Frameworks for Meaning and Experience in the Mendicant Convent

Research Seminar

  • Date: Nov 13, 2018
  • Time: 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Andrew Chen
  • Location: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rom
  • Host: Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte
  • Contact:
Frameworks for Meaning and Experience in the Mendicant Convent
What do we mean - or, better, what should we think we mean - when we use the term 'period eye'? Baxandall famously defined it as cognitive style, encompassing the visual skills and 'habits of inference and analogy' brought to the viewing experience by people of a particular time and place.

To define the mental habits of the well-to-do male viewers of the Quattrocento, Baxandall looked to texts produced and used in that century. But what happens when the ways of seeing are not of their time, but belated? Assessment of a selection of manuscripts that entered the libraries of mendicant convents in the Renaissance reveals the tenacity and relevance of interesting older ideas about ways of seeing, the origins of art, beauty and ugliness, and the function of visual representation. Considering these in relation to the canonical works of art going up in these churches in the period brings us close to a sense of their possible meaning in reception. Focusing especially on the Chigi Chapel at Santa Maria del Popolo, this research seminar will propose some frameworks for mendicant experience and suggest some implications for art historical method.

Scientific organisation: David Zagoury

Andrew Chen
is Research Fellow in History of Art at St John's College, Cambridge. He is the author of Flagellant Confraternities and Italian Art, 1260-1610 (Amsterdam University Press, 2018), a study of the use and meaning of art in ritual context. He is currently writing a book on the contemplation of art by nuns and friars during the Renaissance.

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