Music and Visual Culture in Renaissance Italy
13-15 June 2019
Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, UK
Flora Dennis (Art History, University of Sussex)
Nicoletta Guidobaldi (Musicology, Bologna University)
Francois Quiviger (Warburg Institute)
Visual representations of music were ubiquitous in Renaissance Italy. Church
interiors were enlivened by altarpieces representing biblical and heavenly musicians,
placed in conjunction with the ritual song of the liturgy. The interior spaces of palaces
and private houses, in which musical recreations were routine, were adorned with
paintings depicting musical characters and myths of the ancient world, and with
scenes of contemporary festivity in which music played a central role. Musical
luminaries and dilettantes commissioned portraits symbolising their personal and
social investment in musical expertise and skill.
Such images both reflected and sustained a musical culture. The strategies adopted
by visual artists when depicting music in any guise betray period understandings of
music shared by artists and their clients. At the same time, Renaissance Italians
experienced music within a visual environment that prompted them to think about
music in particular ways.
This conference will address visual media relevant to music, and written discourse
revealing interactions between visual and musical practices, from the late 14th to the
early 17th century in Italy.