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Portraying the Prince of the Church: Cardinal Portraits in Early Modern Europe 1431-1621

Posted By Piers Baker-Bates, Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cardinal portraits have been analysed primarily in terms of the artists who painted them or within the broader genre of portraiture.  No more profound investigation of these as a specific phenomenon has ever been attempted.  The questions surrounding the production, collection and status of the Cardinal portrait are particularly relevant in the light of the Brill Companion to the Early Modern Cardinal, to be published early next year.  Our session aims to cover all portrait media and invites papers that could address the following themes:

—the evolution and development of the Cardinal portrait and its relationship to papal portraiture?  The possibilities offered by the Cardinal portrait for promotion of a dynastic heritage?

—role playing: group portraits, the Cardinal at work, the Cardinal as donor?

—what was the impact of the Council of Trent on the Cardinal portrait?

—were there artists who specialised in the Cardinal portrait?

—issues surrounding collection and display of the Cardinal portrait, in both public and private settings; questions of status?

—dissemination of the Cardinal portrait as copies, gifts and prints?  The role of the Cardinal portrait in decorative programmes and series?

—questions of centre and periphery, differing priorities as reflection of geographical origin e.g. Roman baronial families: the global Cardinal portrait?

—Cardinal portraits as ex voto and relic; material culture and the Cardinal portrait?

Cardinals tombs have been much more discussed and are outside the scope of our enquiry unless they contain a bust or painted portrait within them or are painted themselves.  150 word proposals and a brief Curriculum Vitae should be sent to Piers Baker-Bates ( and/or Irene Brooke ( by Wednesday 31st May.

Tags:  Art History  Cardinals  Early Modern  Portraits  Renaissance 

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