In the second half of the sixteenth century, after a period of expansive development, sculpture as a medium entered a phase of declining critical fortune relative to painting. The reasons for this critical denigration, however, have never been adequately explained. This talk will probe the causes and nature of this shift through the examination of several emblematic episodes from the Florentine ambit. Evidence for changing perceptions of sculpture’s materials, techniques, and formal characteristics points to the incompatibility of a Florentine and Michelangelesque paradigm for sculptural practice with the political and religious imperatives of the later sixteenth century. These developments set the stage for a radical reconceptualization of the medium of sculpture in the century that followed.
Estelle Lingo is Associate Professor of Early Modern European Art at the University of Washington in Seattle and a specialist in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sculpture. Her book François Duquesnoy and the Greek Ideal (2007) reconstructs the contribution of Duquesnoy’s Roman circle to the coalescence of the Greek ideal within European culture. She has published and lectured widely on the theory, criticism, practice, and materiality of sculpture, with a particular emphasis on the historical interpretation of style. Her research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Villa I Tatti, and the Kress Foundation. She is a Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti in Spring 2016.