This volume is the first in-depth analysis of how infirm bodies were represented in Italy from c. 1400 to 1650. Through original contributions and methodologies, it addresses the fundamental yet undiscussed relationship between images and representations in medical, religious, and literary texts.
Looking beyond the modern category of 'disease' and viewing infirmity in Galenic humoral terms, each chapter explores which infirmities were depicted in visual culture, in what context, why, and when. By exploring the works of artists such as Caravaggio, Leonardo, and Michelangelo, this study considers the idealized body altered by diseases, including leprosy, plague, goitre, and cancer. In doing so, the relationship between medical treatment and the depiction of infirmities through miracle cures is also revealed. The broad chronological approach demonstrates how and why such representations change, both over time and across different forms of media. Collectively, the chapters explain how the development of knowledge of the workings and structure of the body was reflected in changed ideas and representations of the metaphorical, allegorical, and symbolic meanings of infirmity and disease.
The interdisciplinary approach makes this study the perfect resource for both students and specialists of the history of art, medicine and religion, and social and intellectual history across Renaissance Europe.
About the Author:
John Henderson, Professor of Italian Renaissance History, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London. His most recent books include The Renaissance Hospital: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul (2006) and Florence under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City (2019).
Fredrika Jacobs, Professor Emerita, Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the author of Defining the Renaissance 'Virtuosa': Women Artists and the Language of Art History and Criticism, The Living Image in the Renaissance, and Votive Panels and Popular Piety in Early Modern Italy. Her current project is '10 objects + a shadow'.
Jonathan K. Nelson, Teaching Professor, Syracuse University Florence. His books include The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art (with Richard Zeckhauser), Bad Reception: Negative Reactions to Italian Renaissance Art (co-editor; forthcoming), and monographic studies of Leonardo da Vinci, Filippino Lippi (with Patrizia Zambrano), Michelangelo, Plautilla Nelli, and Robert Mapplethorpe.