Katie Barclay, Legacies of Exile: The Stuarts in Rome

By |2023-03-26T19:49:23+00:00March 26th, 2023|Visual Reflections|

A portrait of Maria Clementina Sobieski (1702-1735) overlooks the left aisle of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It forms part of an elaborate monument to her memory, commissioned by Pope Clement XII, after her death in 1735, designed by Filippo Barigioni, with sculptures by Pietro Bracchi and a mosaic by Pietro Paulo Cristofari. Queen Clementina, the wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, the Jacobite claimant to the British throne and granddaughter of the Polish king John III Sobieski, had in the years before her death devoted her life to her faith, and especially the practice of charity, giving to the poor and serving them in hospitals. Her death, following a period of strict self-denial, including limited food, was treated as evidence of her saint-like existence and immediately capitalised on by the Church and her family. Clementina was presented as a model of piety, her status as queen marking her life the more remarkable while simultaneously affirming the power of the Church. Figure 1: Maria Clementina Sobieski Memorial, St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, CC 3.0 Kim Traynor. Clementina was a Jacobite queen. [...]

Philippe Bornet, The Mediterranean Space through South Indian Eyes, 1778–1786: Visual and Material Elements in the Varttamānappustakam

By |2023-03-26T19:40:38+00:00March 26th, 2023|Visual Reflections|

December 1779. Four men from distant Kerala are waiting for quarantine clearance in Genoa after sailing from Lisbon on a ship belonging to Swedish merchants. Some six years later, a letter was sent by one of these men from Lisbon to the Propaganda Fide in Rome, just before embarking on a boat, destination South India. After exposing details about the logistics of the planned travel, the letter was also referring to a ‘small collection of books costing about 6000 cruçades’, about to be transferred with its owner to South India. Who were these men and what were they doing in the Mediterranean? What can we learn from this case as to the circulation of material and visual goods between India and Europe in that period? And what were the books in that ‘small collection’? Figure 1: Last known letter of Kariyattil about his trip back to India, including a mention of a small collection of books worth of about 6000 cruçades that he took with him to India. The letter was sent to S. Borgia, secretary of the Propaganda Fide [...]

Giulia Iannuzzi, Early-Modern Luxury Timekeeping

By |2023-03-07T16:21:26+00:00March 6th, 2023|Visual Reflections|

An ivory diptych dial made soli deo gloria by Paulus Reinman (active 1575-1609) around 1600 in Nuremberg, at the time an important centre of manufacturing specialised in scientific instruments (Fig. 1). This pocket dial is part of a remarkable collection of objects for measuring and representing time, at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan (Italy). This type of dial is formed by two panels that fold flat when not in use, with a string between the inner surfaces casting a shadow. It was used to tell the time and, among other things, to regulate mechanical clocks. Clocks’ rapid technical development had in fact by no means caused the abandonment of gnomon-based methods, i.e., those systems, of which the sundial is the most well-known, that tell the time of the day by measuring the solar shadow cast by an object - the gnomon - on a flat surface. Figure 1. Paulus Reinman, ivory diptych dial, 1602, 11,3 x 9,2 cm. Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan (Italy), accession no. 4111. Photo courtesy of Poldi Pezzoli Museum, all rights reserved. In the invention of the [...]