo da Vinci allegedly visited the Cypriot village of Lefkara, near the southern port of Larnaca, where he purchased a piece of the famous lace cloth for the main altar of the Duomo in Milan. Lefkaritiko lace-making, as it is known, is an intricate type of single-thread embroidery on linen, forming geometric designs that look exactly the same on the front and the back. In reality, the technique of Lefkara lace probably copies Italian white needlework, particularly popular in Venice during the sixteenth century.
This anecdotal story exemplifies how intertwined textile and fashion exchanges were between Cyprus and Venice. A Byzantine province until 1192, the island of Cyprus was initially ruled by the Lusignan dynasty from France (1192-1474) and later by Venice (1474-1571). Being the last Christian stronghold in the Eastern Mediterranean, it quickly became an important trade center. The two territories, however, were engaged in commercial transactions long before the former became an overseas colony of the latter. By the early fourteenth century, locally produced cotton, wool and camlet (a fine and expensive textile made from camel hair or mohair), as well as silk, were already exported to Venice. During the 15th and 16th century, the cultivation of cotton on Cyprus and its export to Venice in raw, bleached or dyed form, reached its peak.
At the same time, though, the metropolis exerted a reverse influence on the island through fashion trends. In a series of fresco and icon paintings from Cypriot churches, donor portraits, including men, women and children, are shown to wear clothes reflecting contemporary Venetian fashion. These portraits offer precious insight into the aspirations of the local elites and reveal how fashion and textiles were interwoven with notions of identity, status, and power. Up to now I have compiled a database of more than one hundred such images, which provide a rare and vivid glimpse into everyday life on Venetian Cyprus. Traditionally, they would be analyzed in terms of iconography and style, in an attempt to date them as precisely as possible. As a result, the wider cultural and social context in which such ‘works of art’ were produced is lost.
The main goal of my research project is to address issues of cultural identity and self-representation, by identifying the growing influence of contemporary Venetian fashion on Cypriot portraiture. Archival research in Venice is necessary in order to explore routes, prices and possible patterns of textile trade between the metropolis and the colony. The intrinsic material value of textiles signified wealth and authority and conveyed, in a tangible way, social and political ambitions. In a similar way, costume, both male and female, as well as dress accessories and hair styles, offer precious insights into Venetian aspirations and the cultural expansion of the Serenessima in the Stato da Mar. This perspective can only be gained by studying in situ contemporary Venetian fashion and the ways it reflects political, religious and social power, first at home and subsequently in its maritime possessions.
Current Fogliano/Lester Dissertation Research Grant Recipient for 2016
Krisztina Ilko, University of Cambridge, “Artistic Patronage of the Augustinian Hermits in Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.” Read abstract
I am a medievalist art history PhD student at the University of Cambridge, and my dissertation focuses on the early art patronage of the Augustinian friars (OSA) in central Italy, with special attention to Tuscany. The research of the last few decades has produced fruitful work on the question of the ideological background of the art patronage of mendicant orders, such as Joanna Cannon’s work on the Dominicans, or Louise Bourdua on the Franciscans. However, no sufficient attempt to study broadly this theme for the Augustinian friars has yet been done. Therefore the aim of my dissertation is to concentrate on this problem through the friaries of the Hermits in central Italy. I intend to argue that despite the historical fact that the order was created out of several hermitages around Siena in 1256 they forged a common ideological platform which can be observed in the decoration programs of their monasteries. One of the most fascinating attempts in creating this platform is how they accepted and promoted the cult of St Augustine (A.D. 354 – 430) as their founder (despite a complete lack of any historical connection), aiming to reconstitute their past and forge a particular identity. How did they attempt to monopolize his cult? And how were they promoting the cult of their other saints through art objects? These are some of the questions I am seeking to answer.
