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Event Details

Tue, September 17, 2019

10:00 – 18:00

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italia

The conservation of the large 18th century Aubusson Tapestry “The Palace of Circe” (designed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry around 1760) spanned a decade and has just now been completed. Villa La Pietra takes the opportunity of the redisplay of this wonderful work of art to shed light on the meaning of the story of Circe in the context of European eighteenth-century culture. The symposium will also include an analysis of the conservation treatment, the collecting taste in the Acton home and the cultural significance of the tapestry.


10:00 AM – Welcome by Larry Wolff and Perri Klass, Co-Directors, NYU Florence

10:30 AM – Guided tour of the Acton collection, with a focus on the tapestries with Francesca Baldry, Costanza Perrone Da Zara and Claudia Beyer

12:00 PM – Buffet Lunch

1:00 PM – Session I – Collecting, Conservation, and the Myth of Circe: The Acton Tapestry
Chairs: Larry Wolff and Perri Klass, Co-Directors, NYU Florence
Francesca Baldry, Acton Collection Manager, NYU Florence
Costanza Perrone Da Zara and Claudia Beyer, Textile Conservators, Florence
Loretta Dolcini, Art Historian, Former Curator for the Quirinale textile collection

3:00 PM – Coffee Break

3:30 PM – Session II – Classical & Modern Cultural Contexts for the Circe Tapestry
Chairs: Larry Wolff and Perri Klass, Co-Directors, NYU Florence
Constanze Güthenke, Faculty of Classics, E.P. Warren Praelector, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University
Anthony Pagden, Departments of History and Political Science, UCLA
Peter Sahlins, Department of History, UC Berkeley
Giulia Sissa, Department of Classics, UCLA

5:30 PM – Conclusion wrap-up followed by cocktail in the garden

Featured Biographies

Francesca Baldry


Francesca Baldry is the Collection Manager for the Acton Collection at Villa La Pietra NYU Florence since 1999. She received the doctoral international Diploma di Specializzazione in Art History, Conservation and Art Museum Curating from the University of Florence in 1996. She has worked in English museums (Dulwich Picture Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum) and collaborated extensively with Italian museums and the Italian Governmental Body of the Soprintendenza. Prof. Baldry has taught university courses in the field of the Visual Arts, including: “Master and Monuments”, “Art Expertise” and for NYU Florence “Florentine Villas” and “Art Collecting and Museology”. Her scholarly work covers: 19th and 20th c. Anglo-American Collecting, Nineteenth-Century Art and Conservation; Renaissance Art Media (cartapesta), Tapestries Conservation and Collecting, Preventive Conservation in Museums, House Museum Taste and Management. Her publications include: F. Baldry and H. Spande, Tapestries in the Acton Collection at Villa La Pietra, catalog edited by Edifir Edizioni, Firenze, 2010; F. Baldry, L’arte di vivere e donare in Italia fra Otto e Novecento: ovvero “A Cup of Tea”, in Voglia d’Italia. Il Collezionismo internazionale nella Roma del Vittoriano, catalog edited by E. Pellegrini, Polo Museale Lazio, Roma 2017; F. Baldry, E. Ciampoli, Conservare la memoria. Vent’anni di Restauri a Settignano, Edifir, Firenze, 2018.

Perri Klass


Perri Klass, MD, is Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University and Co-Director of NYU Florence; she practices pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Klass writes the weekly column, “The Checkup,” for the New York Times. Her nonfiction books include Every Mother is a Daughter, coauthored with her mother, and Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit In, coauthored with Eileen Costello, M.D., A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student, and Baby Doctor: A Pediatrician’s Training. Her most recent books are The Mercy Rule, a novel, and Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor.  Dr. Klass is the National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, which works through pediatric primary care to promote reading aloud to young children.

Larry Wolff


Larry Wolff is the Silver Professor of History at New York University, Director of the NYU Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, Executive Director of the NYU Remarque Institute, and Co-Director of NYU-Florence. His most recent book is The Singing Turk: Ottoman Power and Operatic Emotions on the European Stage from the Siege of Vienna to the Age of Napoleon (2016).  He is also the author of Paolina’s Innocence: Child Abuse in Casanova’s Venice (2012); The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture(2010), Venice and the Slavs: The Discovery of Dalmatia in the Age of Enlightenment (2001), Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (1994), The Vatican and Poland in the Age of the Partitions (1988); and Postcards From the End of the World: Child Abuse in Freud’s Vienna (1988).  He has received Fulbright, American Council of Learned Societies, and Guggenheim fellowships, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Loretta Dolcini


Loretta Dolcini is an art historian who has worked for many years in public institutions in Florence and Rome to enhance Italy’s national artistic heritage. She has overseen numerous and important conservation projects, including Ghiberti’s Gates to Paradise,  Frederick II’s Stauroteca in Cosenza, Donatello’s Giuditta, Andrea del Verrocchio’s Incredulità di San Tommaso, the Cathedral of Monza’s treasure, the tapestries of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, and the Medici tapestry series by Agnolo Bronzino including Stories of Joseph in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Dolcini has equipped and directed the textile and tapestry conservation labs at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, San Giulio d’Orta’s the Benedictine Monastery, and the Quirinale Palace where she designed and directed the general inventory of movable property of the Italian Presidential Offices, especially those of particular historical-artistic interest, including up to 5500 objects. She has conducted research and published studies on iconography especially concerning applied arts and tapestries.

