The Mystery of Still Life: From the Romans to the Baroque with Dr. Sara Magister

The Mystery of Still Life: From the Romans to the Baroque with Dr. Sara Magister


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What is a still life? How, when, and where did this concept emerge? In the company of a local art historian and professor, we’ll seek to unpack these questions as we begin to understand the purpose of this form and how it developed over the centuries through a curated selection of artworks and artists.

We’ll trace the roots of this genre of art as we analyze its impressive realism, against the backdrop of botanic symbolism. We’ll venture back to the Greek and Roman times as we consider objects, animals, and natural elements in their practical and celebrative function. We’ll spend some time looking at the interpretations from the Middle Ages, to the more poetic and allegorical perceptions of Renaissance times. Out of the Renaissance was born a new pre-scientific interest in nature–we’ll discuss how this spread in northern Italy and Europe.

Thanks to the talent of artists such as Simone Martini, to Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Lorenzo Lotto, Jacopo Bassano, Arcimboldo, and women painters such as Fede Galizia, still life acquired a new autonomous function. The objects started to speak by themselves and were filled with new symbolic meanings. Our final point of discussion will be the Baroque age when Northern European geniuses (such as Caravaggio and Carracci) defined the artistic genre which is we know and love so well today.

Led by art historian, professor and published Caravaggio author Sara Magister, this interactive discussion will delve into the genre of still life. Designed to inform curiosity and educate through an in-depth approach, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this style of art and the importance of it still today.

Sara is an art historian with doctoral degrees in Medieval and Modern Art History and Classical Antiquities. She is the author of a book, published by the Accademia dei Lincei, on the antiquities collection of Pope Julius II and has written various articles in important scholarly journals on the history of Renaissance and Baroque collections. More recently, she had published a book on some of the most famous paintings of Caravaggio in Rome which introduces a new interpretation of the works, based on philological data, and which is changing the way we look at this artist.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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