Kress Lecture: Megan Holmes, New Perspectives on the Reception of Florentine Panel Painting: Interpreting Scratch Marks


Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 6:00pm to 7:30pm



Megan Holmes (University of Michigan) will deliver the seventh annual Italian Art Society/Kress Lecture. This paper will explore an understudied feature of Florentine Renaissance panel paintings: evidence of the intentional scratching, with a sharp implement, of the pictorial figuration and imagery. These scratch marks, found across a variety of genres and formats, and display contexts, can rarely be documented and or dated with any precision. Similar intentional markings can also be found in works of art in other global, historical cultures. She will argue, nonetheless, that these scored Italian Renaissance panel paintings constitute an intriguing body of historical evidence that offers insights into the dynamic and motivated manner in which people interacted with images in daily life in their religious and social practices, in public and private spaces. The practice seems to have been more widely prevalent in the fourteenth and fifteen centuries, tapering off in the sixteenth century. She will attempt to theorize and situate these scratching acts, looking at both Renaissance period perspectives and current scholarship on global “iconoclasms.” These deliberate markings are part of what Michael Camille called “the archaeology of the image and its subsequent reception” and they need to be more in evidence in collections, photographic reproductions, and the art histories that we write.