Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Stay at Harvard University
Toward an Epistemology of Mirror Images: Shifting Paradigms of Image Reversal in the Visual Arts of the Early Modern Italy
This research and book project investigates the vast constellation of meanings concerning mirror images (i.e. left-right inverted images) in order to underline the existence of shifting aesthetic and epistemological status attributed to image reversal in the European artistic theory and practice of the early modern period. Through specific case studies based on the analysis of both visual—in particular drawings, prints and paintings—and written sources, this project aims to contribute to a more problematized and historicized discourse on image lateral configuration.
The main hypothesis is that during the early modern period images established a polysemic and fluctuating relationship with their mirror-inverted counterpart, ranging from perfect equivalence to radical alterity. Three research axes, focusing respectively on the theoretical, operative and interpretative conditions of the image reversal, are explored: Image reversal in the theoretical discourse on art; Image reversal, optical knowledge and the Geschichte der Medien; Image reversal, Rezeptionsästhetik and the early modern ekphrastic practices.
Stefano de Bosio earned his PhD in 2012 from the University of Turin, Italy, discussing a thesis analyzing the Western Alpine region during the 16th century as an area of complex artistic, cultural and political negotiation. In 2013 he received the title of Specialista in Beni storico-artistici from the University of Bologna, collaborating with the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (international research project EUPLOOS). In 2013/14 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris.
Besides his current ‘mirror images project’, his main research interests concern cultural transfers and artistic geography in early modern Europe and the artist’s creative process in the 16th century Italy (notions of tradition, imitatio and aemulatio), with particular interest in Raphael and Federico Barocci.