The study of Piero di Cosimo belongs no less to the history of the imagination than to the history of art. As was true for Giorgio Vasari five centuries ago, Piero’s intensely personal visual language remains a moving target for modern scholars. Yet, as surprising and strange as his pictorial solutions appear, we have never known 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 emotions, the natural and manmade worlds, humans and beasts, surfaces and coloristic effects, phenomena material and ephemeral.
The conference from which the thirteen essays in this volume spring provided a forum for international scholars to continue the ongoing conversation and to ask new questions. The latter address Piero’s relationship to his artistic contemporaries, north and south of the Alps; the master’s Marian imagery; his intellectual engagement with classical traditions; the dual themes of naturalism and exoticism; and the latest technical findings. Topics of investigation thus range as broadly as Piero’s own versatile production, uniting diverse fields and methods, traversing regional boundaries, and often venturing far beyond Florence’s city walls, into the wild.
Contributors are Ianthi Assimakopoulou, Marina Belozerskaya, Jean Cadogan, Elena Capretti, Alessandra Galizzi Kroegel, Dennis Geronimus, Guy Hedreen, Sarah Blake McHam, Anna Teresa Monti, Paula Nuttall, Roberta J.M. Olson, Lesley Stevenson, Lisa Venerosi Pesciolini, and Elizabeth Walmsley.