Sektion 3: Stadtpläne und Veduten als Objekte und Mittel der kunsthistorischen Forschung
Davide Ferri, Florenz/Bern

Genoa’s Transmedial Cityscapes

Around the mid-seventeenth century, one of the most detailed and topographically accurate representations of the city of Genoa was a three-dimensional veduta cast in bronze. Located on the high altar of the cathedral of San Lorenzo, in the heart of the Ligurian capital, it depicts the city of Genoa within the more than 20-kilometer-long "mura nuove" and the Ligurian Sea. This 1.5-meter-wide cityscape forms the lower part of a life-size bronze sculpture of the enthroned Virgin Mary. While two putti place a sumptuous royal crown on the Virgin’s head, two others hold the model of the city at her feet, with the urban fabric appearing to “unfold” on the altar steps. Though largely neglected by art historians, the sculpture, cast by Giovanni Battista Bianco between 1649 and 1652 after a design by Domenico Fiasella, is a pivotal case study that allows us to critically investigate the interplay between topography, artistic form, and political discourses in the seventeenth century.

Typologically influenced by the tradition of city models used as attributes of patron saints, the iconography and function of this sculpture unfold over a much broader semantic horizon. In 1637, navigating a political crisis, the Senate of the Republic proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the new “Queen of the Republic”, permanently changing the perception of the political system of the small yet influential state on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The new sovereign needed to be visually linked to the state’s territory in order to exist and persuade, and therefore a new iconography was created, consisting of the image of the Virgin Mary in combination with a bird’s eye view of the city. In addition to the bronze sculpture, altarpieces with city views of Genoa were sent to the Genoese national churches in Naples, Palermo, and Messina, each the result of a collaborative process between the painter Domenico Fiasella and an unknown cartographer.

Starting with a close-up analysis of this exceptional three-dimensional representation of the city of Genoa and its iconography, this paper will elaborate on the cultural technique of mapping between topographical surveying and artistic discourses, questions of scale and morphology within transmaterial and transmedial artistic practices, and the agency of cityscapes beyond the dualism of sacred and profane images and spaces.

Kurzbiografie Davide Ferri
2011–2018BA and MA in Art and Visual History and Classical Archaeology in Berlin and Basel
2013–2019Student assistant, Cluster of Excellence “Bild Wissen Gestaltung. Ein interdisziplinäres Labor,” “Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance,” and Humboldt Forum Foundation, Berlin
2019–2023Academic assistant, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, Florence
since 2020PhD candidate, University of Bern; member of the Graduate School in Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg
since 2023Research associate and scientific coordinator, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, Florence
since 2023Adjunct lecturer, Institute for Art History, University of Bern
Forschungs- bzw. Arbeitsschwerpunkte Images and territories, ca. 1600–1850; art and the environment; concepts of identity in visual and material culture; mediterranean visual cultures, ca. 1500–1700
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