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Living Flesh: Splendour, Sex and Sickness on the Surface of the Skin

A public lecture by Lisa Beaven (La Trobe University) at The University of Western Australia.

Date: Thursday 11 October 2018
Fox Lecture Hall, G.59, Ground Floor, Arts Building, The University of Western Australia (UWA)
Cost: Free, but RSVP essential.

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This lecture explores the relationship between artistic images of nudity in early modern Europe and societal attitudes to nakedness in real life. Despite the importance of the nude for the history of Western art, little attention has been paid to  the effect of such images on contemporaries' perceptions of nakedness. With the advent of humanism during the Renaissance, images of naked gods and goddess multiplied. Instead of viewing these through the lens of classical antiquity, this lecture will chart the effects such images had on social values, perceptions of beauty, courtship rituals and intimate sexual behaviour. The more skin was shown, the more it became the focus of theoretical attention, with the widespread belief that this pliant surface could reveal the secrets of temperament, health and destiny.

Lisa Beaven is Lecturer in Art History at La Trobe University. She has previously taught at the Universities of Melbourne and Auckland. She was the 2008 Trendall Fellow at the British School at Rome and from 2014–2018 was a postdoctoral research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at The University of Melbourne. Dr Beaven’s research interests are focused on seventeenth-century Rome, with a particular interest in patronage and collecting. She is also interested in the issue of false relics, the relationship between the church and antiquarian circles in Rome, and emotional responses to paintings and sculpture in the early modern period. She has ongoing research projects on landscape painting and the ecology of the Roman Campagna, the market for relics in seventeenth-century Rome, and space and the senses in the baroque city. With Joan Barclay Lloyd, she has studied travel and the built environment of Rome; with Angela Hesson she studied love objects for the exhibition ‘Love: Art of Emotion 1400–1800’ (2017); and with Angela Ndalianis, she undertook the ARC Discovery project: ‘Experiencing Space: Sensory Encounters from Baroque Rome to Neo-Baroque Las Vegas’. In 2010, she published An Ardent Patron: Cardinal Camillo Massimo and his Artistic and Antiquarian Circles in Rome (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2010). Her collection, Emotion and the Seduction of the Senses, Baroque to Neo-Baroque (edited with Angela Ndalianis) was published by Medieval Institute Press in 2018.

Chair: Arvi Wattel

Presented by The University of Western Australia's Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS) and the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group (PMRG), with support from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE).

Associated events sponsored by IAS UWA/PMRG/CMEMS/CHE

Image: Lorenzo Lotto , Venus and Cupid, 1520s. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986.138. Purchase, Mrs Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honour of Marietta Tree, 1986.