Constanze Güthenke


Constanze Güthenke is Professor of Greek Literature in the Department of Classics at the University of Oxford, and E.P. Warren Praelector at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She is trained in both Classics and Comparative Literature, and she works mostly on forms of Hellenism and on Antiquity after Antiquity, especially in the 18 th to 20 th centuries. She taught for many years at Princeton University before returning to the UK, and her multiple institutional and disciplinary affiliations have led her to second order questions about the knowledge of antiquity, attitudes towards it, and how to place and articulate those relations.
She is the author of Placing Modern Greece: the Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770-1850 (Oxford, 2008), and of Feeling and Classical Philology: Knowing Antiquity in German Scholarship (Cambridge, 2020). She is a founding member of the Postclassicisms Collective and a co-author of its jointly written book Postclassicisms (Chicago, 2019). She is also the editor in chief of the Classical Receptions Journal.
She continues to be interested in the cultural histories and conceptual possibilities of comparison and movement, and she has ongoing projects about the rhetoric and functions of exemplarity, and about the transnational aspects of scholarship and scholarly community. She also teaches classical Greek literature for a living.

Anthony Padgen


Anthony Pagden is Distinguished Professor, in the Departments of Political Science and History, UCLA. He has been: Fellow of Merton College, Oxford; Senior Research Fellow the Warburg Institute; University Reader in Intellectual History and Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge; Professor of History at the European University Institute; Harry C. Black Professor of History Johns Hopkins. His research has concentrated on the relationship, cultural, political and legal, between the peoples of Europe and its overseas settlements and those of the non-European. He is the author of more than a dozen books which have been translated into a number of European and Asian languages. His most recent publications include The Enlightenment – and why it still matters (Random House and Oxford University Press) in 2013, and in 2015, The Burdens of Empire: 1539 to the Present (Cambridge University Press). He has also written for (among others) the New Republic, the National Interest the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesEl Pais (Spain) Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy) the London Review of Books, the Times Literary SupplementThe Literary Review, and the Huffington Post.

Costanza Perrone Da Zara and Claudia Beyer


Costanza Perrone Da Zara and Claudia Beyer, accredited to the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, have worked since 1995 in the conservation field for public institutions, including the Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Davanzati, the Enrico Caruso Museum in Florence, and the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Moreover they have provided their service to important private collections in Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and the USA. Costanza has a degree from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, and Claudia graduated in textile technology and was trained in conservation in Germany and Italy by institutional programs. In the past twenty years, they have actively collaborated with NYU for preventive and remedial conservation of the Acton collection at Villa La Pietra in Florence and their projects have been conducted in partnership with the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts NYU. Perrone and Beyer are members of the International Council of Museums. Among their published articles regarding the Acton Collection are: Upholstery Conservation in the Acton Collection, ICOM-CC Joint Interim Meeting: Multidisciplinary Conservation: A Holistic View for Historic Interiors, Rome, 2010 and as co-authors, Building an Effective Decision-making Model for Conservation of the Acton Collection, Villa La Pietra, NYU in Florence, Joint Conference of ICOM-DEMHIST and ICOM-CC, Los  Angeles, 2012. Publications on tapestry conservation as co-authors are Tapestries in the Acton Collection at Villa La Pietra, Edifir, Florence, 2010 and Renaissance Splendor, Catherine de’ Medici’s Valois Tapestries, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2018.

Giulia Sissa


Giulia Sissa, was trained in Italy and France. She graduated with a Laurea in Classics from the University of Pavia, 1977, then with a Doctorat de IIIe cycle in Classical Studies, 1983, from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She has been a researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, and professor of Classics and head of department at the Johns Hopkins University. She holds a joint appointment in Classics and Political Science at the University of California Los Angeles.
Giulia Sissa is the author of numerous books and articles on the history, anthropology and philosophy of the ancient world. Her interest for the past is always connected to major contemporary issues, such as feminism, sexuality, addiction, democratic theory, utopian thinking, and political emotions.
Her publications include Madre Materia. Biologia e sociologia della donna antica, with S. Campese and P. Manuli (Torino, 1983); Le corps virginal. La Virginité féminine en Grèce ancienne (Paris, 1987), translated as Greek Virginity (Boston, 1989), and La verginità in Grecia (Bari, 1992); La vie quotidienne des dieux grecs, with M. Detienne (Paris, 1989), translated as La vita quotidiana degli dèi greci (Bari, 1989), La vida quotidiana de los dios griegos (Madrid, 1990) and The Daily Life of the Greek Gods (Stanford UP, 2000); Le Plaisir et le Mal. Philosophie de la drogue (Paris, 1997 ; translated into Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese), L’âme est un corps de femme, (Paris, 2000; translated into Spanish and Portuguese) and Eros tiranno. Sessualità e sensualità nel mondo antico (Bari, 2004). An English version of this book is forthcoming: Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World, Yale UC, October 2008. A French version, La Sensualité des Anciens, Paris, Odile Jacob, is also forthcoming.
Giulia Sissa is currently working on ancient democracy and imperialism, on politics and the passions, and on the political pursuit of pleasure, from Athens to Utopia.

Peter Sahlins


Peter Sahlins has taught History at UC Berkeley since 1989. He is the author of several books, including most recently 1668: The Year of the Animal in France (New York: Zone Books, 2017). His work has spanned France and Spain from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, focusing on questions of boundaries and identities; immigration, naturalization, and citizenship; the history of forests and forestry in France; and most recently, human-animal relations. He regularly teaches the introductory European History survey course (Europe Since the Renaissance), as well as advanced and graduate courses in a wide variety of subjects. From 2013 to 2018 he directed the Interdisciplinary Studies Field in the Undergraduate Division.