The Insider's Guide to: Florence circa 1500

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After the French invasion in 1494, the Florentine people revolted against its de facto rulers and exiled the Medici family from Florence. Subsequently, the followers of the Dominican preacher Girolamo Savonarola (called piagnoni: weepers) instituted a theocratic government, taking fierce control over the city, while Savonarola was preaching the end of times and called for a large ‘bonfire of the vanities’ to ‘cleanse’ the city. Savonarola’s disgust of splendour is famous, but what exactly was the impact of his sermons and this theocratic government on the arts? How did artists respond to his attacks on their art and his calls for reform? This lecture discusses the arts in Florence from the period of Savonarola, and what came before (during the regime of the Medici) and after, with particular attention to the work of Botticelli and Michelangelo.

The presenter Arvi Wattel is a lecturer in the History of Art at UWA (School of Design). Before moving to Perth, he held fellowships at the Fondazione Ermitage in Ferrara, the Kunsthistorisches Institut (Max Planck Gesellschaft) in Florence, the Dutch Institute for Art History in Florence and the Royal Netherlandish Institute in Rome, and lectured at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the University of Maastricht and for Oberlin College in Arezzo.

This course will be held at The University Club of Western Australia.
Tea and coffee will be served in the break.

Course testimonials:

  • Loved this presentation: could have listened for longer: I look forward to any opportunity to hear this lecturer Highly recommend
  • The depth of knowledge and passion in delivery of the topic. Arvi asked the audience whether they could suggest other similar topics (Italy) and one could be "City States and their Rivalry". Hope you can pass this on to Arvi.
  • I had been totally unaware of the effect of the group of Jesuits on the culture of Florence at that time which was very well illustrated through art by the lecturer. Well presented, most enjoyable.