I will pay special attention to the second part of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century, which little previous scholarship on the Augustinian order has been devoted to. This is primarily explained by the lack of surviving artefacts in contrast to the abundance of the late fourteenth and fifteenth-century pieces. Consequently my research is significantly built upon archival sources. Therefore this research grant could help me observe these essential, unpublished primary sources that are available only in Italian archives. The most important sources for my dissertation are located in Rome, where the main archive of the order is situated (Archivio Generale Agostiniano), and the national archive in Florence which contains important local material. To study the early art patronage of the order I would like to observe the decoration systems of the shrines of their early blessed friars. A fourteenth-century manuscript in the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence contains a published legend collection makes mention of a number of shrines of the friars, mostly in Tuscany. Some of these churches have already perished and nothing remains from their internal decoration. Therefore I will aim to research the archival sources of the churches for finding information from what we can reconstruct the physical evidence for these shrines and the decoration of them. In the collection the shrines are mentioned mainly for saintly posthumous miracles, not their decoration, but other archival material such as documents pertaining to canonical visits may shed light on the artistic programme of these churches. Some rather remarkable artefacts, such as the polyptych by Simone Martini, which was made for upon the shrine of the Blessed Bartolomew, an Augustinian monk of San Gimignano, attests that these shrines should have been richly decorated, in some cases with artistic objects by the finest artists and workshops of their time. However, even today about such a piece as the San Gimignano altar we have very little understanding, especially how it was conceptualized and functioned in the greater scope of the propaganda of the Augustinian order. In this regard researching these archival sources and connecting them with related surviving artefacts could also shed light more broadly on new aspects of medieval mendicant art patronage, ideology, and propaganda, thus providing a comparative example to the Franciscans.
Current Research and Publication Grant Recipients for 2015 Extra Research Grant
Alison Levy, Independent Scholar, for Misfits, Monstrosities, and Madness at the Villa Ambrogiana. Read abstract
An imposing though largely ignored villa looms over Montelupo Fiorentino, an idyllic Tuscan hamlet best known for its production, during the Renaissance, of maiolica, brightly painted tin-glazed earthenware celebrated the world over. Yet ominously punctuating this historic landscape is the fortress-like Villa Ambrogiana, a former Medici hunting compound that also contained a menagerie and laboratory, which has served, without interruption since the mid-nineteenth century, as a psychiatric prison. Reading the Ambrogiana as a platform for perverse conquest and experimentation over half a millennium, Misfits, Monstrosities, and Madness at the Villa Ambrogiana complicates the relationship between the built environment and civilization. Indeed, rethinking the agency of architecture, this project asks how buildings not merely affect, or influence, human behavior but infect it as well. The Villa Ambrogiana, located just west of Florence on the road to Pisa, sits at the confluence of the Arno and Pesa rivers. Subject to extreme climatic conditions (namely dampness from frequent flooding and “a wind,” wrote the renowned naturalist Francesco Redi in 1673, “[that] blows there and will blow there for all eternity”), the villa itself has always been something of a misfit.
Remarkably, the Villa Ambrogiana has received little scholarly attention, with only a handful of publications, all in Italian, devoted almost exclusively to the design and function of the building during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Misfits, Monstrosities, and Madness will be the first book-length study of the Ambrogiana in English and the first to study the compound from its inception to the present day. Primary sources and material objects range from ducal taxidermy collections to representations by court painter Bartolomeo Bimbi of the animal specimens collected and displayed on-site (including portraits of two-headed animals); from the writings of Francesco Redi, who directed a studio-museum of natural history in the villa’s loggia, to nineteenth- and twentieth-century ‘cures’ for the patient-prisoners of the Ambrogiana. Levy’s analysis draws upon an array of critical theory and seminal scholarship on identity, relationships, spaces, and representations. Art and architectural historians will find an introduction to a remarkable body of work that is virtually unknown in the field. But even beyond this, Misfits, Monstrosities, and Madness, positing a concept of ‘prisoner of place’ and calling into question the very meaning of the term madhouse, will foster new ways of thinking about bodies and the built environment, also for colleagues working in anthropology (especially environmental anthropology), cultural studies (including animal and monster studies), history, literature, psychology, and the social histories of science and medicine. Thus, reaching across disciplinary and historical boundaries, this project ultimately attends to such timeless and universal concerns as the fluidity of illness, the ethics of experimentation, and the efficacy of incarceration. Levy will use her IAS award to subsidize a five-week research trip to Florence in November–December 2015; her focus will be on archival research in the Archivio di Stato.
