Lotte van ter Toolen | Tombs, memory, reputation: Artists’ memorials in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Rome | NWO PhDs in the Humanities Programme 2018 | University of Groningen, Department for History of Art and Architecture | Supervisors: Prof. dr B.A.M. Ramakers, Dr J.L. de Jong, Prof dr A. S. Lehmann | September 2018 – April 2023 | c.j.van.ter.toolen[at]rug.nl
This project is a contribution to the fruitful field of cultural memory studies, particularly of memory sites, that is, of spaces and objects that were consciously created or used to construct individual or collective identities and reputations. It investigates how in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Rome artists’ reputations were not merely reflected, but also shaped by their material memorialization in stone. The research corpus consists of tombs of well-known, lesser-known and un-known artists (both local and foreign) as well as tombs that are no longer extant.
Tomb monuments manage memory. Their inscriptions and decorations provide a selective summary of the deeds, virtues, and qualities that make the deceased worthy of recall. Artists’ memorials do not only construct their reputation as individuals, but also of the visual arts as a profession, and of artists as a social group. During the investigated period, the reputation of the visual arts underwent a notable change, as artists increasingly came to be valued as creative individuals rather than as mere craftsmen. By studying artists’ tomb monuments we not only improve our comprehension of the various ways in which artists were commemorated and esteemed, but also increase our understanding of their rising social status.
In addition, the tombs shed light on the patrons who commissioned them for their own self-fashioning. Thus, this project will investigate not only how artists were presented through their tombs, but also by whom, with what intention and to what effect, thereby enhancing our thinking about the relationship between history, memory, and representation.
Image: Luigi Capponi, Tomb monument of sculptor Andrea Bregno (†1506), Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.