Stefano de Bosio
Fellow in the Context of the DRS Fellowship Program Postdoc International (POINT) at the Dahlem Humanities Center
February 2015 – February 2017
Toward an Epistemology of Mirror Images: Shifting Paradigms of Image Reversal in the Visual Arts of the Early Modern Italy
This 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 (15th-17th c.). Through specific case studies based on the analysis of both visual sources—in particular drawings, prints and paintings—and written sources, this project will thus contribute to a more problematized and historicized discourse on image laterality (Bildlateralität). The focus will be on the Italian peninsula, with special attention given to Florence and Rome.
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, will be 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.
The project situates the mirror image as a crucial topic for an image theory of the early modern period, by considering with new perspectives the constitutive tension between aesthetic and iconographical values involved in image reversal.
Stefano de Bosio earned his PhD in 2011 from the University of Turin, discussing a thesis analyzing the Western Alpine region during the 16th century as an area of complex artistic, cultural and political interaction. He previously studied History of Art in Turin, Italy and at the Université Paris IV–Sorbonne. In 2013 he recieved the title of Specialista in Beni storico-artistici from the University of Bologna. He collaborated with the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (international research project EUPLOOS, 2013). In 2013/14 Stefano de Bosio was a post-doctoral fellow at the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris.
His main research topics concern: cultural transfers and artistic geography in early modern Europe; uses and perception of mirror-images in early modern period (‘reproductive’ prints, drawing counterproof etc.); the artist’s creative process in the 16thcentury Italy (notions of tradition, imitatio and aemulatio), with particular interest in Raphael and Federico Barocci.