5 – Carlo Crivelli and his Contemporaries: An Alternative History of Italian Renaissance Painting
Course 5 – Summer School online
Monday 5 – Friday 9 June 2023
Dr Amanda Hilliam
Lauded by the artist Audrey Flack as a “Gothic, Baroque Super-Realist” in 1981, the Venetian painter Carlo Crivelli (c.1430-95) resists straightforward categorisation. His paintings merge traditional techniques such as the gold ground with witty effects of pictorial illusion, and as such possess both ‘medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’ characteristics. It therefore comes as little surprise that art historians since Vasari have neglected and misinterpreted his work. However, Crivelli is now witnessing a moment of recognition: a series of recent exhibitions and publications have shed new light on this most daring and technically skilled Venetian painter.
This course takes a broad view of Crivelli’s work. We shall examine his artistic origins in the Veneto and the reasons for his great success in the Marches on the Adriatic coast. The course explores his work in relation to that of his contemporaries, including Mantegna and Cosimo Tura, and considers his innovative responses to the devotional needs of his patrons, who were largely Franciscan and Dominican friars. Finally, paying close attention to the physical qualities of the paintings themselves, we shall ask what makes Crivelli’s work distinctive. His intelligent use of ornament and play on spatial dimensions deliberately counter naturalism, forcing us to reconsider existing narratives of fifteenth-century Italian art and to map out a wider context for Crivelli and his contemporaries.
N.B. This course has previously run under the title Carlo Crivelli and his Contemporaries: A Different Perspective on Fifteenth-Century Italian Art.
Dr Amanda Hilliam received her PhD in 2020 after holding a Collaborative Doctoral Award at London’s National Gallery and Oxford Brookes University. Her thesis examined image-object dynamics in the work of Carlo Crivelli and the spiritual efficacy of this representational system among the artist’s audiences in the Marche. This research informs her monograph, forthcoming with Reaktion Books, and an exhibition she co-organised at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2022). In 2018/19 she held a predoctoral position in the Prints and Drawings department at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and was in 2021 Julie and David Tobey fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies. She is an Associate Lecturer at the University of York’s art history department.