Drawing Poison: The Invention and Potency of Early Modern Italian Caricature
Hollie Buttery received her first Master’s from the Department of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia in 2016 and a further Master’s from Stanford University’s Department of Art and Art History in 2018. During the 2019-2020 academic year, Hollie was the graduate intern of drawings at Harvard Art Museum. Now a PhD candidate in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, Hollie is presently writing her thesis on the emergence and origins of caricature in seventeenth-century Europe.
Hollie’s project centers on the first chapter of her dissertation: “Drawing Poison: The Invention and Potency of Early Modern Italian Caricature”, which re-defines caricature at its (contested) emergence in the seventeenth century in Italy from an image category to artistic process and tool. This re-contextualization is fundamental to an understanding of the so-called Baroque period and its impact on Western visual culture, as well as to an understanding of how genres of images can craft persuasion and maintain power. Caricature emerged from the reconfigured relationship between an artist’s body and his mind, in which the body, breaking free from Renaissance convention, came to triumph. This corporality gifted caricature an openness: a drawing could carry multiple messages and meanings, which when coupled with inherently persuasive and political humor, made caricature a powerful and even dangerous image. This shift in the drawing process, encapsulated by the caricature, will be the focus of Hollie’s work at I Tatti and provide the foundation upon which to answer the motivating question of her dissertation: why are caricatures, more than any other genre of image, so enduringly potent and dangerous?