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In 1428, a devastating fire destroyed a schoolhouse in the Northern Italian city of Forlì, leaving only a woodcut of the Madonna and Child that had been tacked to the classroom wall. The people of Forlì carried that print – now known as the Madonna of the Fire – into their cathedral, where two centuries later a new chapel was built to enshrine it. In this book, Lisa Pon considers a cascade of moments in the Madonna of the Fire's cultural biography: when ink was impressed onto paper at a now-unknown date; when that sheet was recognized by Forlì's people as miraculous; when it was enshrined in various tabernacles and chapels in the cathedral; when it or one of its copies was – and still is – carried in procession. In doing so, Pon offers an experiment in art historical inquiry that spans more than three centuries of making, remaking, and renewal.Read more
- An interdisciplinary study that brings together art history, religious studies, and human geography
- Explores the use of religious pictures in various settings: churches, homes, schools, roadside shrines, temporary festival altars, and processions
- Includes a reconstruction of the route of a 1636 procession, illustrated with previously unpublished photographs by noted Italian photographer Giorgio Liverani
Reviews & endorsements
"Lisa Pon, one of the most distinguished historians of early prints, has given us a biography of the several ‘lives’ of a single image - a lone surviving impression of an anonymous early woodcut. Pon’s exemplary case study deftly combines modern critical theory with deep historical sleuthing to elucidate the significance across the centuries of both Madonna of the Fire and its replications for Forlì’s religious and civic community alike."
Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History, University of PennsylvaniaSee more reviews
"With imagination and wit, Lisa Pon tells the story of an unremarkable artifact’s illustrious career. It is a telling tale about the complex relation of persons to things."
Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University, Massachusetts
"In A Printed Icon in Early Modern Italy, Lisa Pon excavates the cultural life of a singular and extraordinary object. Anchoring her study in a fifteenth-century Italian print that miraculously survived a fire, she expertly guides the reader through its placements and displacements over time and space."
Michael Gaudio, University of Minnesota
"A reading centered not only on the image, but on how it came to be used and the cultural heritage it helped generate … a volume destined to be read and studied across the world."
Roberto Balzani, translation from SHARP News
"A volume destined to be read and studied across the world."
Il Resto del Carlino
'As a contribution to the history of Renaissance prints, Pon’s unique microhistory of the Madonna del Fuoco situates the printed image in the rich context of miracle-working images in various media, modes of enshrinement and the culture of relics, civic pride and political rivalries, monuments, chronicles and festivals, and even the practices of Renaissance fire brigades.' Evelyn Lincoln, Art in Print
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- Date Published: July 2022
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107491113
- length: 308 pages
- dimensions: 254 x 178 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.542kg
- contains: 99 b/w illus. 4 colour illus. 1 map
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Thing:
1. Iconography: Madonna and child
2. Imprint: paper, print, and matrix
Part II. Emplacement:
3. Miracle: the fire of February 4, 1428
4. Domestic display: Lombardino da Ripetrosa's schoolhouse
5. Ecclesiastical enshrinement: the cathedral of Forlì
Part III. Mobilities:
6. Moving in the city: the translation of 1636
7. Mobile in print: the procession on paper
8. Multiplied: the Madonna of the Fire in Forlì and beyond.
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