Displacement and Reconfiguration: The Effects of the Florentine Guasto of 1529 on Devotional Spaces and Networks of Artistic Patronage

Chiara Capulli, MPhil

What objects do religious communities take with them when leaving their homes in a time of upheaval? What do they choose to save from ruin and how do these objects perpetuate their collective memory? My research project examines the consequences of a crucial and yet understudied event in Florentine history, the 1529 Guasto, to the architectural and artistic heritage of prominent religious houses. The Guasto – ordering the destruction of all buildings within a mile of the city walls – caused a vast movement of people and goods, dramatically impacting the urban fabric, and social patterns across the city. Combining traditional methods with the tools of Digital Art History, I investigate the displacement of religious communities and their belongings, as well as their reinstatement within new contexts. Further, I position my work within the research area of post-catastrophe cultural heritage, which considers not only social, liturgical and artistic factors but also questions of collective memory and affect as central for understanding how displaced communities attempted a selective preservation of their material and visual heritage when reconstructing their identity after the Guasto.

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