Guest Lecture - autumn 2017

Jacopo Bassano, localism and the painting of rural life

Dr Tom Nichols, Reader in History of Art, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

Thurs, 21 Sept 2017: 4:00pm Newman House, 85-86 St. Stephen’s Green
All Welcome.


In many paintings by Jacopo Bassano (ca. 1510-92), close-up views of contemporary peasants and their farm animals replace the historiated, classicized and idealized actors familiar in Italian Renaissance painting. However, Jacopo was never quite the simple local painter that this rural imagery might suggest. The sophisticated painting style that he employs in such works suggests his connection to the most progressive artistic currents of his time. Moreover, such works were typically made for export to patrons and markets remote from Jacopo’s provincial workshop in Bassano del Grappa. The evidence suggests that the painter knowingly manipulated his identity as a local artist in order to foster and exploit a developing market for rural images among art patrons and markets far removed from the immediacies of life in the countryside. Jacopo’s rural paintings have sometimes been associated with classical pastoral poetry, or the religiosity of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Their wider geo-cultural meanings have gone largely unnoticed. This lecture will explore Jacopo’s visions of an innocent, indigenous and productive local world as signalling the arrival of the market-orientated and ‘dis-located’ culture of modernity itself.