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Engaging with Sienese Painting through time
Lecture by Joanna Cannon
Given at the Courtauld Institute of Art on February 12, 2019
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 is Professor in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her books included Religious Poverty, Visual Riches: Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (Yale University Press, 2013) and Trade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700 (Archetype, 2010). .
Top Image: Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi – The Annunciation and Two Saints