Pre/Early Modern Forum: Sarah K. Kozlowski (Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History)

Thursday, April 4, 2024 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Loria Center for the History of Art LORIA, 351
190 York Street
06511 New Haven , CT

This talk centers on the Diptych of Delphine de Signe, a two-part panel painting made in the 1330s or early 1340s for a Provençal aristocrat and radical Franciscan tertiary at the Angevin court of Naples, and since 1986 housed at the J. Paul Getty Museum. If the diptych now in Los Angeles emerged from a web of patrons, painters, and paintings on the move across the fourteenth-century Mediterranean (as I showed in my recent book), Delphine de Signe’s early engagement with the work would have involved movements across much shorter distances: grasping and holding, opening and closing, cradling and steadying, sliding in and out of a custom case. As part of a new project, this talk repositions the Diptych of Delphine de Signe at the convergence of three themes: women’s patronage and use of artworks in fourteenth-century Europe; the formats and materials of portable, manipulable works made of wood; and physical interactions between these works and their beholders through movement and touch. How did the format, materials, and program of our diptych invite and structure the physical interaction of its first beholder, and how did this encounter create meaning? To approach this question, I bring to bear several kinds of evidence: primary sources for Delphine’s life and career, object-led narrative of how Delphine would have engaged with her diptych, technical study of its materials and traces of its use, medieval ideas about touch and tactile practices, and the properties and cultural meanings of wood. In so doing, I set out the stakes of a larger project on touch, movement, and transformation in fourteenth-century diptychs.

Arts and Humanities
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