Symposium on Italian Renaissance Art at The University of Melbourne

Raphael, Saint Sebastian, c.1501-02 oil and gold on wood panel, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo Legacy of Guglielmo Lochis 1866. Image via NGA website.

A symposium is to be held on 9th and 10th of March 2012 on recent research on Italian Paintings in the exhibition Renaissance currently at the National Gallery of Australia, from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo on to be held in the Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building at the University of Melbourne.

Morning Session
Chaired by Dr Christopher Marshall, The University of Melbourne

10.00 – 10.20am 
Professor Jaynie Anderson, The University of Melbourne

‘Why and what did Giovanni Morelli collect in Renaissance Art?
One of the major collectors, whose works are in Canberra for the Renaissance exhibition, is the politician, writer and connoisseur Giovanni Morelli (1816-1891).  Morelli is celebrated for the fact that he invented connoisseurship for the modern world and for the fact that Sigmund Freud claimed to have invented psychological analysis as a consequence of reading his books.  In the Risorgimento Morelli collected major works by Giovanni Bellini and Sandro Botticelli, which are now in Canberra.  This paper will examine why Morelli made a collection and why he bequeathed it to Bergamo.

Jaynie Anderson FAHA CIHA is Herald Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne, President of the International Committee of the History of Art (CIHA) and Foundation Director of the Australian Institute of Art History. She was the first female Rhodes Fellow at the University of Oxford, and has been a visiting fellow at the John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Harvard Centre for Renaissance Studies in Florence, I Tatti, and the Institut National de l’Histoire de l’Art, Paris. She was the convener of the 32nd International Congress of the History of Art, Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence, held at the University of Melbourne 13-18 January 2008.  Her most recent books include the Cambridge Companion to Australian Art(2011) and Renascence. 15th and 16th Century Paintings from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo (2011).

10.30 – 10.50am
John Payne, National Gallery of Victoria

‘Finding the True Cross
Acquired in 1953 by the National Gallery of Victoria, The Finding of the True Cross, c1516-33 by Cola dell’Amatrice has been the subject of recent technical examination, cleaning, restoration and re-framing in the Painting Conservation studio of the NGV. This paper will present the painting revealed by the process and our current understanding of its structure and history.

John Payne is Senior Conservator of Painting at the National Gallery of Victoria. He began his tertiary studies training in painting, printmaking and drawing before studying painting conservation at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now Canberra University) and the Institut Royale du Patrimoine Artistique in Brussels. He has worked with the NGV since 1982. Over his time with the NGV he has cleaned and restored numerous pictures in the collections, ranging from the 15th century. (Simon Marmion’s Virgin and Child, the anonymous Flemish Descent from the Cross) to the 20th century  (Stanley Spencers Parents Resurrecting, Louis Duffy’s Christ turning out the money lenders) with excursions into paintings of the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries.

11.00 – 11.20am
Diana Hiller, The University of Melbourne

‘… all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything’: Mantegna’s San Bernardino – veristic portrait or private devotional image?
Mantegna’s San Bernardino panel (c.1450) is not an idealized image of a venerable saint, nor does it include the usual iconographical attributes of San Bernardino (1380-1444) characteristic of the images painted for public viewing. It has been argued that the painting with its unflattering physiognomical features belongs therefore to the type of veristic portrait of the beloved preacher that filled the need of the faithful to preserve his resemblance after his death.  This paper suggests, however, that one of the naturalistic details – which is not true-to-life – is used iconographically, and that this, together with the modest size of the panel, points to a use beyond that of the simple memento.

Diana Hiller recently completed her doctoral thesis at the University of Melbourne on gendered perceptions of Last Supper frescoes in Quattrocento Florence.

11.30 – 11.50am
Alessandro della Latta, Fondazione per l’Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane – Milan and Florence

Were Italian Renaissance Artists readers?’
Many decades of studies on the relationship between art and literature from Aby Warburg, and Panofsky, until the more recent „word & image“ interactions – have implicitly raised many questions about the intellectual training of artists in the early Modern Period. As often works of art reflect a complex interweaving of literary culture, the reception of Antiquity and a fledgling humanist philology, we can interrogate their intellectual identity? In what terms did artists dialogue with humanists who were forging the image of the Renaissance artist? What might have been the cultural education enabling artists to engage with classical literature? The few survivals of the books owned by artists, a philological analysis of their writings and of  their signatures offers us valuable case studies for trying to answer these questions in order to arrive to understand better how the social and cultural status of artists evolved from the early Renaissance and the Early Modern Period

Alessandro della Latta is a research associate of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Florence, and scientific consultant to the SUM Foundation in Milan and Florence.  After graduating in Art History at the University in Pisa, he received a PhD with laude at the Istituto di Studi Umanistici in Florence (now Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane – SUM), under the supervision of Peter Cornelius Claussen of the Universität Zürich; he has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Kusthistorisches Institut in Florence, and a lecturer at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane in Florence. He collaborates with several Italian and European Museums, such as the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi in Milan and the Staatlichen Museen in Berlin.  The interdisciplinary approach of his research, connecting literature, philology and visual arts, has led him to become a member of several important research projects at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, such asOpere firmate del Medioevo e Rinascimento italiano and Emblemata, at the Centro di Elaborazione Informatica di Testi e Immagini nella Tradizione Letteraria (CTL)directed by Lina Bolzoni.  His published works include studies on Imprese as symbolic portraits and on decorative arts (appeared in the Revue de l’art). He is preparing a book on the signatures of artists and craftsmen in Florentine Renaissance.

