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The Spiritual Dimensions of the Early Modern Italian Portrait

Posted By Margaret A. Morse, Monday, April 25, 2016

The independent portrait in early modern Italy has traditionally been interpreted as evidence of the birth of modern individualism and a hallmark of an emerging secular age. This session aims to reassess this traditional reading of the portrait and explore the possible spiritual dimensions of the art form during the period in which it grew in popularity. The portrait had long been tied to religious art and sacred contexts that may have shaped the production and reception of this art form in the early modern period, as well as perceptions of identity. Paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

·         Portraits with overt or hidden religious objects and symbols

·         Portraits of lay individuals in the guise of saints and religious figures

·         The original display context of portraits

·         The relationship of portraiture to contemporary spiritual texts

·         The religious dimensions of commemoration and the related role of portraiture

·         Conventions in portraiture as signs of religious identity

·         The lasting influence of portraiture’s historical relationship with sacred imagery (icons, ex-votos, donor portraits, etc.)

Please send your paper title, abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, and a brief CV to Margaret Morse ( by May 20, 2016.

Tags:  identity  portrait  portraiture  religion  spirituality 

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