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Piero di Cosimo

Painter of Faith and Fable

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It could be said that the study of Piero di Cosimo belongs no less to the history of imagination than to the history of art. As was true for Giorgio Vasari five centuries ago, Piero’s highly personal visual language remains a moving target for modern scholars. Yet, as surprising and alluringly strange as his pictorial solutions appear, it may be claimed that we have never known or understood as much about Piero as we do today. Freed from the powerful spell of Vasari’s biography-cum-cautionary tale, the Piero that emerges is not solely a conjurer of the uncanny, but a sensitive observer of the natural and manmade worlds, humans and beasts, surfaces and coloristic effects, phenomena material and ephemeral.



The complementary exhibitions in Washington and Florence, then, signified both a continuing journey and a destination, bringing together and, in many cases, reuniting paintings that have been separated for many decades, if not centuries. The conference from which the thirteen essays in the present volume emerge provided a forum for international scholars to continue the ongoing conversation and, above all, to ask new questions. The latter address Piero’s relationship to his artistic contemporaries, north and south of the Alps, across a variety of media; the master’s Marian imagery; his intellectual engagement with classical traditions; the dual themes of naturalism and exoticism; and the latest technical findings, gleaned from the most recent conservation efforts. Topics of investigation thus range as broadly as Piero’s own versatile production, uniting diverse fields and methods, traversing regional boundaries, and, on occasion, venturing far beyond Florence’s city walls, into the wild.





Contributors are: Ianthi Assimakopoulu, Marina Belozerskaya, Jean Cadogan, Elena Capretti, Alessandra Galizzi Kroegel, Dennis Geronimus, Guy Hedreen, Sarah Blake McHam, Anna Teresa Monti, Paula Nuttall, Roberta Olson, Lesley Stevenson, Lisa Venerosi Pesciolini, and Elizabeth Walmsley.