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Lying in State: The Effigy in Early Modern Italian Funerary Art ca.1400-ca.1650

Posted By Lara R. Langer, Monday, May 16, 2016

Session Sponsored by the Italian Art Society

Organizer: Lara Langer, PhD

Chair: Dr. Sheryl Reiss, President, Italian Art Society


This session seeks papers that highlight the effigy in Italian funerary art. Throughout the medieval period and most of the fifteenth century, effigies on tombs represented the deceased as they had been displayed during funeral ceremonies. This tradition changed at the turn of the sixteenth century; some were viewed as reclining, reading a book, and even “awake.” These changes continued into the seventeenth century, in which there were depictions of effigies as kneeling, “alive” figures. Artists often depicted the features of the deceased based on death masks, but in the sixteenth century some effigies took on idealized renderings of the commemorated. These dramatic changes in the production of effigies have yet to be fully addressed systematically in the scholarship, and suggest that there is more to be considered than the patron and his or her economic status. Papers may focus on issues of style and innovation: How were effigies constructed? What kinds of workshop collaboration existed in the development of an effigy monument? What do drawings tell us about the conception and implementation of effigies within a composition? Papers may also address other critical issues: What does the effigy as displayed in a state of “sleep” or “awake” signify? Were the changes in the presentation of effigies inspired by, or were responses to, known sermons or writings on the nature of one’s soul after death?

Please send a brief abstract (150 words max), a paper title (15 words max), keywords, and a brief curriculum vitae (300 words max, in outline rather than narrative form) to by May 28, 2016.

Tags:  Art History  Early Modern  Italy  Material Culture  Portraiture  Reform  religion  Religious Reform  Sculpture  Soul  Tombs 

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