Seminar Programme

The Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London hosts our seminar on Collecting & Display. The monthly seminars take place at the Institute, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU. Seminars begin at 6.00 and last approximately one hour. 

PLEASE SEE THE CONFERENCES PAGE FOR RECENT UPDATES


PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN RECEIVING EMAILS FROM US YOU SHOULD CHECK THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN US YOUR UP TO DATE ADDRESS AND MAKE SURE THAT THE EMAILS ARE NOT GOING STRAIGHT TO SPAM.   IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES, PLEASE CONTACT collecting_display@hotmail.com

The Society for the History of Collecting has recently been formed to encourage communication among scholars in the field through its website https://societyhistorycollecting.wordpress.com and events.  The international forum Collecting and Display  will continue its activities, holding monthly seminars, organising conferences and publishing.  The two organisations are intended to be complementary.  To contact the Society please see its website or email  sochistcoll@gmail.com.

LONDON

2017

Next meeting:  WE VERY MUCH REGRET THAT THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES

(15th May  Dr Pilar Diez del Corra Corredoira :  La fissisima volontà: John V of Portugal and his model collection in the Royal Palace of Lisbon.)

12th June

Dr Lindsay Alberts will speak to us on:  Embedded Collections: The Cappella dei Principi and its Forerunners

The Cappella dei Principi at San Lorenzo in Florence, a massive space covered from floor to dome with variegated hardstones, remains the most spectacular chapel decorated in the difficult and highly expensive technique known as commesso or Florentine mosaic.  Commissioned by Ferdinando I de' Medici in 1604 as the funerary chapel for the Medici grand dukes, the cappella asserts the political, financial, and spiritual authority of the dynasty through the display of an impressive collection of rare and difficult-to-work natural specimens, literally embedded into the structure of the space itself.

While not a common decorative approach, the use of multicolored stones as a predominantly non-figurative decorative program did have precedents.  This paper examines the communicative strategies at play in early modern forerunners of the Cappella dei Principi, chapels and altars in which collections of rare stones were incorporated into larger religious structures.  Examples such as the chapel of Renée of France (Castello Estense, Ferrara), the Cappella del Perdono (Palazzo Ducale, Urbino), and the high altar of the cathedral of Vicenza demonstrate that the Cappella dei Principi drew upon a small but visually powerful tradition in Renaissance Italy that asserted political and spiritual power through the prestige of collecting.  

With its massive granducal sarcophagi, the Cappella dei Principi also proclaims dynastic authority through the display of a secondary collection, that of the collected bodies of the grand dukes themselves.  Through this strategy and in its octagonal shape, the chapel appears to draw upon the visual precedent of the Pantheon of the Kings at El Escorial.  Commissioned by Philip II in 1563, the chapel houses the bodies of almost thirty Spanish Habsburg monarchs.  Ferdinando's brother and predecessor Francesco I, himself a dedicated collector, lived at Philip's court at the time of the commission, and this paper further explores how this imperial model, no doubt of great attractiveness for the Medici dynasty, recently elevated to granducal status, was translated into a distinctly Florentine monument through the use of the local commesso technique.  

Dr. Lindsay Alberts holds a PhD in the History of Art from Boston University; she also attended University College London and Georgetown University.  She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Music at Framingham State University in Massachusetts, where she teaches introductory and early modern art history courses.  She has also taught at a number of additional universities in the Boston area and works as a lecturer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Her research focuses on politics and collecting in Florence under the Medici Grand Dukes.  Dr. Alberts’ current research, upon which her seminar is based, focuses on the relationship between materiality and authority in the Cappella dei Principi, the dynasty’s ostentatious funerary chapel at San Lorenzo, one of the most spectacular examples of Florence’s signature pietre dure medium.

Workshop Friday 7th July - full details on conference page



The Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU