Lecture: “Giotto’s Ugliness: Art, Literature, and Pictorial Naturalism”, by Marco Ruffini, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 3rd May 2023, 17:00 GMT

That Giotto was ugly – indeed of proverbial ugliness – Boccaccio tells us in the Decameron. But was this really Giotto’s physical appearance? This paper will explain that the painter’s ugliness is a symbolic attribute of Giotto’s pictorial naturalism focused on the faithful imitation of the natural world, at the time juxtaposed to ideal beauty. Giotto’s ugliness, therefore, has more to do with Giotto’s art rather than with his own physical features. As a matter of fact, depicting an artist as an ugly individual is a recurring trope in the history of pictorial naturalism and art literature from the classical to the modern age.

Marco Ruffini is Professor of History of Art Criticism and Artistic Literature at Sapienza, University of Rome. He studied at Sapienza and the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at Dartmouth College and Northwestern University. His studies focus on theoretical and methodological issues in thinking about the arts and the history of art history.

Organised by Dr Guido Rebecchini (The Courtauld)

This is an in person event at the Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.

Register here.


Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: