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Open access to ‘Political Freedom’ collection

02/09/2016 in British Isles, Eastern Europe, Germany, Italian Peninsula, Media, officeholding and local government, Parish Research Today, The Alpine Territories

Front Cover Pic WebThe full text of the essay collection Politische Freiheit und republikanische Kultur im alten Europa (Vitznau, 2015) is now accessible online. Published last year to mark the bicentenary of the (temporary) restoration of the Swiss parish republic of Gersau in 1814, the volume includes studies of political freedom in Austrian, Swiss, German and Italian communities, thematic surveys of republican thought and constitutional conflict alongside two contributions in English: Ann Hughes on ‘Gender and Republicanism’ and Marc Lerner on ‘William Tell – The Material Culture of a Freedom Myth’. If you’d rather have a hardcopy, just drop me a line!

PARISHES AND MIGRATION IN THE SWISS CANTON OF TICINO

08/07/2015 in archeology and architecture, art and imagery, genealogy and family history, households and the domestic environment, Italian Peninsula, landscapes and pilgrimage, Mediterranean, Other, Parish Research Today, Parish sources, preservation and memory, Projects, ritual, devotion and religious change, The Alpine Territories, towns and urban environment

When I visit the numerous churches and chapels in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland located south of the Alps, I am always struck by their extraordinary artistic and historical richness. One explanation is the flourishing of devotions and religious art which characterised most Catholic countries after the Council of Trent. This is certainly true especially in the Italian area, to whose cultural sphere the Ticino belonged (even though it fell under Swiss political control in the sixteenth century), but there are other reasons. In fact, a crucial further factor needs to be considered: migration. On the one hand, over the centuries, thousands of people associated with the building trades left their homes in the Lake Lugano region to practice their skills as architects, masons, master builders, stucco workers, stonecutters, sculptors and painters abroad. This phenomenon was generally seasonal and whilst staying in their villages, the artisans helped to build or embellish churches and chapels. On the other hand, many migrants associated with other professions donated substantial parts of their earnings to devotional and charitable purposes.

The migrants’ faith and generosity are still visible in many churches and chapels of these territories, particularly in the Pedemonte region, the Centovalli and in the villages surrounding the town of Locarno. Inhabitants of these places had migrated to different Italian cities – especially Livorno, Florence and Rome – for centuries. Exclusively men, they worked as porters (facchini), coachmen (vetturini), chimney sweeps and food-sellers (rosticcieri), to mention just a few professions. In Livorno and Florence they were even able to obtain the monopoly of the porterage trade.

The following pictures shall help to illustrate the impact of migration as it is still tangible today. (Click the thumbnails to enlarge the images.)


§ Figures 1, 2 and 3 – Chapel of S. Rocco (St Roch, 17th century) in the parish church of S. Maria Assunta (Assumption) in Tegna (Terre di Pedemonte, bailiwick and pieve of Locarno)

On the balustrade of many chapels, and in one case even on a confessional box, we can often find the inscription “B.D.L”, an acronym which means “Benefattori di Livorno” (“Benefactors of Livorno”). The migrants active in Livorno gathered in groups and used to collect money for their parishes and brotherhoods.


§ Figures 4, 5, 6 and 7 – Chapel in Verscio (1740) (Terre di Pedemonte, bailiwick and pieve of Locarno); and Our Lady of Montenero in Livorno (14th century)

References to migration and urban experiences also appear in specific devotions. In many churches of this region, even in small chapels deep in the forests, dozen of paintings depicting the Virgin of Montenero can still be found. Here we can see the original painting at Livorno and a very ‘rustic” copy in Verscio. The shrine of Our Lady of Grace of Montenero is located on a hill overlooking Livorno. The Madonna di Montenero, nowadays patron saint of Tuscany, was already widely venerated in seventeenth and eighteen-century century Livorno. In the chapel in Verscio, under the picture of the Virgin Mary and two further saints, we can see details of the port of Livorno (lighthouse and ships).


§ Figures 8, 9 and 10 – Parish church of S. Michele (St Michael) in Palagnedra (bailiwick and pieve of Locarno), Virgin of the Annunciation in Palagnedra (Lorenzo Cresci, altar piece, 1602) and Virgin of the Annunciation in Florence (fresco, 14th century)

A similarly imported devotion concerns the Virgin of the Annunciation of Florence. A copy of the famous and miraculous painting kept in the basilica of the Annunciation in Florence (fig. 8) can still been admired in the parish church of Palagnedra (fig. 9 and 10), a village in the Centovalli, also in the bailiwick of Locarno. This work of art was commissioned by migrants resident in Florence, as recorded in the inscription under the painting.

These are two very good examples of religious and devotional transfers. Further evidence can be found in rural brotherhoods, where migrants followed customs and devotions they had come across in major cities.


Bibliography

Adamoli Davide, Fratelli per l’eternità. Storia delle confraternite nei baliaggi sudalpini in epoca moderna, PhD presented at the Université de Fribourg and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, April 2014 (forthcoming).

Beard Geoffrey, Stucco and Decorative Plasterwork in Europe, London, Thames & Hudson, 1983.

Damiani Cabrini Laura, Seicento ritrovato: presenze pittoriche “italiane” nella Lombardia svizzera fra Cinquecento e Seicento, Milano, Skira, 1996.

Gambi Lucio (ed.), “Col bastone e la bisaccia per le strade d’Europa: migrazioni stagionali di mestiere nell’arco alpino nei secoli XVI-XVIII: atti di un seminario di studi tenutosi a Bellinzona l’8 e il 9 settembre 1988”, in Bollettino storico della Svizzera italiana, vol. 103, fasc. I-IV, gennaio-dicembre 1991.

Muchembled Robert (ed.), Cultural exchange in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006-2007.

