Natural hazards punctuate the history of European towns, moulding their shape and identity: this book is devoted to the artistic representation of those calamities, from the late Middle Ages to the 20th century. It contains nine case studies which discuss, among others, the relationship between biblical imagery and the realistic depiction of urban disasters; the religious, political and ritual meanings of “destruction subjects” in early modern painting; the image of fire in Renaissance treatises on architecture; the first photographic campaigns documenting earthquakes’ damages; the role of contemporary art in the elaboration of a cultural memory of urban destructions. Thus, this book intends to address one of the main issues of Western civilization: the relationship of European towns with their own past and its discontinuities.
Contributors are Alessandro Del Puppo, Isabella di Lenardo, Marco Folin, Sophie Goetzmann, Emanuela Guidoboni, Philippe Malgouyres, Olga Medvedkova, Fabrizio Nevola, Monica Preti and Tiziana Serena.
Marco Folin, Ph.D. (2001), Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, is Professor of History of Architecture at the University of Genoa. He has published several studies on Italian urban culture and the relationship between art and politics in the Renaissance.
Monica Preti, Ph.D. (2004), European University Institute of Florence, is Head of Academic Programs at the Auditorium of Louvre Museum. She has published studies on the history of collecting (18th-19th centuries) and on the relationship between arts and literature in the Renaissance.
List of Table and Figures xv
List of Contributors xix xxi
The Representation of Urban Disasters in a Long-Term
1 Transient Cities: Representations of Urban Destructions in European
Iconography in the Fourteenth to Seventeenth Centuries 3
2 When Towns Collapse: Images of Earthquakes, Floods, and Eruptions in
Italy in the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries 33
Images of Ruination and Hopes for Redemption
3 Urban Responses to Disaster in Renaissance Italy: Images and
4 In the Beginning, There was Fire: Vitruvius and the Origin of the
5 “Cities of Fire”: Iconographic Fortune, Taste and Circulation of Fire
Paintings between Flanders and Italy in the early Sixteenth
Isabella di Lenardo
6 The Destruction of the City: A Pledge of Salvation? Some Reflections
about Monsù Desiderio and the Genre of “Destruction Painting” 116
Urban Disasters on Display: Art, Documentation, Remembrance
7 Catastrophe and Photography as a “Double Reversal”: The 1908 Messina
and Reggio Earthquake and the Album of the Italian Photographic
8 Meidner’s Urban Iconography: Optical Destruction and Visual
9 Destruction and Construction in Contemporary Art. Three Cases in
Twentieth-Century Italy (Gibellina 1968, Friuli 1976, Napoli 1980) 179
Alessandro Del Puppo
Index of Names 193
Index of Places 203
Art historians, urban historians and all interested in the image of European towns in a perspective of cultural history, from the late Middle Ages to the XXth century.