Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice

1st Edition

Edited by Alice E. Sanger, Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker


276 pages

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Employing a wide range of approaches from various disciplines, contributors to this volume explore the diverse ways in which European art and cultural practice from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries confronted, interpreted, represented and evoked the realm of the sensual. Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice investigates how the faculties of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell were made to perform in a range of guises in early modern cultural practice: as agents of indulgence and pleasure, as bearers of information on material reality, as mediators between the mind and the outer world, and even as intercessors between humans and the divine. The volume examines not only aspects of the arts of painting and sculpture but also extends into other spheres: philosophy, music and poetry, gardens, food, relics and rituals. Collectively, the essays gathered here form a survey of key debates and practices attached to the theme of the senses in Renaissance and Baroque art and cultural practice.


'Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice offers important new insights into the complementary relation between vision and the other corporeal senses. The authors bring their expertise to bear on the "collaborative functions" amongst the five senses and on the ways such mutual functions were conceived, represented, and experienced in the literary and pictorial arts.' Walter S. Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History, Emory University; Foreign Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

'The volume succeeds rather well in presenting various interrelationships between vision and her sister senses as they are intended to affect the person viewing, listening, tasting, touching, or smelling. And it is a pleasure to read.' Renaissance Quarterly

'A strength of the collection is its attentiveness to the non-visual senses; the willingness to consider the varied and reciprocal roles that hearing, touch, smell, and taste play in early modern art is fresh and revealing.' Journal of the Northern Renaissance

'Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice is an important contribution to sensory studies and the history of art. All of the essays adroitly capture the essence and quiddity of the arts discussed and beautifully convey how this sensate reading can have larger implications for repositioning the plastic arts as synesthetic.' Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: making sense of the senses, Alice E. Sanger and Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker; Part I Contemplating the Senses: The trouble with odours in Petrarch's De Remediis, Alessandro Arcangeli; Natural magic, artificial music and birds at Francesco I de'Medici's Pratolino, Suzanne B. Butters; Sight, science, and the still-life paintings of Juan Sánchez Cotán, Mindy Nancarrow. Part II Sustaining Body and Soul: Sensing death: the danse macabre in early modern Europe, Sophie Oosterwijk; Peeling the onion: experiencing the senses in Bronzino's burlesque poem La cipolla, Robert W. Gaston; Appetites: food, eating and the senses in 16th-century Italy, Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker; The Villa Pamphilj on the Janiculum hill: the garden, the senses and good health in 17th-century Rome, Susan Russell. Part III Sensual Encounters: Thematizing vision in the Renaissance: the noli me tangere as a metaphor for art making, Lisa M. Rafanelli; Touching looks: masculinizing the maternal-feminine in Poussin's Tancred and Erminia, Phillippa Plock; In the hand of the beholder: Isabella d'Este and the sensual allure of sculpture, Geraldine A. Johnson; Sensuality, sacred remains, and devotion in Baroque Rome, Alice E. Sanger; Bibliography; Index.

About the Editors

Alice Sanger and Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker.

About the Series

Visual Culture in Early Modernity

A forum for the critical inquiry of the visual arts in the early modern world, Visual Culture in Early Modernity promotes new models of inquiry and new narratives of early modern art and its history. We welcome proposals for both monographs and essay collections that consider the cultural production and reception of images and objects. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to, painting, sculpture and architecture as well as material objects, such as domestic furnishings, religious and/or ritual accessories, costume, scientific/medical apparata, erotica, ephemera and printed matter. We seek innovative investigations of western and non-western visual culture produced between 1400 and 1800.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / History / Renaissance