CONF: Art beyond Placeness: Narratives of Movement in the Early Modern Period (The Norwegian Institute, Rome, 31 May-1 Jun 2023)

François Bunel the Younger (attributed to), The confiscation of the contents of an art dealer’s gallery, ca. 1590. Den Haag, Mauritshuis

In recent years, the new importance attributed to the biographies of objects and their global circulation has drawn increasing attention to the phenomenon of their physical transportation – in other words, to the complex sets and modes of actions required to move an object from the point of creation to its final destination. Inspired by the growing body of scholarship, this workshop aims to develop new tools to perceive, measure and interpret the movement of things, by looking specifically at the way physical transportation has been described, inspected, and dissected in early modern sources.

The materials under scrutiny here may take different forms, from diaries, letters, and other prosopographical accounts recording movement in its making; to archival materials that track unusual patterns of transportation and physical delivery; to letters, treatises, and even guides or handbooks reporting ex post facto descriptions of mobility. This workshop intends to probe this vast collection of sources in order to tease out how mobility was described and conceptualized, surveyed and explored in the long early modern period (approximately from 1350 to 1800), before the rise of modern logistics. In short, it addresses from all angles the narrative potential of mobility: how describing movement “makes a good story.”


Wednesday, May 31



Director’s Welcome 

Kristin Aavitsland (DNIR)


Introduction: Setting things in motion

Mattia Biffis


Writing and Recovering the Spaces-in-Between 

Elizabeth Rodini (Independent, New York)


Storie di città portuali: Genova, Livorno e un perduto Diana e le ninfe 

Vincenzo Sorrentino (Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura, Torino)

17:00 BREAK


Federico Barocci: Accompagnamenti, trasporti e spedizioni di opere 

Barbara Agosti (Università di Roma Tor Vergata)

Anna Maria Ambrosini Massari (Università di Urbino)


20:00 DINNER

Thursday, June 1


Wartime Mobility 

Francesca Borgo (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte)


Colonne galleggianti: i genovesi e il trasporto del marmo nel Mediterraneo nel primo Seicento

Roberto Santamaria (Université de Genève, Università di Genova)

11:45 BREAK


Risk, Risk Aversion, and the Rewards of Moving Sculptures from Grand Ducal Tuscany 

Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio (University of Vermont)

12.45 LUNCH


“Il maneggiare Marmi di Mole Straordinaria ogni Nazione la cede alli Carrarini”: Giovanni Battista Raggi, specialista nel trasporto e messa in opere di sculture monumentali (1765-1774)

Andrea Fusani (Università di Pisa)


Il trasporto di edifici ed elementi architettonici: strumenti e tecniche a Roma nei secoli XV-XIX 

Maria Grazia D’Amelio (Università di Roma Tor Vergata)

Lorenzo Grieco (Università di Roma Tor Vergata)

15:30 BREAK


Dislocating Antiquities, Conserving the Past, Teaching the Present: The Mobility of Ancient Architecture in the early 18th Century 

Eleonora Pistis (Columbia University)


Keeping the strings together: the perfection of mobility of objects in the aftermath of Napoleon 

Jörg Ebeling (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris)


Final remarks

A workshop organized by Mattia Biffis

Det Norske Institutt i Roma

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