Lecture: Leah R. Clark, Fit for the Gods: Chinese Porcelain in Duke Alfonso d’Este’s camerini (The Murray Seminars, Birkbeck) 12 Jan 2022

Wed 12th January 2022, 5:00 PM, GMT

A research paper exploring the intersections between Renaissance ‘fine art’ and material culture.

Giovanni Bellini’s Feast of the Gods is well known as one of the earliest representations of Chinese porcelain in Italy. Painted for one of the famed camerini of Duke Alfonso d’Este of Ferrara and later repainted by a compatriot, Titian, and the Ferrarese Dosso Dossi, it is often assumed that Bellini copied Chinese porcelain he had seen in his native city of Venice. Yet this talk will consider instead how Bellini may have been referencing the large porcelain collection held by the Este, housed in spaces such as the previously unknown Stanza delle Porcellane. A narrow art historical focus on the paintings destined for the camerini and their literary interpretation and programme has ignored the role of material culture (including porcelain) across the rooms. An emphasis on materials and their transformative qualities was a theme running throughout the paintings, but also in the objects of display, and in the larger interests of Duke Alfonso. Looking at the material, sensorial, and pictorial conditions of the camerini thus allows us to explore broader understandings of disegno. The inclusion of porcelain in Giovanni Bellini’s Feast of the Gods is not simply a representation of Alfonso’s porcelain collections and his interests, but rather, sets up a complex relationship between reality and fiction and the metaphoric capabilities of material culture.

To register for this lecture, please visit this site: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fit-for-the-gods-chinese-porcelain-in-duke-alfonso-destes-camerini-tickets-227624439827

Published by Dr. Blair Apgar

Blair (they/them) recently completed their PhD in History of Art at the University of York with Hanna Vorholt and Amanda Lillie. Their thesis focused on the role of Matilda of Canossa in the sociopolitical development of the Investiture Controversy, and its relationship to Matilda’s material patronage. As an early career researcher, their work aims to unpack the historiographic construction of powerful medieval women’s legacies. They are also interested in the representation of the Middle Ages in modern media such as video games.

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