“Practising Science and Art in the Academies of Early Modernity”: Round Table
22 March 2023
Wednesday 22 March, 4:00pm Round table and presentation of two books Event in French, Italian and English
The event will be moderated by Francesca Alberti, Director of the Art History Department of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici.
With the participation of: Déborah Blocker (Berkeley University), Matthijs Jonker (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome), Dinah Ribard (L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris), Maria Pia Paoli (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), Samir Boumediene (KNIR Fellow / CNRS, Lyon).
Please consider cancelling your booking if you no longer wish to participate, so as to give others the opportunity to attend the event.
This event will not be recorded or broadcast.
Early modern academies were loci in which the arts and sciences, in the modern sense of the words, came to be institutionalized. Yet, we know very little about the daily academic activities — be they discursive or practical — in the course which the arts and sciences slowly came to take the shape that characterize them today.
Two recently published books (Déborah Blocker, Le Principe de plaisir: esthétique, savoirs et politique dans la Florence des Médicis (XVIe– XVIIe siècle), Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2022 and Matthijs Jonker, The Academization of Art: A Practice Approach to the Early Histories of the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca, Rome, Papers of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 70; Quasar, 2022) furnish us with a lot of new information on the activities of the members of three important early modern Italian academies: the academy of the Alterati and the Accademia del Disegno in Florence, and the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.
Using the reciprocal presentation of these two books by their respective authors as a springboard, three historians will subsequently expose their points of view on how to approach the activities and practices of early modern academies. Their presentations will be followed by a debate on why and above all how to retrace the discursive, scholarly and/or artistic practices of such academies, both in Europe and in colonial empires.
The participants in this roundtable practice a variety of scholarly disciplines (art history, history of science, intellectual history, history of literature and literary studies, social and political history, institutional history, etc.) and the discussion will be placed under the aegis of transdisciplinarity.
“Le Principe de plaisir : esthétique, savoirs et politique dans la Florence des Médicis (XVIe-XVIIe siècle)”, Déborah Blocker, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2022
Le Principe de plaisirexamines thediscourses and practices, which, within the Alterati of Florence allowed for the definition of new understandings and uses of the arts (philosophy, rhetoric, history, the sciences, poetry, theater, painting, music, etc.). To determine how these new understandings and uses were formalized, the book proposes an in-depth investigation of the social, institutional, and political constraints which weighed on the Alterati’s 147 members in late Medici Florence. It also reflects on how, within these constraints, the Alterati managed to create a sheltered and even secretive institutional space for themselves.
Moreover, the book retraces the localized history of this way of articulating the arts and sciences within the social, political, and institutional configuration(s) of late Renaissance Florence. More specifically, it explores the social origins and of the Alterati’s members, practically all of whom stemmed from patrician lineages in which their forefathers had resisted the coming to power of the Medici. Lastly, it studies how the discursive, social and institutional practices of the late Florentine oligarchy were reactivated and prolonged within the Accademia degli Alterati, and it investigates the role these oligarchic practices played in the definition of novel understandings and uses of knowledge, as well as of the arts, in particular as regards those views and activities which endowed the arts and the sciences with a form of autonomy, and showcased the liberties of those who practiced them.
Le Principe de plaisir is thereby an archeological investigation of how the values, practices and social and political constraints of the aristocratic élites of early modern Europe contributed to the emergence of conceptualizations of the arts and sciences to which we are currently still the heirs.
“The Academization of Art: A Practice Approach to the Early Histories of the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca”, Matthijs Jonker, Rome, Papers of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, Quasar, 2022
The Florentine Accademia del Disegno (founded in 1563) and the Roman Accademia di San Luca (founded c. 1593) were the first official art academies in Europe. In their early years these institutions performed a variety of functions, which included the organization of funerals and religious feasts, establishing and enforcing rules about the organization of workshops, teaching young painters, sculptors and architects the principles of their arts, and maintaining relationships with potential patrons.
By seeing them as crossing points of religious, guild, educational and patronage practices this book presents a multifaceted and comprehensive understanding of these academies. As such it goes beyond previous interpretations, where they were reduced to one of their activities (e.g. patronage). The book also offers the first sustained comparison of the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca.
The focus on “social practices” entails the application of insights of theories of practice to a cultural-historical research object. The development of theories of practice, especially those of Pierre Bourdieu and Theodore Schatzki, is the second objective of this study, in addition to improving the understanding of the Accademia del Disegno and the Accademia di San Luca in the early years of their existence.