Displaying Art in Seventeenth-Century Roman Houses

Wednesday 30 January 2013 18.00-19.30

Displaying Art in Seventeenth-Century Roman Houses

In Rome at the end of the Cinquecento members of the lower nobility, minor clergymen, professionals, artisans and shop-keepers owned hardly any painting and certainly did not collect them. Their houses might contain a single painting of the Madonna and Child, by the side of a bed, used as a tabernacle. In the span of a few decades the situation changed, so that by 1630 far more pictures could be found in many modest dwellings. Initially they were bought out of devotion, but the motivation soon changed, and at the end of the Seventeenth century the aesthetic role of paintings had become preeminent.  Landscapes and still-lives became the main decorative elements of many living-rooms, offering neither religious nor moral instruction. The talk investigates changes in pattern of display in a range of dwellings that excludes both the lowest and highest levels of Roman society.

Patrizia Cavazzini (BSR Research Fellow)