“Is it not true that painting is the mistress of all the arts or their principal ornament? If I am not mistaken, the architect took from the painter architraves, capitals, bases, columns and pediments, and all the other fine features of buildings. The stonemason, the sculptor and all the workshops and crafts of artificers are guided by the rule and art of the painter. So I would venture to assert that whatever beauty there is in things has been derived from painting.”
Leon Battista Alberti – De Pictura, Book II, Chapter XXVI.
So runs Leon Battista Alberti’s famous claim for architects’ indebtedness to the creativity of painters. His words draw attention to the close relationship between illusionistic representations of architecture and its actual three-dimensional forms. Indeed, the prominence given to architecture within painting before and after Alberti’s lifetime has long been noted, though its presence is easily overlooked and its precise meaning often elusive. This conference for graduate students and early-career scholars will explore this relationship in all its multifaceted complexity. Conceived to complement The National Gallery’s exhibition Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting, this event will look afresh at architecture’s place within European painting and reassess established interpretations. Why were buildings included in pictorial representations? What is their purpose and what do they do for the picture? The answers to these and other questions may well uncover a far more complex interchange between painting and architecture than Alberti’s straightforward assertion would suggest.
Students and scholars working in the visual arts of the late-Mediaeval and Renaissance periods are therefore warmly invited to submit proposals for twenty-minute papers. Interdisciplinary approaches to these subjects and discoveries of current research are particularly welcome. Potential topics for consideration may include:
-The use of architecture to demonstrate perspectival devices and to structure pictorial composition.
-The adoption of elaboration, ornamentation and the ‘fantastic’ in depicted architecture.
-The use of architectural forms to visualise historical time and specific topographies within narratives.
-The theoretical discourse of perspective and its terminology within contemporaneous accounts.
-The creation of dialogues between the architecture of the painting and that of its original location.
-The use and significance of architectural frames both within paintings and surrounding them.
Whilst papers on these themes are encouraged, submissions for proposals on topics across the broader spectrum of artistic media, chronological periods and geographical locations are also welcome. Proposed papers’ titles and abstracts of 250 words, and any additional enquiries, should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 16TH June 2014. This conference, organised by Alasdair Flint, James Jago and Livia Lupi, forms part of the Galleries & Museums Research Partnerships Programme between The National Gallery, London and the Department of History of Art, The University of York.