12.00 – 2.00pm Break

Afternoon Session
Chaired by Professor Jaynie Anderson, The University of Melbourne

2.00 – 2.20pm
Dr Christopher Marshall, The University of Melbourne

Oh Brother, What Art Thou? Beauty versus Terror in Cain and Abel
Mario Albertinelli’s Cain and Abel occupies a special place in the Renaissanceexhibition in that it represents one of the relatively few examples of a dramatic narrative scene set amid an expansive landscape. In this it constitutes an important early instance of one of the two main visual traditions for this subject encountered during the Renaissance and Baroque. This paper will consider this visual emphasis, together with that of its common alternative – showing Cain and Abel locked in deadly opposition as two heroically struggling nude figures. As this paper will highlight, the subject of Cain and Abel offered artists a rich array of possibilities, allowing them access not only to the infamy of history’s first fratricide, but also to the grey areas between terror and beauty, on the one hand, and between the ideal image of the family unit versus the unbridled excesses of nature, on the other.

Christopher R. Marshall is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Museum Studies and Art History Program Chair at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His publications on museums and curatorship include the edited volume Sculpture and the Museum (2011) and chapters for Reshaping Museum Space: Architecture, Design, Exhibitions (2005), Rethinking Art History (2007), and Museum Making: Narratives, Architecture, Exhibitions ( 2012). Publications in his dual specialization in Neapolitan Baroque art, collecting and the market include chapters in Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of Seventeenth-century Italian Painters (2010),Mapping Markets in Europe and the New World (2006); The Art Market in Italy (2002); as well as articles in The Journal of the History of CollectingThe Burlington Magazine and the Art Bulletin. He has held research fellowships at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Duke.

2.30 – 2.50pm 
Carl Villis, National Gallery of Victoria

‘The National Gallery of Victoria’s newly acquired Correggio: a preliminary examination
Last July the National Gallery of Victoria acquired Correggio’s beautiful Virgin and Child with infant St John the Baptist. This newly discovered painting, which had been kept in a Swiss collection since the early twentieth century, was the first major work by the artist to appear on the open market in the past fifty years.  Conservation treatment for the painting will commence in April once a detailed technical examination has been carried out.  This short presentation will discuss some of the preliminary findings of the examination, with a particular focus on Correggio’s materials and techniques, and the current condition of the painting.

Carl Villis is a paintings conservator at the National Gallery of Victoria, specializing in the treatment of European paintings before 1800.  A graduate from the University of Canberra, Carl worked in the United States between 1991 and 1995, both in New York and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  He has also worked in central and northern Italy for the Roman conservation firm Conservazione Beni Culturali.  Since 1995 Carl has restored several key paintings in the NGV collection, including paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, and Gainsborough.  Carl teamed up with John Payne for the large-scale restoration projects of two works by Giambattista Tiepolo: The Banquet of Cleopatra (2002-03) and the Finding of Moses (2008-09).  Carl is also active in the detailed technical examination of paintings.  His technical research has resulted in the reattribution of works by Bernardo Bellotto, Louis Tocqué, and the NGV’s renaissance portrait of Lucrezia Borgia.  He is  currently in the final stages of a major conservation treatment of Nicolas Poussin’s The Crossing of the Red Sea.

3.00 – 3.40pm
Annalisa Zanni, Director of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan

‘New Research on Botticelli’s most beautiful works in Lombard Collections
During the 19th century Botticelli was rediscovered in Italy and England. In Italy this happened not only because of the extraordinary beauty of his painting, but also because it could represent a kind of national art in which recently united Italians of the Risorgimento could identify themselves. Among Botticelli’s admirers there was also Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, who was assisted, in the choice of the works for his collection, by the suggestion of an extraordinary group of advisers. The group included the art historian Giovanni Morelli.  Botticelli’s works, now in the Accademia Carrara of Bergamo, came from Morelli’s collection. In Museums in Lombardy (including the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana) are many different types of works by Botticelli such as small altar paintings, panels for private devotion, drawings and embroideries, wedding chests as well as wonderful portraits. In a recent exhibition at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum significant  discoveries in Botticelli’s use of materials and technique were presented, as in his Madonna of the Book of Poldi Pezzoli Museum. In the final layer of this work for the blue parts he used only lapis lazuli, a very precious and highly expensive ingredient indicating that it was commissioned by really prestigious patron.

Annalisa Zanni graduated in art history from the Università Statale, Milan, and later undertook postgraduate studies in medieval and modern art history at the University of Florence. She has been working for more than thirty years at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, beginning as a curator and later becoming director. At the Poldi Pezzoli she has been in charge of the educational department, conservation, research, and the restoration of the museum’s collections. Since 1992 she has been involved in the new installation of the Armoury by Arnaldo Pomodoro. In the last years she has devised important exhibitions, internal blockbusters, following two main streams as the enhancing of the collection and of the donations arrived to the Museum as well as the study and research of private collecting in Lombardy and Italy. Since1992-1993 she has been teaching the history of Goldsmith’s Art at the postgraduate History of Art at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. She has created many exhibitions, written books on Renaissance painting, Renaissance jewellery and the history of taste in 19th century, furniture, furnishings, jewellery as well as contributing many essays to the catalogues of the museum’s exhibitions.

Date: Saturday, 10 March 2012 | 10.00am – 4.00pm

Venue: Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville

Registration: Opens on Wednesday, 15 February and closes on Friday, 9 March 2012. Register online here

Enquiries: Contact Tamsin Courtney in the Faculty of Arts at or8344 8985.

For information and to register for the Public Lecture by Professor Deborah Howard at 6.30pm on Friday, 9 March 2012 visit: