20 May 2015 12:00pm - 2:00pm Room SG1, Alison Richard Building.


Professor Helen King (Classical Studies, Open University)
The Material Womb

Professor Michelle O’Malley (Art History, University of Sussex)
Botticelli and Reproduction


The material womb
In the western tradition of thinking about the body, wombs have not only been illustrated in a variety of shapes, but been made in a variety of materials: ancient terracotta ‘votive wombs’ meet today’s brightly coloured, perky knitted wombs, while eighteenth-century glass wombs give way to nineteenth-century rubber wombs. In this paper, as an aspect of a wider project concerning what has been thought to constitute a body ‘part’, I will consider the colours and materials used for wombs. I shall be arguing that something more than factual knowledge guides the visual representation of the womb, and that taking the long view changes the assumptions we now make, and the questions we put to the past.


Botticelli and Reproduction
In the art historical tradition of thinking about Renaissance painting, we conceptualise pictures as ‘autograph’ and ‘workshop’, admiring the former as, say, a Botticelli, and often denigrating the latter as a slavish and dull copy. But these two strands of production were not divergent: both were outputs of the business of a master painter, and both involved, in varying degrees, the input of the master and his assistants. In this paper, I will consider the production of Botticelli’s ‘workshop’ works, drawing particularly on technical analysis to discuss approaches to the manufacture of these material objects created for the Renaissance home. I will argue that ‘workshop’ work—Botticelli’s re-produced things—represent decisions he made about manufacture in the business and that their construction calls into question some of our most fundamental tools for assessing attribution and understanding how Renaissance painters worked.


Open to all.  No registration required
Part of Things that Matter, 1400-1900 Research Group seminar series

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