Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome: Giulio Mancini and the Efficacy of Art

Hardcover | June 3, 2016

byFrances Gage

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In Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome, Frances Gage undertakes an in-depth study of the writings of the physician and art critic Giulio Mancini. Using Mancini’s unpublished treatises as well as contemporary documents, Gage demonstrates that in the early modern world, belief in the transformational power of images was not limited to cult images, as has often been assumed, but applied to secular ones as well.

This important new interpretation of the value of images and the motivations underlying the rise of private art collections in the early modern period challenges purely economic or status-based explanations. Gage demonstrates that paintings were understood to have profound effects on the minds, imaginations, and bodies of viewers. Indeed, paintings were believed to affect the health and emotional balance of beholders—extending even to the look and disposition of their offspring—and to compel them to behave according to civic and moral values.

In using medical discourse as an analytical tool to help elucidate the meaning that collectors and viewers attributed to specific genres of painting, Gage shows that images truly informed actions, shaping everyday rituals from reproductive practices to exercise. In doing so, she concludes that sharp distinctions between an artwork’s aesthetic value and its utility did not apply in the early modern period.

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In Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome, Frances Gage undertakes an in-depth study of the writings of the physician and art critic Giulio Mancini. Using Mancini’s unpublished treatises as well as contemporary documents, Gage demonstrates that in the early modern world, belief in the transformational power of images was not limited...

Frances Gage is Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Buffalo State College, State University of New York, where she focuses on early modern Italian Art. She has contributed widely to books and journals, including Renaissance Quarterly and Burlington Magazine.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 10 × 8 × 0.98 inPublished:June 3, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271071036

ISBN - 13:9780271071039

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

1 Art, Medical Culture, and Mancini’s Critical Fortune

2 Illness, Health Preservation, and Recreation

3 From Exercise to Repose

4 For Beautiful, Healthy Children

5 Preserving the Civic Body

Conclusion

Appendix

Notes

Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

“Gage breaks fertile new ground for the history of medicine and religious studies as well as art history and the history of collections. Highly recommended.”

—C. A. Hanson, Choice