De re vestiaria. Antiquity and Fashion during the Renaissance
Damiano Acciarino is a lecturer in Italian Literature at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia. He works on Renaissance Antiquarianism, on which he has published many articles on international academic journals, one edited volume, and three monographs. Former Marie Curie fellow at the University of Toronto, he is a member of the research group “Levant Antiquarianism in European History and Literature (1500-1850),” coordinated by the Haifa Center for Mediterranean History in the University of Haifa, and part of the advisory board of the Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History.
The purpose of this project is to retrace the history of the treatises on ancient clothing written during the Renaissance, to identify as many works as possible and describe their different approaches so as to include them in the broader context of the history of ideas. During the Renaissance many catalogues of clothes and fashion were published throughout whole Europe, some of which featured elements deriving from antiquity, sometimes in a transcontinental perspective. However, this interest in ancient garments, which stemmed from the wider spectrum of antiquarian erudition, can be dated to a precise timeframe when some of the most important scholars and artists of the period produced significant treatises that gave rise to the rich genre de re vestiaria. The early modern scholars who studied ancient clothing approached the question from two different starting points: the first was a focus on literary sources, which involved identifying any written references to a specific garment from which its form or function could be understood; the second was a focus on material sources, which were composed mainly of ancient archaeological findings such as statues, bas-reliefs, gems, cameos, fresco paintings, and coins, all of which often featured clothed figures. By merging these two areas of research, they were able to assign names to the garments mentioned or represented and give them shape according to their written description or appearance on an artefact.