Art History Graduate Students Lecture Series
The Renaissance Readymade: Displaying Raw Stone in the Cinquecento Garden
While scholars of sixteenth-century Italian gardens have primarily devoted their attention to the role of sculptures and fountains within the landscape, the presence and significance of raw stone have been almost entirely overlooked. These large masses of rusticated stone were often displayed in gardens in much the same manner as sculptures, indicating that they were understood by period visitors as being far more profound and potent than mere building materials. These stony forms stretch the already porous distinctions between Art and Nature, just as the juxtaposition with their more refined, figural counterparts appears to dramatize the very origin of the sculptures themselves. Not only does the installation of these stones within Renaissance and Early Modern gardens hint at a more nuanced understanding of landscape and material; it also reframes period discourses regarding the concept of Art itself.
Katherine Coty is a PhD student in Art History.