Orelli Chiara, “Migrazione e mestiere: alcuni percorsi di integrazione nelle città lombarde e toscane di “migranti” dalla Svizzera italiana (secoli XVI-XVIII)”, in Meriggi Marco, Pastore Alessandro (ed.), Le regole dei mestieri e delle professioni, secoli XV-XIX, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2001.

Rüsch Elfi, I monumenti d’arte e di storia del Canton Ticino IV, Distretto di Locarno IV (La Verzasca, il Pedemonte, le Centovalli e l’Onsernone, Berna, Società di storia dell’arte in Svizzera SSAS, 2013.

CFP – Renaissance Society of America, Berlin 2015

04/28/2014 in art and imagery, Events, Italian Peninsula, landscapes and pilgrimage, Mediterranean, Parish Research Today, The Alpine Territories

‘Artistic Exchange in Unexpected Quarters’: Art, travel and geography during the Renaissance

 RSA Annual Meeting, Berlin, March 26 – 28, 2015

Deadline May 30, 2014

By popular account, Pieter Brueghel the Elder swallowed up the mountains and the rocks when journeying through the Alps, and spat them out again in his work once home. Dürer and Patinir immortalised the landscape in portable media, while for other artists and workshops, Alpine patrons and churches offered gainful employment and with that, diffusion of style and motif.  Such was the power of this geography for artistic creativity. Studies of exchange typically privilege urban contexts or determine influence through the polarities of north and south, east and west but little is made of the transitional zones in between or those at the so-called margins. What potentials did they offer for artistic exchange? Did it lead to unusual artworks, hybrid idioms or iconographies? Was there resistance or revival of local traditions?

It is nearly 20 years since Claire Farago asked whether “the categories into which our discipline [art history] is currently subdivided are really well-suited to analysing questions of intercultural exchange.” Reframing the Renaissance anticipated the global turn, bringing together studies of old and new worlds in an effort to rethink traditional categories and boundaries. More worlds than ever are opening up to Renaissance scholarship. This planned series of sessions borrows its title from Aby Warburg’s 1905 essay as a framework for new research on artistic exchange and diffusion (papers on sites, artworks, approaches are all welcome) in transitional zones across Italy, Europe and wider worlds, 1300-1650.

Please send your title, abstract (150 words max), and keywords, with C.V. to Joanne Anderson by May 30 at: j.w.anderson@sussex.ac.uk

Nemesis-Dürer-detail

 

BOhisto – Bolzano-Bozen’s History Online

06/24/2013 in Italian Peninsula, officeholding and local government, Parish sources, The Alpine Territories, towns and urban environment

Title Documents

Visit the wonderful new research resource BOhisto – Bozen-Bolzano’s History Online. “Some dozens of the old Minutes of the Municipal council of Bozen-Bolzano are freely available to you. The manuscripts digitised up to now span from 1470 to the late 17th century and shed light on the administration, the economy and the townspeople´s life of one of the main urban centres of Tyrol, situated on the most important transalpine route between Germany and Italy. The rich database offered by the archival data is an unique playground to further explore the urban history of a central European area.”

Searchable in Italian, German and English

Roundtable Discussion: ‘Parish Studies Tomorrow’

10/08/2012 in archeology and architecture, art and imagery, British Isles, drink and sociability, Italian Peninsula, Media, Podcasts, ritual, devotion and religious change, The Alpine Territories


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Dr Jonathan Willis (University of Birmingham) chairs a roundtable discussion, entitled ‘Parish Studes Tomorrow’, at the Tenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research, ‘Paris Studies Today’. The participants are Dr Joanne Anderson (University of Warwick, History of Art), Kristi Woodward Bain (Northwestern University, Religious Studies), Agata Gomolka (University of Warwick, History of Art), Matthew D. Jackson (University of Warwick, History), and Susan Orlik (University of Birmingham, History). Recorded Saturday 26 May 2012, at Scarman House, University of Warwick.

Artworks, Agents and Interactions

10/08/2012 in archeology and architecture, art and imagery, British Isles, drink and sociability, Italian Peninsula, literature and the liturgy, Media, Podcasts


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Dr. Joanne Anderson (University of Warwick, History of Art) chairs a panel session, entitled ‘Artworks, Agents and Interactions’, at the Tenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research, ‘Parish Studies Today’. Papers include:

  • Dr Sandra Cardarelli (Aberdeen) [with contribution by Olivia Bruschettini (Grosseto)], ‘New research in the Diocese of Grosseto: Towards a systematic approach in parish research’ / ‘Digitization of artworks in churches of the Diocese of Grosseto and related research with historical sources’
  • Dr Donal Cooper (University of Warwick, Art History), ‘Ideal Poverty versus Real Poverty? Mendicant and Parish Churches in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy’
  • Don White (University of Warwick, History), ‘Invisible saints: The search for medieval wood sculpture in British parish life’

Recorded Sunday 27th May, at Scarman House, University of Warwick

Roundtable Discussion: ‘Parish Studies Tomorrow’

10/06/2012 in archeology and architecture, art and imagery, British Isles, drink and sociability, Italian Peninsula, Media, ritual, devotion and religious change, The Alpine Territories, Videos

Dr Jonathan Willis (University of Birmingham) chairs a roundtable discussion, entitled ‘Parish Studes Tomorrow’, at the Tenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research, ‘Paris Studies Today’. The participants are Dr Joanne Anderson (University of Warwick, History of Art), Kristi Woodward Bain (Northwestern University, Religious Studies), Agata Gomolka (University of Warwick, History of Art), Matthew D. Jackson (University of Warwick, History), and Susan Orlik (University of Birmingham, History). Recorded Saturday 26 May 2012, at Scarman House, University of Warwick.