Renaissance Work-in-Progress seminars

Illustrating Love Poetry in the Italian Renaissance: From Miniatures to Portraits

Moving from the practical and theoretical issues involved in the process of ‘illustrating’ lyric poetry as opposed to narrative poetry or prose, this talk will focus on the evolution of visual paratexts from miniatures in Medieval chansonniers to woodcuts and engravings in printed editions of Petrarch and 15th-century poets such as Antonio Tebaldeo and Olimpo da Sassoferrato. These images will be discussed alongside a relevant selection of poems and a number of early 16th-century paintings that are sometimes identified as ‘lyric portraits’ (Koos 2006; Macola 2007). The ambiguous and highly debated status of the latter will be explored in the light of poetic tropes and motifs.


Federica Pich is Lecturer in Italian at the University of Leeds and currently Mellon Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute. She studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, where she gained her PhD in 2006. Her research work has focused mainly on lyric poetry, Ludovico Ariosto, and the relationship between literature and visual arts in the Renaissance. She published a monograph, I poeti davanti al ritratto. Da Petrarca a Marino (2010), and edited an annotated anthology of poems on portraits, in collaboration with Lina Bolzoni (Poesia e ritratto nel Rinascimento, 2008). She combines an interdisciplinary approach to the study of topoi and the history of culture with a strong interest in paratextual devices, commentary and self-commentary in the Renaissance, and the theory and history of literary genres.

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4 May 2016

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London