You are here:

Hannah Lee (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow): 'Race and Materiality in Early Modern Italy: Plaster "Moors" in Venetian and Roman Household Inventories'

This paper will begin with an introduction to my postdoctoral project The Matter of Race in Early Modern Italy: 1500-1700, which explores the development of constructions of race in early modern Italy through the lens of the materials used by artists and craftsmen to represent African people. In the second half of the paper, I will focus on a group of references found in seventeenth and eighteenth- century Venetian and Roman inventories to figures of ‘moors’ made from plaster. Combining the analysis of these documentary references with visual and material evidence, the paper will discuss what these plaster figures can tell us about how ideas about race were being constructed in early modern Italian visual culture, and how their materiality can provide insight into how these ideas circulated around Italy and Europe more widely during this period.

The Work in Progress seminar explores the variety of subjects studied and researched at the Warburg Institute. Papers are given by invited international scholars, research fellows studying at the Institute, and third-year PhD students.


image: Torch holder: wood, 18th-C, Confraternita della Misericordia, Sansepolcro: Menil Archive, The Warburg Institute.