Beyond Disegno: Professional Identity and Material Experimentation in mid 16th-century Italian Portraiture

Dr. Elena Calvillo, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Richmond

Date: 5:30-7pm, 17th August 2017

Venue: Lecture Theatre C (Room 124), Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic, 3010

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By 1531, the Venetian artist Sebastiano del Piombo had resettled in Rome after the Sack, received a lucrative sinecure as the keeper of the papal seals and won acclaim for his method of painting in oils on stone supports. Two decades later, Agnolo Bronzino produced a series of portraits on tin supports while working for Cosimo I de’ Medici. This lecture examines the ways in which their innovative use of materials in portraiture contributed to both the painters’ and patrons’ identities, and how it made claims of originality and invention that might otherwise be denied to artists who excelled in the portrait genre.

Elena Calvillo’s research and writing focus on artistic service and imitative strategies in sixteenth-century Italy, Spain and Portugal. She is interested in the role of artist’s materials, in theories of representation, and in cultural translation and brokerage, and is currently completing a monograph on the career of Giulio Clovio at the court of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Her co-edited volume on the technique of oil painting on stone will be published by Brill in early 2018; and she is now working on a book-length project that examines how artists experienced and reproduced the canonical forms of early modern Rome in novel or precious media, as well as how collectors outside of Italy received and valued these artistic translations.