Johanna Heinrichs, Dominican University, for Mobile Lives, Stable Homes: The Palladian Villa between City and Country. Read abstract
The IAS Research and Publication grant will enable me to travel to Venice and the Veneto to carry out research for my book manuscript, tentatively titled Mobile Lives, Stable Homes: The Palladian Villa between City and Country. The book grows out of my dissertation on the patronage of the Venetian nobleman Francesco Pisani, a patron of Paolo Veronese who also commissioned Andrea Palladio’s Villa Pisani at Montagnana (1553-54). My manuscript focuses on this example as the basis for a reassessment of the Palladian villa and its place in the sixteenth-century Venetian world. Modern scholars have viewed the country house throughout history as a satellite. Dependent on urban capital, culture, and values, the Renaissance villa, like the ancient Roman villa, has been defined by the subsidiary role it played to the city and the urban palace. Palladio’s villas for the elite of Venice and the Veneto, moreover, are taken as paradigmatic examples of this building type. My book challenges the understanding of the Veneto villa as merely a “second home.”
A more complex picture has emerged from my research on Villa Pisani, which examines the villa phenomenon through the lens of private life and the individual patron. For Francesco Pisani, the country estate occupied a central place in his life and livelihood. Even as it fulfilled certain functions associated with villeggiatura (country life), such as agriculture and entertainment, it was not just a seasonal retreat. Despite its distance from Venice, Villa Pisani constituted Pisani’s principal residence as well as a source of wealth. Both the design and the selection of its site reflected this multiplicity of functions.
A Venetian commonplace asserted that “to live outside Venice is not to be alive.” But some Venetians apparently did find it advantageous to live outside Venice, and my project investigates Venetians’ relationship to their mainland estates. It is notable that several of Palladio’s most important Venetian patrons did not own a family palace in the city. Like Francesco Pisani, they moved through a series of rented palaces in the metropolis and led a mobile lifestyle divided between Venice and the mainland. They required a country house that befit their noble status, and their Palladian villa came to serve as the family’s stable residence, rather than as a secondary, seasonal home. My book seeks to demonstrate that Villa Pisani is not an outlier among Palladio’s celebrated villas. This IAS grant will help me to expand the scope of my archival research beyond the Pisani to other Palladian patrons and villas. With a fuller picture of these patrons’ lives, I will argue that Palladio’s innovations in villa design were accompanied by a reconceptualization of the functions of the villa type itself.
Past Research and Publication Grant Recipients
2015. Catherine R. Carver, University of Michigan / Wayne State University, for “Mapping Mark and Erasure: Siting Parish Architecture in Medieval Rome.” Read abstract
This project investigates the parish churches of medieval Rome, a much neglected but significant architectural and social phenomenon that determined the urban landscape of the city. Small, and sometimes inelegant, these basilicas rose up across Rome in great numbers in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, serving the daily needs of the city’s inhabitants. By 1300, Rome had three hundred parish churches; the more populated city of Florence, by contrast, had only fifty-seven.
The parish church created the sacred space in which Rome’s local populations did their praying, living, and dying. They were the site of local Mass and the celebration of major and minor feasts of the Roman calendar. Supplication to saints could occur not only at the high altar that contained relics of the titular saint, but also at secondary altars and chapels within the church. Markers of local devotion, these churches were often small, with single entry points and four or five bays. Their modesty, however, does not negate their highly public character. Situated on public roads, they had a significant presence in their respective quarters of the city. The simplicity of their facades, marked as they are by large expanses of brick with exterior articulation limited to apertures breaking the façade plane, immediately distinguished these structures from their secular architectural neighbors. This visual articulation of the space and status of the parish church was enhanced by their campanile, which not only served as an extension of the height of the structure, but also added an aural component in the rhythm of life in their quarter of the city. The parish church, though small and unassuming, shaped the very fabric of Rome’s topography.
Despite the abundance, this échelon of monument has received scant scholarly attention. My research has revealed that of the three hundred medieval parish basilicas of Rome, ninety-one are extant in some physical form. For the past three years, I have worked with research assistants through the University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program to map most of the extant structures, marked with green dots on the image above, and the non-extant sites, as part of a larger project that contextualizes medieval parish architecture within Rome’s urban development. We have also had the opportunity to document through measurement and photography the physical state of half of the extant parish churches. This preliminary set of measurements suggests that the structures may have been built on a standard modular system. Our photo documentation has captured their presence on today’s urban landscape. Some maintain their medieval ethos; others have received dramatic renovations in later centuries; still others have been deconsecrated and put to secular use or simply abandoned. Indeed, the study of the extant parish churches not only reveals the manner in which these structures shaped the physical topography of medieval Rome, but also bears witness to the post-history of medieval ecclesiastical space in Rome’s urban development. Funding from the IAS Research and Publication Grant would allow me to complete the documentation of the extant monuments and continue my research in Rome, a crucial step in the larger book project, Urban Piety: Medieval Parish Architecture in Rome’s Tiber Bend.
2014. Danielle Carrabino, Lecturer, Rhode Island School of Design, illustrations for her book, Caravaggio and the Caravaggesque in Sicily, under review. Read abstract
Carrabino’s book, Caravaggio and the Caravaggesque in Sicily is the first examination in English of Caravaggio’s little documented sojourn in Sicily between 1608 and 1609. It takes an in-depth look at the paintings the artist created during a tumultuous and obscure moment in his life through an examination of his network of patrons and the distinct cultural conditions in which he was painting. The four public altarpieces Caravaggio created in Sicily remain a testament to his time on the island, but also account for the legacy of followers he left in his wake. Through Carrabino’s study of an already well-known artist, readers will also learn about Sicily as an important center of artistic production during the seventeenth century.
Arriving in Sicily as a wanted murderer and an escaped prisoner, Caravaggio remarkably enjoyed uninterrupted patronage on the island through his network of Roman patrons. Carrabino’s book focuses on the four public altarpieces Caravaggio painted in Sicily, the least studied of his oeuvre, which were created to decorate high altars in churches in Syracuse, Messina, and Palermo. Rather than isolating the Sicilian paintings from his previous works, she considers these paintings as a continuation of Caravaggio’s earlier career. With the exception of the unfortunate theft of the Palermo Nativity in 1969, these large-scale altarpieces still remain in Sicily. Their remote location and size has prevented them from being examined more carefully by scholars outside of Sicily. Another major obstacle for scholars has been the three major Sicilian earthquakes in 1693, 1783, and 1908, accounting for the devastating loss of other paintings Caravaggio created in Sicily as well as precious archival materials to document the artist’s presence there.
Carrabino’s book is aimed at both a scholarly and general audience but also will be a useful source for students who are presently unable to study this moment in Caravaggio’s life and the works he created in Sicily due to the lack of any book on the subject in English. In addition to filling a gap in the vast literature concerning Caravaggio, Carrabino’s book will also be fundamental to introduce the study of Early Modern Sicily to an English-speaking audience. Sicily has too long been excluded from the literature concerning European painting and this book will be one of the first to acknowledge its unique position in the history of seventeenth-century art. Although the four extant paintings Caravaggio created in Sicily have been published in exhibition catalogs and monographs, the works by his Sicilian followers remain largely unpublished.
2014. Allie Terry-Fritsch, Associate Professor, Bowling Green State University, research in Florence for her book, Somaesthetics and the Renaissance: Viewing Bodies at Work in Early Modern Italy, under review. Read abstract
Terry-Fritsch will use her 2014 IAS Research and Publication Grant to continue and complete the necessary research for her book manuscript, Somaesthetics and the Renaissance: Viewing Bodies at Work in Early Modern Italy. The aim of the manuscript is to reanimate early modern practices of viewing by connecting the active early modern body (soma) to the early modern experience of visual and other sensory encounters (aesthesis). As this book argues, the vibrant artistic culture of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in central Italy, a period and place marked by an intense focus on the crafting of the body and mind in both public and private spheres, is best understood through an investigation of the self-conscious performative engagement of its beholders. It asks how the visual culture of the Renaissance in Italy anticipated the ways in which viewers manipulated and shaped their bodies to enhance the aesthetic encounter and traces how investigation of such body-mindfulness can open new avenues for research within the discipline of art history.
Terry-Fritsch will use her IAS grant to support onsite research in Italy for Chapter Three of the book, which is focused on the Florentine experience of pilgrimage to San Vivaldo, the so-called “New Jerusalem” built in central Tuscany between 1501 and 1513. Although important secondary sources pertaining to Renaissance pilgrimage practices are accessible in the United States, the execution of this chapter requires first-hand examination of the architectural and decorative program of San Vivaldo and exploration of archival holdings and consultation of hard-to-find publications in select research libraries in Florence. Terry-Fritsch has received permission to have liberal access to the terracotta altarpieces and architectural structures of San Vivaldo and to photograph the entire site. In addition to onsite examination, she has made arrangements to meet a member of the restoration team that worked for three years on the cleaning of the terracotta sculptures. Terry-Fritsch will be investigating textual sources in the Biblioteca dei Frati Minori Francescani di Firenze, the archive for all documents pertaining to San Vivaldo and its history. In addition, the Kunsthistorisches Institut (KHI) in Florence contains several publications critical to her project, including the full run of the journal Miscellanea Storica della Valdelsa, a primary publication venue for early twentieth-century Italian scholarship on the site that is virtually inaccessible in the United States. She will also use the libraries of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti).
2013. Felicia Else, Associate Professor, Gettysburg College, research in Florence for her book, The Politics of Water in the Art and Festivals of Medici Florence: From Neptune Fountain to Naumachia (contracted with Ashgate Press). Read abstract
Else used her 2013 IAS grant for a final trip to the State Archives of Florence to complete research for the first comprehensive book exploring the theme of water in the age of the Medici Grandukes of Florence. Unlike coastal cities such as Genoa and Venice, Florence had no strong tradition of water-related imagery and maritime prowess. Else’s book tells the dynamic story of one dynasty’s struggle with water, to control its flow and manage its representation. The theme of water brings together different fields of research, including Art History, Festival Studies, Urban Studies, Engineering, Geography, Natural History and the study of Islam and the Mediterranean. While scholars have noted the importance of water to particular projects, there has not been a monograph dedicated to the subject in its full range and complexity from high to low culture, whether in the aestheticized court culture of elaborate grottoes and pageant floats or in the more banal needs of the broader citizenry, subject to urban legislation, flood damage, and quarrels with fishermen. Titled The Politics of Water in the Art and Festivals of Medici Florence: From Neptune Fountain to Naumachia, the book pivots on two well-known water-related Medici creations, Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Neptune Fountain (1560-1574), the first public fountain in Florence since antiquity, and the Naumachia, or naval battle, staged by Ferdinando I in the courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti for his wedding to Christine of Lorraine in 1589.
This study analyzes how the Medici progressed from its first water-related initiatives under Cosimo I to its full realization with Ferdinando I, tasks that required unprecedented resources as well as an imaginative leap on the part of the Grandukes and their artists and engineers. Chapters explore the artistic, political and cultural circumstances of water-related subjects: the emergence of Neptune in Florence; the impact of fountains and aqueducts; the proliferation of river gods and geographic personifications; the circulation of bounties of sea like coral, pearls and fishes; and representations of ports, naval battles and Turks. Underpinning the importance of this process is the success if not survival of Medici Florence in the larger, unstable political arena of Europe. Else’s IAS Research Grant offset the cost of a research trip in July of 2013, enabling her project to proceed to the writing stage during her sabbatical year in 2013-14.
The Society for European Festivals Research approved her book proposal to serve as the first monograph in a series of publications on European Festival Studies: 1450–1700, and a contract has been issued with Ashgate Press as part of its Art and Visual Studies list. Research in Florence focused on unpublished documents on the impact of water and Florentine daily life in the State Archives of Florence, particularly from fondi not available on the online Medici Archive Project database. These include regulations for the selling and consumption of fish by the Ufficiali poi Magistrato della Grascia; river management reports of the Capitani di Parte Guelfa; documentation on wells and fountains in the Scrittoio delle fortezze e fabbriche, Fabbriche medicee; and correspondences of court ministers in the Mediceo del Principato, particularly exchanges with Bernardo Baroncelli, the provveditore of Livorno, Cosimo I’s outlet to the sea. This material from the State Archives plays a vital role in Else’s project, balancing the idealized vision of the Medici court and its prowess in art and spectacle with the problems faced in its struggle to control water and its assets.