Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

A 'Concert' of Paintings in Renaissance Italy

In the context of the XV Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo, the theme of which is "Italiano della musica, musica dell'italiano", the Department presents a seminar by a UCC colleague in History of Art, Dr Bláithín Hurley.

To the modern spectator a painting entitled The Concert usually suggests a public musical performance. Similarly, we may think the musical term ‘concerto’, to mean a small instrumental group, or a soloist playing with a larger ensemble. Therefore, when we look at paintings from the Italian Renaissance period entitled The Concert are we indeed looking at a public performance, or something else? The painting may have been produced for purposes other than demonstrating a musical performance. To represent a public musical performance a painting must contain or imply some sort of audience. It is a distinguishing feature of musical paintings in the Renaissance that, although the ensembles are secular and domestic, they seem to play for themselves, not for an audience.

They are not concerts; nor can they be performing a ‘concerto’ by any musical definition, as the groups consist of very few performers. Pictorial ‘concerts’ appear in the art of all Italian periods, for music is a standard part of many scenes. Some narratives require a musical episode such as when music accompanies public and semi- public festivities and celebrations. However, when domestic secular music is depicted the concert element may not be as public as the title suggests. In this paper I will discuss the particular features of the many secular musical images in ‘concert’ paintings of the Italian Renaissance, thereby contextualising and repositioning these musical depictions in the historiography of Art History and of Musicology. Bláithín Hurley recently completed a PhD on Music and Culture in sixteenth-century Venice at University of Cambridge. She previously completed a Masters in Venetian Renaissance Art and its Legacy at the University of Warwick (2009) and a BA in Music and History of Art in UCC (2008).

Category: Public Lectures and Seminars: Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
Time: 5pm - 6pm
Location: Boole 6, University College Cork
Target Audience: All welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Dr Mark Chu
021 490 2335/2486

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