Engaging with Sienese Painting through time

This lecture takes three approaches to the theme of time and Sienese painting of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.  First, focusing on a single painting, I will reflect on some of the developments in the study of Early Sienese Painting over the course of the last fifty years. Next, I will consider some of the ways in which Sienese artists manipulated time as a powerful tool with which to engage their viewers. These artists were not constrained by the need to adhere to a single, logical system.  On the contrary, the eternal and the momentary could coexist in an image, just as the instantaneous, the lengthy, and the repetitive, could all form aspects of a viewer’s experience of the same object.   This lecture will explore what the visual analysis of the works themselves might tell us about how certain Sienese images employed different aspects of time:  the immediate past, the sequential, the simultaneous,  and, in particular, anticipation.  Finally, and briefly, I will raise the question of whether the devices used in these works can still connect with viewers across a temporal gap of over seven centuries.  Can we still engage with Sienese paintings through time?

Joanna Cannon has published widely on aspects of later-medieval Italian art, especially art and the orders of friars in central Italy. Her book Religious Poverty, Visual Riches: Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, published by Yale University Press in 2013, was shortlisted for the Apollo Book of the Year award.  She was the editor, with Jo Kirby and Susie Nash, of Trade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700 (Archetype, 2010) and was the co-author, with André Vauchez, of Margherita of Cortona and the Lorenzetti (Penn State Press, 1999).  Together with Caroline Campbell of the National Gallery and Stephan Wolohojian of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she is co-curating an exhibition of Sienese Art before 1400, to be held in New York in Autumn 2021, and London in 2022.

Organised by Professor Deborah Swallow (Märit Rausing Director, The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr Alixe Bovey (Head of Research, The Courtauld Institute of Art) 

6:30pm, 12 Feb 2019

Tuesday 12th February 2019


The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, Kings Cross, London