Looking Up: Discovering the Characters, Chronology, and Complexities of Baroque Italian Ceiling Art
Dr. Anne Heath, Art History
Italian Baroque paintings and their iconography are fascinating topics studied by art historians and art lovers alike. While there have been many resources published about Italian fresco and panel paintings and their iconography, this information is not as readily available to students and the public as one might expect. This is due in part to the sheer volume of paintings, as well as the fact that much of this information is only available in specialized bibliography. My research brings this information together into an easy to use digital format thereby providing a publically accessible teaching tool for undergraduate students and the general public. For a research fellowship in the summer of 2016, I chose four ceiling paintings from prominent buildings in Rome, Italy; namely, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Farnese, and the church Santa Maria Maggiore in order to create iconographic maps using the platform Neatline. The paintings chosen were Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona, Divine Wisdom by Andrea Sacchi, The Loves of the Gods by Annibale Carracci, and the Baptistry painting in Santa Maria Maggiore, artist unknown. I conducted fieldwork in Rome photographing the frescos and giving greater physical context to the paintings and observing lesser-known details. I also assembled the iconography from a variety of dispersed sources, paying particular attention to the lesser-known and often unpublished symbolism of minute features in the paintings, especially non-iconic details. Using DSLR photography, Omeka hosting, and Neatline, I created digital interactive maps of these ceilings that allows the viewer to hover over different parts of each ceiling and learn the different characters, motifs, and other interesting features, while also providing additional information on the buildings and artists in a traditional website format. The resulting maps provide scholarly knowledge in a digestible format that is simple to use and engaging for non-specialists.
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