Urban responses to disaster in renaissance Italy: images and rituals

Fabrizio Nevola

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1 Citation (SciVal)


Earthquakes and natural disasters have rarely been considered as a distinctive iconographic genre. Starting from observations around Francesco di Giorgio Martini's Madonna of the Earthquakes, painted in Siena in 1467, this paper considers the cultural impact of and reactions to natural phenomena in the contemporary visual record. Such evidence, supported by chronicles and other circumstantial evidence, suggest that devotional and ritual responses remained at the forefront of municipalities' methods of dealing with such events, and that it is perhaps anachronistic to view these as distinct from political, economic and technical means. As such, images are a very effective document for recovering what might be termed the social and cultural construction of disaster in the Early Modern period. By claiming such visual documents back from historical seismographers, it is possible to consider historical earthquakes as critical moments when natural events challenged prevailing systems of belief, eliciting responses that tended to reinforce the structures which the "disasters" had undermined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWounded Cities
Subtitle of host publicationThe Representation of Urban Disasters in European Art (14th-20th Centuries)
EditorsM. Folin, M. Preti
Place of PublicationAldershot, U. K.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789004300682
ISBN (Print)9789004284913
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2015

Publication series

Name Art and Material Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe


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