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Event Details

Tue, October 17, 2017

18:00 – 19:00

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italia

A lecture by Ingrid Greenfield, Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti.

The stuffed crocodile, often hanging from the ceiling of a room crowded with a mix of man-made and natural objects mounted on walls, displayed on shelves, and stored in drawers, has become the quintessential image of the Renaissance studiolo, cabinet of curiosity, and Wunderkammer. While crocodiles had long been linked to Africa in the minds of Europeans, representing both the marvelous and the monstrous, new material objects from sub-Saharan Africa such as exquisitely carved ivories began to arrive in large numbers throughout the early modern period, making their way into collections throughout the Italian peninsula. This talk will explore how the production, circulation, and acquisition of such objects was intimately bound up with the increasing commercial contact between European and sub-Saharan African cultures, materially connecting the Medici and other celebrated collectors of the Renaissance with the greed and violence of the transatlantic slave trade.

The event is co-sponsored with La Pietra Dialogues.

Featured Biographies

Ingrid Greenfield


Ingrid Greenfield is Post-Doctoral Fellow and Assistant to the Director for Academic Programs at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Her primary areas of research are the visual and material cultures of early modern Italy and Africa, and the history of collecting and display of African arts from the Renaissance onward. In particular, her work focuses on the exchanges between sub-Saharan Africa and the Italian peninsula in the fifteenth to seventeen centuries, and the collecting of foreign materials by elites in both regions. Ingrid received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Chicago and served as visiting assistant professor at the University of Florida before her appointment at I Tatti.