Speaker: Patricia Rubin (Institute of Fine Arts, New York)
With a small, but significant or rather signifying detail – pink earrings – Titian colour-coded the Africans in his paintings. This consistent marking out of difference refers, however, to fluid and fluctuating concepts of Africa and that continent’s inhabitants. Occurring in different pictorial genres (portraits, poesie, and religious paintings), Titian’s Africans play different roles and have different subject positions. In their variety they register both alterity and the complexity represented by Africa as a legendary region and a living reality in the mid-sixteenth century and for mid-sixteenth century Venetians.
Patricia Rubin is emeritus Professor of Renaissance Art at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York.
She has served as Director of that Institute, Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, founding Head of the Courtauld Institute Research Forum, and Acting Director of Villa I Tatti in Florence. She has written books on Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists and on art and society in Renaissance Florence (Giorgio Vasari: Art and History and Images and Identity in Fifteenth-century Florence), along with numerous essays and articles on related topics, including the co-authorship of the National Gallery exhibition catalogue Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s. Her research interests range from altarpiece design to humbug and art history in the nineteenth century. She has written about Raphael’s Madonna della Seggiola and Sandro Botticelli’s illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy, Anglo-American viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, tomb sculptures by Michelangelo Buonarroti and Andrea del Verrocchio (“Michelangelo’s Monkey and the Melancholy of Death”), “‘Perverse Images’: Monstrous Beauty and Monkey Business in Italian Art from Botticelli to Bronzino,” and “Dangerous Liaisons: Compromising Positions and Provocative Allusions in Bronzino’s Martyrdom of St. Lawrence.”
Image: Detail from Titian, Portrait of Laura dei Dianti, ca. 1523. Oil on canvas, Collection Heinz Kisters, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.
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