The Spectacle of Clouds, 1439-1650: Italian Art and Theatre, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Spectacle of Clouds, 1439-1650

Italian Art and Theatre, 1st Edition

By Alessandra Buccheri


216 pages

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The studies in which history of art and theatre are considered together are few, and none to date investigate the evolution of the representation of clouds from the early Renaissance to the Baroque period. This book reconsiders the origin of Italian Renaissance and Baroque cloud compositions while including the theatrical tradition as one of their most important sources. By examining visual sources such as paintings, frescos and stage designs, together with letters, guild-ledgers, descriptions of performances and relevant treatises, a new methodology to approach the development of this early modern visuality is offered. The result is an historical reconstruction where multiple factors are seen as facets of a single process which led to the development of Italy’s visual culture. The book also offers new insights into Leonardo da Vinci’s theatrical works, Raphael’s Disputa, Vasari’s Lives, and Pietro da Cortona’s fresco paintings. The Spectacle of Clouds, 1439-1650 examines the different ways Heaven has been conceived, imagined and represented from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, crossing over into the fields of history, religion and philosophy.


'This study offers a definitive chronology and morphology of stage machinery, including the emphasis on Florence and the rewriting of the ’Baroque cloud dome’ history from Correggio to Lanfranco. There is a mine of great information throughout the book and anyone seeking to use the book selectively to learn about one monument - e.g. Cigoli's dome in Santa Maria Maggiore - will find the structural elements of each example outlined and be able to understand where such a monument stands in the larger development of dome decoration.' Ian Verstegen (University of Pennsylvania) is author of Cognitive Iconology: When and How Psychology Explains Images

'One of the main achievements of Buccheri's study is … to give the reader a real sense of the central role of theatrical entertainments during this period, and of their extraordinary appeal.' Burlington Magazine

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Cloud machinery: a heritage from the Middle Ages; Designing paradise: Brunelleschi, Leonardo, and Vasari; Platform clouds vs bubble clouds: Raphael vs Correggio; Court theatre in the 16th century: only the Medici go to heaven; Why clouds can be trouble: the challenge of foreshortening; From volume to structure: towards a new heaven; The Tuscan School in Rome in the 17th century: a struggle for identity; A burst of heaven on earth: the Glory of Saints at Santi Quattro Coronati; The triumph of Baroque clouds in art and theatre; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr Alessandra Buccheri is specialised in early Modern Italian art. She studied at the universities of Florence and Oxford, where she received her PhD. She is currently a lecturer at the Fine Art University of Palermo, Italy.

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 / Renaissance
ART / History / Baroque & Rococo